Every year, Comic Con loses a bit of its comic book roots and cedes floor space to purveyors of other nerdy impulses. Video games, in particular, have taken firm footing on the show floor in San Diego, regardless of whether there's a connection to the comic world.
Consider, for example, how Will Wright gave the first-day keynote at Comic Con 2008. The link between comics and Wright's highly-anticipated game, Spore, was its ability to create comic books based on content from the game. As Joystiq noted, Wright only dedicated a few minutes to this feature before moving on to an elaborate game demonstration. It was kind of like briefly discussing business at lunch to justify expensing the bill.
Hardcore comic buffs are undoubtedly lamenting the changes to Comic Con, but the shift to a celebration of all things geek isn't necessarily a bad thing. I'll risk the stereotype and say there must be a lot of comic book fans who would love trying upcoming video games before the rest of the world
This year, more than 20 video game publishers are listed as exhibitors. For gamers everywhere, here's what to look for:
Left 4 Dead 2
There's no connection between this zombie-slaying shooter and comics, but Electronic Arts is nonetheless using Comic Con to introduce Left 4 Dead 2 to the public. The game, which forces players to cooperate in order to survive a zombie apocalypse, will be playable off-site, at the Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Hotel, allowing anyone who's not totally into the comic book thing to get a quick gaming fix.
Iron Man 2
Let's pray for a miracle and hope Sega's Iron Man 2 doesn't join the ranks of terrible movie-based games. We know little about the sequel to last year's warmly-met tie-in, but Sega is promising "an all-new original story and a great interactive experience." At least its comic book roots are strong.
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom Ultimate All-Stars
What, never heard of it? That's what a nerd convention is all about -- bringing together players who are super-competitive in a video game that's totally off the radar. Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is a fighting game, like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, that made it big in Japan and is scheduled for a U.S. release in the winter. At Comic Con, players will be able to do battle in this game and others in Capcom's 400-square foot boxing ring arena.
To hype the metal-inspired action adventure game in which Jack Black voices the lead, Electronic Arts is hosting a "Metal Meltdown" concert for fans chosen by lottery. The headliner is Gwar, whom you either recall as a favorite act of Beavis & Butthead or the gaudiest metal band ever.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2
We've got to hand it to Activision for staying true to comic book fans with its presence at the convention. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 is a beat-'em-up starring characters created by the legendary Stan Lee, and it's said that he'll even have a cameo in the game. At the convention, Activision will let fans try the game ahead of its fall release date, and Lee will be on hand for an hour to sign autographs. If that doesn't keep both gamers and comic buffs happy, nothing will.