Back when I was a teenager and heavily into pen and paper role playing games one of the systems we played quite a bit was Champions by the folks at Hero Games. It was one of the first RPGs to try and turn the world of spandex clad super heroes into a proper pen and paper experience and it did it with a unique system that gave you X number of points to purchase powers with in the game. Thanks to a rather well-rounded collection of powers, advantages, and disadvantages that you could choose from the character creation process was rather math intensive, but the end result offered an experience few other super-hero games of the time could rival.
When the City of Heroes MMORPG hit the market I got to be part of the beta team and one of the things I liked about that game was that the character creation system felt somewhat similar to Champions. Obviously it was a much more simplified system than the P&P game, but it felt familiar and I wondered at the time if anyone would try to adapt Champions itself some day.
Hidden away in plain sight at the top of Game Informer’s latest cover (yup, the same one showing off Gearbox’s Aliens: Colonial Marines) is a small reference to “Champions Online” – the latest MMO from the folks at Cryptic Studios. We know what you’re thinking. “Crypic Studios … where do I know that name?” Cryptic isn’t just the name behind the popular (and recently sold) City of Heroes and City of Villains MMOs, but it was also recently attached to Microsoft’s now confirmed-to-be-canceled Marvel Universe Online MMO. The subject matter of Champions Online? You guessed it: superheroes.
Whether Champions Online is stitched together from remnants of the canceled 360-exclusive Marvel MMO or made from a brand-new cape, Game Informer does say the new title will target consoles (plural) and PCs. In which case Cryptic will be competing directly with their previous tight-clad creation on the PC side (awkward) and – with NCsoft looking to announce their first PS3-bound console title later this year – the console space should prove quite competitive as well. Excelsior!
It appears they’re not familiar with the old pen and paper RPG, but the name leaves me thinking that has to be what they’re basing it on. Turns out I’m not the only one who remembers the game as the folks at Firing Squad contacted both companies to find out and got a big “no comment” with the promise that an official announcement would be coming next Monday.
I have to admit that if they can come even somewhat close to translating Champions into an MMORPG that I’d be highly inclined to check it out. I was never completely happy with Neverwinter Nights as a substitute for pen and paper Dungeons & Dragons, but I thought it was a pretty good attempt (I’ve never played the D&D MMORPG). Considering how City of Heroes felt a bit like Champions to begin with I think the folks at Cryptic have got the best chance of putting out something that approximates the classic RPG. If nothing else it’d be interesting to dig out some of my old characters from Champions to see how closely I could recreate them in the game.
Anyone else outside of me remember playing Champions when they were younger? Anyone still playing? They’re still putting out books, but I never got around to buying the Fifth Edition.