Among the throngs of New York Comic Con attendees swarming Microsoft's booth, I managed to snag a few moments with Starfire Studios' first title, an ambitious XBLA space shooter with the utterly forgettable title "Fusion: Genesis." As most of the world had just heard of Starfire via an utterly forgettable press release announcing its first game, I asked art director Philip Dunne a bit more about his small company's history.

"Starfire is a brand new company, we're all ex-Rare guys," Dunne explained, piquing my interest. About two years ago, he and three others left Rare to form their own studio and work on an MMO. "This is our first game. As soon as we left Rare we knew we wanted to make some sort of MMO, and we're trying to kind of squeeze it all in here onto this," he added, referring to Fusion: Genesis.

What his team has isn't quite an MMO, but it does feature some interesting concepts from that world. For instance, after "roughly 10 to 15 hours" of single-player content, Fusion opens up into a co-op focused 8-player raid, which Dunne repeatedly referred to as "endgame content." In so many words, that content can be played offline with NPCs, though it'll be significantly more difficult than with other high-level human players.

The project has been a labor of love for a team of guys who worked on such storied titles as Nintendo 64's console FPS gems GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark, not to mention hilarious cult classics like Killer Instinct. During my demo of Fusion: Genesis, I even spotted a clever nod to veteran game developer and weak weapon namesake Ken Lobb (or "Klobb"), as seen above.

About that reference, Dunne said "Ken goes way back with us, so he'd probably be quite happy," and, with Lobb at Microsoft (as creative director of Microsoft Studios), he's been "our backer for this [project], really." Thankfully, unlike its N64 counterpart, Fusion's Klobb is actually useful, and even comes in several strength levels.

Lobb will have a chance to try it for himself, as will the rest of us, rather soon, as Fusion's penciled in for a winter 2011 launch.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.