There are plenty of gamers out there who may not even realise tha there's a wealth of comics relating to their favourite. Case in point, the extremely effective SSX tie-in.
These days it’s not enough to announce the return of a video game franchise and make sure that it reaches store shelves on time.
No, instead, you must re-invigorate your ‘brand’ by ensuring that it receives a trans-media rollout, thus we have the online graphic novel of SSX.
For many gamers, even the name SSX may not evoke strong memories (it has been five years since its previous installment Blur, which was a Wii exclusive), so the release of a tie-in comic from the writers of the game is a great move.
Even better, unlike DC Comics’ Uncharted series which preceded last year’s Uncharted: Drake’s Deception or the latest four-part arc from Dark Horse that’s preceding Mass Effect 3, the SSX comic is completely free (you can download it here, in case you’re wondering).
While no-one really comes to a snowboarding video game for its storyline, the actual story elements of last Friday’s release are told in motion comic panels, so the pre-release comics itself fits perfectly within the chosen art style and stylistic approaches EA have made. Another pleasant surprise is that the artist behind the comic is Agustin Padilla (on top form here), best known for his work in the G.I. Joe series.
The idea behind the comic is to introduce players into of the game’s main protagonists from the final game, in addition to three ‘Deadly Descents’, the fearsome mountain range challenges which make up the main event scenario of the title.
As with everything in the SSX universe, the art style is energetic, over the top and absolutely infectious, with life bursting through each panel and nothing – save for a few cheesy lines – interrupting momentum. While the comic itself reads as a single issue rather than a full story arc, it serves its purpose of introducing the main characters, the SSX team and the tone of the series in just a few short pages, while whetting the appetite for the full release (which we were very fond of).
In recent years video game comics have really taken on a life of their own, with series such as Gears of War continuing on a monthly basis from humble beginnings. Like all the pre-release tie-ins, SSX gives gamers more than just a simple taste of the action that awaits them when they hit the slopes, it gives the rest of us a craving for the series to continue from here.
After all, though many of us are entertaining regularly by the likes of Scott Snyder’s take on Batman or the Miles Morales figure of Ultimate Spider-Man, there comes a time where you maybe wish we had less superheroes and more outlandish, adrenalin-fuelled sports comics for a little variety. That’s something the SSX comic delivers in spades and we’d love to see more.