ShufflingDead’s final Shameful Human for 2010 is whoever it was, lurking in the darkest corner of EA’s corporate office, that greenlit SSX Deadly Descents. If you wisely chose to miss the abominable SpikeTV VGAs where this game was premiered, allow me a moment to explain what this new title is about.
If you have the barest knowledge of the SSX franchise, then you can probably guess that this is a snowboarding game. If you know anything more about the SSX franchise than that it is about snowboarding, I’m afraid you will be unable to assume anything else.
If the game’s teaser trailer is any indication, Deadly Descents is a tonal reboot of the franchise which moves it away from the “totally extreme” style of previous entries and toward the “gritty extreme” of Gears of War. Alternate titles suggested by angered fans include “SSX: Dudebro Descents” and “Tom Clancy’s SSX: Deadly Descents.” The official website for the game explains “SSX: Deadly Descents will pit riders versus both mountain and man.”
I’ve played a couple SSX games in my life, and although I would not describe myself as a huge fan, I did enjoy them. What I found most memorable about those games was that they were colourful, bright, humorous, and slightly-cartoonish takes on snowboarding. In other words, they were nothing like SSX Deadly Descents.
I love to rag on the manly-man dudebro style of games that have dominated this generation, but that is not my problem with this new SSX. The real issue is the entirely inappropriate branding of this game as SSX at all. A game so far removed from the previous titles which bore that name simply isn’t one of those games.
From a business perspective, I understand EA’s reasoning: stick SSX on there and let consumers know this is a snowboarding game while (maybe) getting the fan base on board as well. From an artistic perspective, there is simply no sense in the decision because there is no longer a common thread between the games aside from the most basic premise (snowboarding). Casting that wide of a definition of what makes SSX SSX means you might as well start calling all snowboarding games by that name.
Compare this with something like Spider-Man. That franchise has been ported to numerous mediums and been re-booted in most of them. Never the less, many characters remain in each iteration and fill similar roles. The basic plot (teenage boy with super-human spider-like capabilities deals with girls, the death of his uncle, and super-villains) persists. “Spider-Man” still means something beyond “superhero.”
It’s time game companies like EA began respecting their own intellectual property enough to call different games different things.