Boasting stimulating protagonists with special powers or enviable abilities who captivated audiences with their recurring adventures aimed at saving society, superheroes made for ideal video game characters.
One lesser-known but impactful and critically acclaimed video game series was Viewtiful Joe, a classic two-dimensional, left-right scrolling video game released on GameCube in 2003 by Capcom Five.
Viewtiful Joe is broken up into seven stages that begin and end with cinematics. It’s an appropriate approach as the game follows main character Joe and his girlfriend Silvia and begins when Silvia is kidnapped and taken to Movieland. Joe fights bosses in every stage, ultimately rescuing Silvia.
The game was a celebrated success, and though it didn’t have stunning commercial numbers, its popularity was enough to inspire a second game, an anime TV series, and placement on several “best game” lists.
Jack Hammer 2
While video games may seem like an obvious place for superheroes to appear, they also have been the focus of gambling services looking to boost intrigue and revenue. After all, doesn’t it make sense to engage gamblers in a captivating story to get them to stick around and spend their money?
Casumo, an online gaming service, thought so. They feature Jack Hammer 2, a mash-up of slot machine and comic, which follows Jack Hammer, a “detective every criminal is afraid of” according to Casumo’s own description. The crisp style blends classic comic strip pointillism with more modern comic strip styles, all without feeling out of place even while the slots are spinning. Jack Hammer 2 doesn’t feel out of place surrounded by dozens of other slot machines, but it doesn’t sacrifice the overall aesthetic of a classic comic strip. At the same time, it doesn’t feel ‘dated’–instead taking some of the best design elements of those old strips and rejuvenating them with a modern look (similar to Viewtiful Joe, in that regard). Really, it’s a fantastically effective blending of two separate but complementary worlds, and Casumo has been reaping the financial benefit while generating some impressive reviews (read the casumo review).
Modern Comic Trends
With the rise of the Internet and the decline of newspapers, the comic industry has seen the number of self-publishers rise dramatically. This has led to intense diversification of the industry, though major powers DC and Marvel still have a stranglehold.
This diversification has manifested itself in the expansion of each publisher’s universe, which really began as X-Men grew into a huge series with a wide array of characters and storylines.
Though Hollywood has absolutely turned the country’s classic comics into a multi-billion dollar industry, that doesn’t mean comics are completely gone from print. However, newspaper journalism is in significant decline. In fact, from 2004-2016, readership of the Sunday paper has fallen 4.2% according to the Pew Research Center despite America’s population growing by around 10% over that same period. Likely in an attempt to cut costs with readership declining, newspapers have also reduced their page widths in recent decades, straining comic writers and illustrators to fit the same quality into a smaller space. This is a huge deal for such a visual form of expression!
Additionally, the newspaper industry has become increasingly more local, and with the Internet becoming a source of free content, newspapers have had to match with shorter, more relevant free daily papers. Due to the local nature of these papers, they often feature local comics and works from local cartoonists, another example of the diversification of publishers.
If there’s anything that can be said about the comic industry after 150 years, though, it’s that both the creativity of the developers and the passion of the audience will persist no matter what form of expression or information transfer is popular at the time. Click around on this site to learn more about how we got to where we are now!