Skatepunk Showdown is a video game and graphic novel concept from co-creators Nathan Fry and Riley Smith. As the team's artist, Smith's stylish designs bring the characters to life. Fry works on the project's world-building, writing, and graphic design. The two of them have been building this concept since 2018.
Inspired by arcade sports games from the early 2000s, like Mario Strikers and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, the story follows four newly-turned 20-somethings who are trying to break into a unique new sport-- a frenetic combination of roller-blading and arena soccer-- while trying to balance the aspects of fame, maturity, and pressure that come with navigating an overwhelming world while figuring out who they are.
Society has grown and advanced beyond measure since the start of the century. In 2091, the world has grown past the urban city structures that were once familiar to many 100 years ago. Large landmasses have been converted into limitless skylines, as sweeping glass buildings extend as far as the eye can see. International travel is now done through trans-continental rail systems that can carry passengers across the world in less than a day. Access is truly granted to nearly anything the world has to offer. Some of these changes are due to world governments’ cooperation, but large developments have also been made by the world's leading scientific minds.
Human modification is legal, with fully replaceable appendages and muscles becoming normalized. Some modifications go further than that, though, giving humans abilities that they never had access to, whether directly intended or not. This provides certain characters with the ability to outsmart and overpower their opponents on the field.
The story is set in the fictional city of New Aegis, California- a hub for nightlife and one of the largest tech research sectors in the world. The massive city serves as the headquarters for countless R&D firms that work in sleek, sanitized skyscrapers.
This cleanliness doesn't sit well with some members of the younger generation, who have begun to develop their own identity in the form of a punk revival. Graffiti, skating, and music once popular in the 1990s have returned in full force. These individuals find inspiration in the messages of non-conformity and their new artistic styles that clash with the well-kept, structured new world.
My concept for this world started with the question: "What if the Cyberpunk genre evolved past its current 80s roots with Blade Runner, and instead replaced those inspirations with ones from the late 90s and early 2000s?"
Many people build their futuristic cities with examples from Akira and Blade Runner, and for good reason! But I wanted to create something that was more inspired by what I grew up with, like the cold feeling of the city of Glass from Mirror's Edge, and other unique visual styles that surrounded my childhood.
Artistically, the style was inspired by the Nintendo DS cult-classic The World Ends With You, and its unique street fashion designs, combined with several styles that Smith had already been using prior to this concept's creation.
Another artistic and conceptual inspiration came from our shared love of Mario Strikers, which clearly contributed some major parts of this world's new sport.
When creating the logo, I wanted to get the duality of the world across. This is a flashy, futuristic, and pop-punk-inspired take on the sports genre. In the new logo concept, specifically, the top section represents the skateparks and unrestricted environment that the daytime stages take place in, while the bottom is inspired by the clean, refined nature of the futuristic architecture that dominates the landscape once the sun goes down.
I grew up loving bands like Paramore and The All-American Rejects. The pop-punk-filled soundtracks of Madden and other sports games in the early 2000s became a huge musical inspiration to me as a kid, and I knew that if I ever created a game, it would always have something to do with the music that I was raised on.
In everything that I design for this project, I try to balance the uncontrolled nature of the punk influences with the refined, calculated style that the future I'm envisioning is associated with.
The font choice and color design was heavily inspired by pop-punk album covers from 1999 to 2008- specifically, Paramore's "Riot!" and Hit the Lights' "Skip School, Start Fights." The heavy use of near-100% CMYK shades in "scene" subculture fashion and art is where the desire for bright cyan/blue and pink/magenta hues came from.
This section will only include character art and descriptions of the main four team members. Though we have more that we would love to share, it's no fun if all of the different character designs and secrets are spoiled!
Extremely skilled, but in her own head too much, Carmen is the natural leader of the group... for better or worse. She can be extremely irritable and sarcastic, with most of her issues with others coming from a desire for more control when it comes to her career or her teammates’ decisions. Her motivation comes from wanting to leave a legacy that can’t be touched by anyone, before or after she’s done. This drives her to be very dedicated, but her raw skill makes her somewhat lazy at the beginning of the story, as she’s always been above the rest. Carmen is the bluntest of the group, which can also lead to conflict. She believes that her solutions are always the best ones to problems, especially if she was the one who caused them. Kane brings her raw attacking power and talent to the squad, which leaves several holes for the rest of the team to fill on defense.
As a lightning-quick speedster, Kit is the easy choice for controlling the team's midfield attack. Off the field, she is content to hide away in her room and blast her favorite music, not going out very much. She loves hanging out with her friends, but her social battery can deplete pretty quickly. Winters is not a great handler of fame or pressure, which comes with the territory of being the youngest of the group, while also not knowing exactly who she wants to be yet. One sign of this is that she isn't very organized and clearly lacks the maturity of some of her peers. Kit hates discourse and tries to avoid it at any cost, but still starts her fair share of arguments when butting heads with Carmen. She keeps her words to herself in public because she has a fear of being misquoted or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Kit supports the team from the wing, out-pacing defenders on the sidelines and crossing it in for Carmen.
Steven gets along with just about anyone, though he has a tendency to grow tired of people who refuse to be disciplined in their actions. He has a chill demeanor, but takes his work extremely seriously and believes in establishing consistency and perfecting any technique that he is required to do. On top of this, he’d prefer if everything was kept clean, since that allows him to keep a system in place. He’s sort of the moral compass of the group and gives the best advice, especially when it comes to things like training or discipline. He brings his natural strength and large frame to the table, which helps the team’s defense.
Rhys is bubbly, energetic, and the team’s resident know-it-all. She’s the most optimistic of the group, but has her own hang-ups, like her natural impatience. Reinhart earned a PhD in physics at age 19, following in her scientist father’s footsteps. As a skilled researcher and aspiring inventor, she uses her skills to modify the skates that the team uses. By giving them certain abilities that other teams haven’t figured out, it closes the gap between them and some of the more technically skilled players. For example, her boots and gloves emit “lightning.” While they’re not designed for this, (as they were created as industrial safety equipment), she figured out how to make them require more energy than is natural and convert the excess energy into electricity that freezes the ball in midair or stuns other players. Her genius makes her invaluable to the team, both as a tactician and mechanic.