Comix Zone – A Retrospective
For those unexperienced in the unbridled joy of Comix Zone it was a Sega Mega Drive (Genesis) release back in 1995. The game saw you play as Sketch Turner, with a little help here and there from your pet rat Roadkill. Films and TV have taught me basically not to do anything in a thunderstorm, not only because there’s a chance of me taking a billion volts to my spine but also because if lighting strikes something it’ll come to life, Frankenstein’s Monster (for the pedantic readers), Johnny Five from Short Circuit and in Comix Zone it brings to life Mortus, the douchiest douche that has ever been drawn, maybe with the exception of Hawkman.
Mortus wants you dead, for some reason, but he can’t kill you in real life so he zaps you into the comic to erase you there (HA!). Comix Zone as a game is a platform puzzler at heart, it allows you to jump around from frame to frame, completing whatever objective is required of you, be it kill these people or pull this lever. The one thing that always held this game back was the difficulty. No passwords, only a few lives and enemies that take 20 hits and you only needing 3 all pull together to make this game pummel you like an apple at a cider press. The game was great fun, the fights and puzzles were contained to a panel in a comic book and the act of jumping to the frame below looked great. Sometimes if you were awesome enough you could drop kick an enemy through the paper edge into the next page. Roadkill, the rat, was there to sniff out items, pulling down a team of paper and producing a weapon or power up that was going to be useful in slightly short lived for the next area to hit up.
Sketch when completing a level would momentarily transform into a caped crusader, but realistically that isn’t the focus of the game. Sketch was a super hero in his own right, he didn’t have a cape or the ability to fly, but he could beat the snot out of anyone and really pulled off the pony tail and Lennon Specs combo.
It’s worth noting that if you were lucky this game came with a free CD with studio recordings of the soundtrack by an actual band, or session band at least. Either way the lyrics and high quality were awesome and even if you’ve never played the game I cannot recommend enough tracking down (on Youtube) the full OST for some great punk shenanigans.
It’s also worth noting at this point that the box art for Comix Zone is awesome, and as per usual the Japanese box art is somehow even more awesome.
It’s odd that I am recommending whole heartedly that everyone plays a game that I’ve never managed to complete before, but surely that’s the sign of a great game, despite it pushing me in the gutter, kicking mud in my face I keep coming back for more. The awesome detailed pixel art, the midi punk rock soundtrack, the great one liners, the comic panel level design, all of this comes together and smushes into a great game. Superhero games, and unlicensed ones at that, are a hard sell to publishers, the comic book angle even more so.
There are a lot of games, especially from Sega, that people would like HD remakes of, Comix Zone isn’t one for me, the game is perfect as it was. It came out very late in the consoles life which lead to poor sales, the game pushed the Mega Drive (Genesis) and it got every last drop of greatness out of the machine. The graphics were top quality pixel art and any HD remake that comes out would just take away something that made the game so special. If you haven’t played this game then you’ve missed out on some classic retro gaming. Go find your Mega Drive and blow off the dust, find a cartridge on eBay and blow the dust off that, alternatively just emulate it, I don’t care, you just need to play this game.
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