Saturday, November 8, 2008

Comix Zone

Comix Zone is an interesting game that I think sold on the pure graphic style and concept. Came out in 1995 on the Sega Genesis, since then it came out on the Gameboy Advance and more recently the Virtual Console on the Wii. Back then it was an amazing concept nothing like it ever seen before. Even today its been copied a few times but not in the same extent of comix zone. Still nothing really amazing gameplay wise pretty stock from the 90's but there just something about it that screams unique. Set inside a comic book you swing from panel panel fighting enemies drawn by the villain who is outside the comic book.

You play a freelance cartoonist/rock musician, ironically named Sketch Turner. While working on his new comic book named Comix Zone, a thunder storm comes by and somehow while not physically touching the comic, brings to life the main villain of his own comic! Mortus the main villain sucks you into the comic, because for some odd reason he can't defeat you in the real world. You meet Allissa Cyan who doesn't do anything really important apart from pointing the obvious, like yelling out "Watch out!" or "Go over there!". Mortus the lame villain he is gives you a second chance when you die in the first level, he goes and says "Oh, come on -- that was just too easy!". I don't think that's good for your supervillain rep there Mortus, giving a second chance to the hero? So you need to get at the end of the comic so you can be set free. See what happens when you mix some bad video game story lines with some bad comic storyline, you get no story line. One thing I do love about the story is that there aren't any real cut scenes the speech bubbles appear and you read the cheesy lines to find out whats going on.
The gameplay isn't amazing either, its a beat-em-up in essence. You run around beating up everything on screen while pulling switches and pushing boxes to continue. You do find your pet rat Roadkill who also got sucked into the comic, he helps you get into new areas and finding secret items and areas. The items you get are knifes, bombs, powerfists and health bottles all things you can use for battle. While fighting enemies you get the standard punch and combo to hard punch so you can connect to your final hard hit. Nothing amazing there either, seems like I'm making this look like a bad game but that's not where the game shines!

The game shines in the concept and visuals. You aren't in the comic book world you are in the comic itself. The whole game is full of color like in comic book. So you swing from panel to panel to get to the next page, which makes for a really cool experience. In total there are 3 world with 2 levels each, which makes 6 pages in all. Most of the enemies are drawn in real times, so you see the hand and pencil drawing the enemies. Even while fighting when you hit you see the classic "POW!!"
Like I mentioned earlier, the whole story is flowing with the game with the use of speech bubbles. There also those yellow text box at the corner of the panel, which I don't even know if there a name for those or not? Anyone care to inform me? Anyways, all the lines seem to be taken from some old cliché comic book dialog. You never say anything profound, mostly grunts and cheesy lines. Still it all blends flawlessly with the game, even the enemies have their say in the game. There is one little minor feature I like a lot, when you pause the game Sketch says in his speech bubble the time you have been playing. There's also at the last page in the corner you can clearly see that the comic is not quite finished, another little feature I love.
That's all the comic book like features in the game, there might be some more references in there but my knowing didn't spot them. They not only exploit the fact that you are inside a comic book but also the fact the comic is an object, a paper object in fact. You can use your rat to sniff ou secret areas and items, well the way he does that is by ripping a piece of the page and that reveals the area. Mortus also use this fact to defeat you, like burning the page. Even at some places if you make a hard flying hit the enemies will go flying trough the panel, in consequence ripping them. Take a close look at the pictures below the first you see the ripped panel and the second you Sketch using his ultimate move making the whole page rip to destroy enemies.There bummer with the game is that its short and hard. It seems like the style in the 90's, if the game is short make it hard so it'll last longer. They reason that its hard is that there are barely any health jars to pick up and the enemies sometimes don't have any flinch so they hit you trough your barrage of attacks. You only have one life I guess to keep up with the story and realism of the game world. Not unbearably hard but still very frustrating at times.

The game is a true gem that is surprisingly unknown. Both of the comic elements mix flawlessly and makes for a really great experience. Video game fans and comic books fans alike can't afford to miss out on this. I got this picture I find funny, I was trying to get a shot at his Superhero transformation, but I got something extra with this ridiculous caption.

1 comment:

Pout said...

I had never heard of this game. That is such a cool concept! Bet you Mike would love this.