Game: "Comix Zone"
System: Sega Genesis
Published by: Acclaim
Reviewer: Dr. Boogie
Review: It was a bit late coming to the party, but when it comes to Genesis games, you canít go wrong with Comix Zone.
Imagine for a moment that you are Sketch Turner, a struggling comic book artist. Things are looking kind of ďmehĒ for you until a freak lightning strike releases Mortus, a villain from one of your books. Lucky for you, he canít kill you because heís just a drawing, but what he can do is hurl you into said comic book and draw up an army of thugs to take you down.
Itís not all bad news, though: now that youíre in the ďComix ZoneĒ, youíre much tougher than in real life. Plus, you know all manner of crazy martial arts moves, which will come in handy as you face off against, among others, robots that shoot exploding springs, women with excessively long hair, and old people with long fingernails.
Hearing that, youíd think this game would be all about fighting. Not so. Each level of the game is divided up into panels, not unlike those found on the pages of a real comic book. To move from one panel to the next, youíll need to complete some goal in the current panel. Early on, itís usually just a matter of defeating all the enemies in a given panel, but soon, the goals will become more complex, requiring you to solve simple, but dangerous, puzzles in order to move ahead. Often, such puzzles will involve you removing obstacles like explosives, or sometimes just rocks, without injuring yourself too severely. Tricky enough by itself, but while you can break through walls with your bare hands, each hit takes a small portion of your health. And health is in short supply.
What this means is that more often than not, the many different set pieces in the game will need to be overcome in a specific way. Early on, there will be some room for error, but itís do or die late in the game. Whatís more, certain situations will require you to hang onto certain items found several panels earlier. Why spend a third of your health ramming through that stack of boulders when the bundle of dynamite you founding the previous panel will do the trick? This is where you have to think about your sidekick: Roadkill.
Roadkill is a sewer rat that Sketch keeps as a pet. In the Comix Zone, he has the ability to electrocute anyone he touches, but more importantly, you have to use him in order to solve a number of puzzles, either directly or by scratching up special items hidden in the background. You can deploy him to give you a hand in combat, but if you lose him, youíll likely find yourself in a world of hurt once you make it to the next non-combat panel.
The difficulty is where the game lost a lot of points with players, but in truth, Comix Zone isnít that much harder than any other game from that era. Many of those games required players to think of a specific course of action in order to beat a given level. Comix Zone just came off as being more difficult because it was presented as more of a brainless beat-Ďem-up game rather than a sort of hybrid puzzle-solving/fighting game.
Sure, Comix Zone requires some pretty specific action from the players, but itís part of what keeps the game interesting. Once youíve got it in mind how to beat the game, it would just be a boring slog if there were no real consequences for slipping up. Plus, like most action games from the 16-bit era, the game can be beaten in around an hour. Sure, you might lose some time getting a game over, but not so much that you would want to hurl a controller across the room. Most of the time.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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