Saturday 27 February 2016

Comix Zone (Mega Drive / Genesis review)

Developer: Sega Technical Institute
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1995

Comix Zone is a beat-em-up that was exclusive to Sega's 16-bit console at the time.

You play as a comic book superhero called Sketch Turner and your job is to stop the evil Mortus from taking over the world. The large move set includes Uppercuts, Floor Sweeps and Flying Kicks, but you can also collect up to three items such as Bombs, Grenades and Knives. One of the coolest things is that each level is made up of individual comic strip panels and once you've completed the objective (such as defeating an enemy or pulling a switch) your character jumps into the next panel; it's highly innovative and some enemies are even hand-drawn into the scene to battle you! There's also multiple paths which makes you want to replay the levels to see what you've missed. The combat makes excellent use of the Mega Drive controller and while the game is undoubtedly a button masher there is some variety to the action; this includes hanging onto pipes and swinging your legs to kick enemies, being thrown into a temple ring and forced to fight several foes at once, or rappelling down a pit in a similar fashion to Battletoads (1991, NES). There's some minor puzzle elements too such as dropping a box to blow up exploding barrels, and even feeding your pet rat to a dinosaur head so it closes its mouth! While the gameplay is top-notch the main problem is the health system as you only have a single life and your health depletes every time you hit an object. There are Ice Tea drinks you can collect to top it up but these aren't available often which means tons of trial and error is involved in progressing. It's a huge issue as you're forced into replaying the same sections with no margin for error.
Comix Zone is an awesome beat-em-up but some questionable design decisions hold it back from true greatness. While the combat is spot-on the game is simply too difficult and the lack and lives and continues really hurts its playability and frustration quickly sets in.
Random trivia: In 2002, the game was ported to the Game Boy Advance in Europe and featured a redone soundtrack.

1 comment:

  1. The game mechanics are a lot of fun, but the many grueling gauntlets of difficult enemies, deadly (literally) traps that you have to figure out under pressure and often require pixel-perfect jumps, all of which can have you, at best, reset back to the start of the stage, or worse, to the start of the game, seem to serve the function of lengthening the gameplay of a game that doesn't offer much in the way of replay value.

    They could have made it more lenient and it'd have just been more fun. The ways in which they added challenge feel cheap.


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