Genre: Action Developer: Sega Technical Institute Publisher: Sega Enterprises Players: 1 Released: 1995
Comix Zone was released in mid-to-late 1995 for the Sega Genesis. CZ was developed and published by Sega. True to form, Sega has made the story about as off-the-wall is it gets. Sketch Turner, the creator of the hit comic book Comix Zone, is magically transformed into the pages of his own comic by the book’s super villain Mortus. Mortus dreams of taking over the world, but the only way he can take over is if Sketch is killed within the pages of the comic. Throughout the game, Mortus’ hand pops into the frame and he draws enemies to take out Sketch.
The gameplay is a perfect blend of Streets of Rage and Street Fighter II that fits the comic book setting perfectly. You go from panel-to-panel, defeating enemies as you go along, much like going from area-to-area in Streets of Rage. Sketch features a slew of special moves that are activated via d-pad movement along with button presses, much like the Street Fighter games. The panel-to-panel gameplay gives the game a feeling all its own, you really feel as if you are in a comic book fighting for your life. The gameplay is about as rock-solid as one could expect. The gameplay is quick, so be on your toes if you want to vanquish the evil Mortus and his band of minions out to destroy Sketch.
The control in Comix Zone is among the finest ever on the Genesis. Every attack in the game, from the lowliest punch to the fanciest combo, can be pulled off without a hitch thanks to the game’s responsive control. The game makes great use of both the three-button and six-button Genesis pads. If you have the three-button pad, the game’s controls will be just as smooth and intuitive as they are with the six-button pad. The six-button pad makes using special items, such as bombs and knives, a bit easier, but you’ll be able to use them just as easily with the three-button pad, it just might take a bit of practice.
The game’s graphics are simply mind blowing. The game’s many characters are all finely animated; each features tons of move animation, as well as walking animation that set each character in the game apart from the rest. The game’s backgrounds receive just as much detail. You’ll notice the backgrounds changing as you fight through the panel. For example, the first panel you fight in features a bustling skyline in the middle of a sunny day, replete with the Statue of Liberty poking through, throughout your battles in this panel, the aforementioned sunny day will turn into a rainy one, and then fall prey to a violent thunderstorm. This kind of background depth occurs throughout the game and must be seen to be believed. The character design in the game is part-realism, part-fantasy, and it helps to give the game even more personality. Sketch, for example, is dressed like a typical 20-something character, hooded sweatshirt and black shorts completing his ensemble, this gives the game some reality-based roots that remain constant throughout the game. The enemy characters, on the other hand, have been ripped from the pages of a sci-fi comic. Human/reptile hybrids populate the game, as do ogres and other evil demons. This mix of reality and fantasy gives the game a certain charm that has yet to be replicated.
The game’s sound is just as good as the game’s gameplay and graphics. The game’s music is hard-hitting and gets your blood pumping, it puts you in the mood to play the game and it fits the gameplay perfectly. The game’s sound effects are where the sound really shines. Each and every sound effect in the game is unique, from the sound of a punch connecting, to the sound of a loud explosion. Each effect does a great job of placing emphasis where in needs to be placed. There are numerous small sound effects that really help to give the game its charm. For example, over a wavering black and white Sega logo, an insecure voice says, “testing, one, two,” then announces the Sega name like an Elvis impersonator, this kind of simple charm goes a long way in a game like this, and it enhances the tongue-in-cheek atmosphere of the game.
The replay value of Comix Zone is through the roof. The game’s originality has yet to be matched, and the gameplay is as unique as you’re ever likely to find. The game remains a blast to play. Even after over six years of playing this game, I’m nowhere near done with it. It’s a very challenging game and will give even the most seasoned gamer a run for their money.
Overall, Comix Zone is one of the most amazing games on the Genesis. Every aspect of the game: the gameplay, the control, the graphics, and the sound, smack of first-rate effort. You can tell a lot of effort went into the game, and it paid off in spades. The game has a certain charm to it that no game since has been able to match.
Comix Zone is one of the few games that loses absolutely nothing in the transition to the Nomad. The graphics remain as crisp and clear on the Nomad as they are on the Genesis, the blurring is a non-factor in the game. The gameplay, sound, and control are as amazing on the Nomad as they are on the Genesis. If you have a Nomad, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of this game.
SCORE: 8 out of 10