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Written by  :  Zovni (10638)
Written on  :  Dec 02, 2003
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.33 Stars3.33 Stars3.33 Stars3.33 Stars3.33 Stars

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16 full bits of comic-book action for your PC

The Good

Comix Zone is your average 16-bit sidescrolling beat 'em up only with a neat twist: while many games count within their influences comic books and their related elements Comix Zone sets out to actually emulate the look and feel of a comic book by casting you as a comic book artist (who following the beat 'em up rules looks like a "Rad" twenty-something bozo and absolutely NOTHING like a comic book artist) that during a weird lightning storm gets thrust into the comic book he was working on and gets replaced by the main villain from the series.

Fortunately for us the villain can't just leave our hero to rot yet since he must destroy him first to become flesh and bones. Unfortunately for our hero that means he must escape the comic-world by getting to the last page but he must also face the many villains he created and even more drawn from scratch by your nemesis, then defeat Gonzo the baddie at the end, save the world and get the girl (no I'm not making that up, there's obviously a babe and a world threatening situation to solve in this game, it wouldn't be a 16-Bit beat 'em up if there weren't!).

Gameplay consists of you moving through the panels and frames of each comic in standard sidescrolling fashion and facing each one of your enemies in hand to hand combat as well as jumping around and solving simple puzzles a-la "place the crates together so you can get to the switch above you" etc. The emphasis is clearly on the beat 'em up aspect of the game however, with your character being able to kick and punch in a variety of ways with special moves and combos that make the game similar to a Final Fight clone (except on 2D only), which is always a nice thing (it may be an old, recycled thing but it's still nice). To aid you in the seminal art of ass-kicking you have a collection of useful power-ups that are stored in your inventory (which unfortunately stores only 3 items), and range from grenades and knifes to unusual "super-hero" power-ups that enable you to literally rip the page (remember you are playing in a comic book) and destroy everything on screen.

As you would expect the graphics in the game mantain the look and feel of a true comic book, with colorful hand-drawn backgrounds and fantastically designed steroid/silicon-injected, spandex-clad characters to fight against (and doing so with smooth animations and moves). Fortunately for us, SEGA PC once again handled the port and the result is a dead-on translation of the original Genesis hit with all it's graphical flair intact and without any sort of compatibility issue on a Win9X machine.

The Bad

While there are some neat "choose your path" areas that open up gameplay a bit and allow you to take a different route to your goal, most of the game is played in a very restricted way. You enter a new panel, kill the bad guy/s in it and move to the next one, repeat ad infinitum. Sure when you get to the edge of a page you usually have to perform one of these choices but the flow of the game is always the same. There aren't even any jumping puzzles (except for having to sort a chasm or two), puzzles are few and far between and they belong to the laziest examples in the genre.

Also being originally a 16-bit cart you wouldn't expect it to have stellar sound, and you would be right. Generic "bops" and consoley sounds make most of the soundtrack. And on a more open note, the cliches of the genre can get very tiresome, with you facing the same enemy dozens of times and reading the "witty" dialogues where the hero describes how he is going to save the world no matter what and nothing can stop him and bla,bla,bla, and the villains spout generic crap about how bad they are and how much they are going to punch you.

The Bottom Line

Generic beat 'em up game. Typical console filth you would say, but add a fresh look and feel that literally takes a super-hero comic book and puts it into your monitor with killer graphics and non-stop action. One of those games that isn't particularly groundbreaking in gameplay or story or anything like that, but manages to sell itself based on an excellently executed style and feel.

For PC gamers it's also a nice way of seeing just what the big fuzz was over there on console-land at the time, though there are better games of the genre ported to the PC like the fantastic Earthworm Jim, Vector Man or the Sonic games.