The header image for this post is the start screen from the game Comix Zone.
Do you have a minute to talk about our comic hero and saviour Sketch Turner? … No? Well tough, it’s happening.
Comix Zone was a Mega Drive/Genesis game developed by Sega Technical Institute and published by Sega in 1995. It was later ported to Gameboy Advanced in 2002, Playstation 2 and PSP in 2007, Nintendo Wii in 2009, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 in 2010, iOS and Android in 2017.
Ah, Comix Zone
Even just looking at the game its kinda hard to believe that it’s a Mega Drive title; there’s lots of polish to this game.
With it being a game from back in the day when stories didn’t have to make sense but was free to be as crazy as they liked, also it was released at the end of the Mega Drive’s development cycle so it kinda has an all-in vibe to it. You know, a sort of “whats the worst that could happen” kinda feeling.
So our unknowing hero, Sketch Turner is a starving artist working late one night on a comic strip panel with his trusted pet rat Roadkill on his shoulder.
more on Roadkil later
A lightning bolt hits the building Sketch lives in, and out of nowhere a hand shoots out of the comic he is working on and starts to throttle him.
The antagonist of this game is called Mortus, the leader of the alien renegades that are invading earth in the story of Sketch’s latest comic. Wishing to take over the real world but knowing he has no power in the real world, Mortus throws Sketch and his pet rat into the comic and proceeds to draw all of Sketches enemies.
The pencil is mightier than… well, its just mighty in this case.
Believing that Sketch is the chosen one, General Alissa Cyan sends our reluctant hero on a mission to save post apocalyptic Earth from the alien renegade invasion.
Only in the 90’s, People
How can you tell this is a game from the 90’s? Well, if the story was fleshed out a little more it could be a movie from the 90’s. Bare with me, I’ll give you the 90’s movie checklist:
Round sunglasses that never fall off - check
Three quarter length cargo pants and hoodie - check
He happens to know martial arts despite being an artist - check
He has a blond ponytail - check
And last but not least: He is the only hope for humanity - A big check
Yo Sketch! What console you on?
Its a shame that more games of this kind weren’t made for the Mega Drive back in the day, I think a series of games like Comix Zone would have worked nicely on the console. Also considering that Comix Zone is over 20 years old now
man I fell old
it was, until I played Comic Jumper and another title I cant remember the name of, the only game for a long time that transitioned playable areas via panels on a comic strip.
Huh Seeegaaa! Thanks Sketch
Back in the day I had a real blast playing this game. Being a nipper at the time and naturally all games where completed by Jay,
my my how the tables turned later on
not discouraged by the trap laden last level. Perseverance, a lot of swearing, and observation of a certain brother playing this title had me beating it eventually.
Not to mention the fact that if you ducked a lot of times Sketch would fart.
Music to sooth the savage…
hell with it, PUNCH IT IN THE FACE!!
Now I don’t know if he still has it but when Jay purchased this particular title back in 1996
man that was a long time ago
he got a bonus CD (yes CD, no downloads then) of the soundtrack. Not just the tracks from the game on a disc but actual worded rock tracks from the game.
Jay: I do, indeed, still have the CD and it’s a glorious mix of early 90’s grunge
One track on the CD that I loved more then any other was called “Woe is a world” and it happened to be the boss music that you got at the end of a stage.
I loved this track however, it was a style of singing that made it hard to discern to words. So luckily for you I am going to give you my interpretation of the words. _Clears throat" >}}
Woe is a world
Punch you in the teeth
Slab of beef!
Let me just point out these are not the words at all but a younger me wanted to sing along and this is what I came up with.
Jay: here’s an embedded YouTube video of the song (courtesy of mechatails), so you can hear the lyrics (or not)
Oh No You Didn’t!
You know when playing games when you either scream in rage
the entire of the Souls series and Bloodborne do it for me
or hits you in the feels
the prologue for Last Of Us or the moment with Vivi in FF9 (you know the one)
well this was the first game that had me having a mixture of these reactions.
You see in this game you have a pet rat called Roadkill (not Ben)
Jay: obscure music reference. Nice
and after being dragged into the comic at the same time as Sketch, he gained the power to electrocute at will,. As well as sniff out secrets and pull hard to reach switches.
Your faithful rat companion can also use his powers to electrocute enemies on screen, certain enemies are afraid/powerless against Roadkill until…
No no no no NO NO NOOO!
There is every chance that Roadkill will get hit by enemies on screen, one or two hits is fine but when he gets hit after that and he struggles to stay on the page, and falls off the page trying but failing to grip onto the page.
Hit in the feels and pure rage all in one go.
What follows after that is a flurry of offensive moves only comparable to a Bruce Lee movie in fast forward.
NO ONE TOUCHES THE RAT!
Okay. I’m all calmed down now, back to the plot.
Comix Zone is one of those games were if you know what you’re doing, you can breeze through in less then 40 mins. But to two kids loving the soundtrack, random farting, and having a single button to bash everything in sight, it was challenging at times.
I’m not talking Mega Man level hard, but some thought was needed for certain obstacles and traps in the stages.
What About The Rat?
Roadkill (I love ya buddy) was instrumental in some stages for progression unless you were willing to sacrifice health to traps and death drops.
But not only this, at certain points in stages there was a split in the path you could take. Different paths usually meant different strategies were needed to progress.
So one time you would be trying to take down an enemy that was stopping you from jumping across a death ledge by shooting things at you, or you would be fighting the clock trying to get to the bottom of a well while the top of the page was set on fire.
Mortus you complete a total Git!!
So How Does It End?
Well if you don’t want it spoiled skip this section, everyone else good with spoilers? Good I’ll go on.
Mortus has a nuke that’s set to go off and cause all sorts of destruction, Alissa shows up
that’s commander Alissa!
My bad, Commander Alissa shows up to defuse the nuke when Mortus jumps back into the comic to trap the Commander in an air tight tank. The tank slowy starts filling with a random liquid, and your job is to fight and defeat Moruts and free the Commander from the tank before it fills and before the nuke goes off.
So with an arsenal of tips, tricks and possibly a throw-able bomb or two, it was up to me as a nipper to defeat that wide brimmed hatted mother of all Gits in order to save the world and the girl.
When I eventually managed to do it, it was tinged with disaster. I was too late to save the girl and she drowned.
However perseverance, a bottle of pop and a bag of blackjacks later… ah SUCCESS BABY!
Leaving me encountering something I had never seen before: a game with two endings.
You see when I got the bad ending, it didn’t hit me with a “You died, get good message”, it implied that Sketch might unleash this evil again in hopes of a happier ending. That’s it.
All the motivation I needed
along with the sweets
to go back and kick seven kinds of living crap out of Mortus.
Whats the good ending you ask? I’m going to leave it open, with any luck you might be tempted to try this title yourself, or look it up on YouTube.
Either way I’m not going to judge.
Comix Zone, in my opinion, is a thinking mans button basher from the 90’s.
Traversing through 6 different stages over three episodes. Punching, kicking shocking and POWERFLASH-ing your way through. Comix Zone is definitely an experience and should be played by more people these days more then ever, I think. A shining example of the best the Mega rive had to offer.
As always thanks for reading this little trip down memory lane with me. Have you beaten this game? Did you get the bad ending like me first time? Was me teasing the good ending enough to get you playing it? And did you find the secret item room? Let me know in the comments.