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|Developer(s)||Sega Technical Institute|
|Genre(s)||Beat 'em up|
|Rating(s)||ESRB: Kids to Adults (K-A)|
|Media||3 1/2 Floppy disk, CD-ROM, 16-Megabit Cartridge|
|Input||Joypad, Computer keyboard (on computer)|
|System||Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Windows, Game Boy Advance, Virtual Console|
Comix Zone (コミックスゾーン|Komikkusu Zōn) is a 1995 arcade-style action game. The game's most remarkable feature is that it is set within the "panels" of a comic book. Each level consists of two "pages" and secrets are discovered by shredding the "paper" and revealing items. The dialogue is rendered within talk bubbles with the typical comic font. Sprites and backgrounds possess the bright colors and dynamic drawing style favored by superhero comics.
Comix Zone was widely criticized for being released too late and for being too hard and short, but it was positively received, and praised for its great game-play, graphics, and soundtrack. It became a great success due to its game-play, and is released on many collections and consoles since. It is also one of the rarer Japanese Mega Drive games.
The music was composed by Howard Drossin, a known video game and film composer. Graphics were done mainly by comic artists.
The game was originally from a concept video animated by Peter Morawiec titled "Joe Pencil Trapped In The Comix Zone". The video was made in 1992, displaying the animation of how the gameplay and the comic book elements would blend in.
Sketch Turner (スケッチ・ターナー), a "starving artist" and freelance rock musician, is working on his newest comic book, named the "Comix Zone." Comix Zone is the story of the New World Empire's attempt to defend Earth from an invasion of alien renegades, with inspiration coming from Sketch's (oddly vivid) dreams and nightmares.
One night, while Sketch is working on Comix Zone during a storm, a massive lightning bolt strikes outside his apartment, somehow affecting the comic book too. In this instant, the main villain of Comix Zone - a powerful mutant named Mortus - manages to escape the comic book's pages, and hurl the stunned Sketch into the world of Comix Zone. Mortus intends to free himself by destroying Sketch in the comic book, as he is unable to do so in reality.
Inside the comic book, Sketch meets General Alissa Cyan, who believes he is a superhero ("the chosen one") who has come to save their post-apocalyptic world from the evil of Mortus and the alien invaders. Ignoring Sketch's protests, Alissa sends him on his mission, keeping in touch with instructions and hints via radio.
Now that Mortus has a physical presence outside of Comix Zone, he is free to change the world as he wishes, simply by drawing in enemies for Sketch to face - or in one instance burn up part of a page.
In the final (and partly unfinished) panel, Sketch finds a nuclear missile ready to launch, and Alissa is working on defusing it. Enraged, Mortus zaps himself back into the Comix Zone and shuts Alissa inside the nuke, which starts to fill with liquid. Sketch must now defeat Mortus for good and try and prevent Alissa from drowning.
There are three episodes in the game, each consisting of two pages in a distinct area (levels):
- Episode 1: "Night of the Mutants" (New York City)
- Deceased streets/Sewers
- Mutant base
- Episode 2: "Welcome to the Temple" (Himalayas)
- Mountain path/Tibetan city
- Kung-Fung's Temple
- Episode 3: "Curse of the Dead Ships" (Zealand Atolls)
- Dried atolls/Caves
- "Abandoned" ship graveyard
- Howard Drossin: Sketch Turner
- Deborah Costa: General Alissa Cyan
- Howard Drossin: Kung-Fung
- Howard Drossin: Strigil
- Peter Morawiec: Gravis
- Fei Cheng: Styx the Monk
- Sue Ortlip: Mongoria
Sketch Turner: The game's protagonist. He is a comic book artist and rock musician, and is working on the Comix Zone. Sketch is hurled into the Comix Zone by Mortus and must fight his way out by defeating anything put in his way. He briefly transforms into his super hero alter ego after reaching the end of each page. His super hero meter fills up as he makes progress.
Alissa Cyan: General of the New World Empire. She is confronted by Sketch in the command center when he lands in front of her. Alissa believes Sketch is the "Chosen One" and sends him on his mission against alien forces.
Roadkill: Sketch Turner's pet rat in the real world. Sketch finds him teleported into the comic book world and trapped in a cage and rescues him. Roadkill's tail was grazed during the lighting strike, electrifying it and allowing him to shock enemies if he's let free. Often, Roadkill must help his master get past obstacles and find hidden items to solve problems.
Strigil: A shadowed alien renegade. He is known to teleport all around by merging with the ground. He also carries his namesake weapon and uses them to fire blasts or to hook onto bars.
Gravis: A giant, muscled alien renegade. Steam often comes out of the vents on his back. He relies on his ability to generate explosive springs and launch them at his foes.
Styx: A monk found in the Tibetan city. He wields a powerful staff which he uses to either fire blasts or hop upon as a pole.
Mongoria: A dangerous woman warrior who uses a hook attached to her long, braided hair. She also has a fear of mice... sometimes.
Pelagus: This renegade prefers to grasp onto anything used for climbing. His methods of attacking involve slime balls and springs that will turn into mines.
Spawn Mutant: These mutants are spawned from ooze. Try to grab them, and they might become something stronger!
Cocoon Crawler: The source of food for newly spawned mutants, these creatures will try and sting you.
Flying Creature: Not very tough, but these winged mutants can prove to be real nuisances.
Big Mama Dragon: A giant reptilian creature who hangs from the ceiling in the mutant base. She becomes upset after Sketch destroys her children. In the hopes of avenging her slain offspring, she vows to get rid of her foe. This fire-breathing reptile will also chomp at her enemy. The flaming barrel can easily get rid of her. When defeated, Big Mama comes bursting apart.
Kung-Fung: Master of the Temple on the mountains. He is in charge of training Mortus' people to fight in the Tournament. After Sketch comments on his long fingernails, he decides to teach Sketch a lesson. He sends balls of fire into the water on the chamber floor and also launches explosive fingernails at his opponent. Kung-Fung sinks into the water and comes apart.
Mortus: The main antagonist of the Comix Zone. He emerges from the pages of Sketch's comic after it is hit by lightning. After hurling his creator, Sketch, into the book, Mortus picks up a pen and draws in enemies with it, hoping to kill Sketch so that he can become real. He becomes the final boss when Sketch discovers his plan to launch a nuke upon the New World Empire. He teleports around at random during the final battle and constantly taunts Sketch. When defeated, Mortus explodes.
Sketch is capable of tearing shreds out of the backdrop and folding them into paper planes to throw at enemies as a weapon. Because this paper world is also part of everything within Comix Zone (as they are drawn on it), this action takes a significant slice off the player's health bar. Certain combos will send enemies hurtling, and if a fragile border between frames is in the way, the enemy crashes through it, tearing it to shreds. When confronted with an unbreakable frame barrier, the hero merely swings himself out of the frame, over the top of the border, and back down into the next scene. Sketch's pet rat Roadkill (whom he saved from certain doom in a garbage truck) is also capable of operating switches and discovering items hidden in panels, making him useful in helping Sketch's progress through Mortus' traps.
The game has multiple endings decided by actions taken during the final fight with Mortus. In the "good" ending, which is triggered by defeating Mortus and freeing Alissa in time, shows Sketch and Alissa leaving Comix Zone. Comix Zone becomes the highest selling comic of all time, Alissa joins the military and becomes the head of U.S Security, and Roadkill gets 100 pounds of mozzarella donated to him. In the bad ending, Sketch escapes Comix Zone, but because the player doesn't save Alissa, she dies and Comix Zone is destroyed. The story ends with Sketch contemplating re-releasing the evil to re-live his adventure in hope of a better ending.
If Sketch ever dies before reaching the final panel, Mortus will turn from ink and paper to flesh and bone, and announces, "I'm going to rock this world!"
If you complete the game three times in one sitting without using a continue, after the credits roll, a silhouette of Mortus will appear and say "You will be mine... Turner"
General notes on the game
Mortus does intend to give Sketch a 'sporting chance'. After the first page, if Sketch dies, Mortus will allow Sketch another chance to complete the page from the first panel, stating "Oh, come on -- that was just too easy!" After the second page, Sketch will get one more chance. If Sketch still has a chance at completing the game, his last words will be "Is this the end of the story?" If he has no such chances, his last words will simply be "Game over, man. The end."
As part of Sketch's travel into Comix Zone, he takes the hero's role in the story, giving him access to typical superhero fighting skills far beyond his regular abilities. If he attacks an immobile object, Sketch's health will diminish slightly, meaning that if he is low on health other tools such as explosives should be used to continue instead. One power-up - a collectible fist - temporarily transforms Sketch into Super Sketch, who shreds the page and destroys all enemies and obstacles in his path.
Comix Zone is designed to be used with the 6-button gamepad: buttons X, Y and Z correspond to the three inventory slots Sketch has. If used with a 3-button gamepad, button C cycles through the items, and button A activates the item. Button C on a 6-button gamepad is used for a custom action, blocking by default - on a 3-button gamepad, Sketch blocks automatically.
Sketch can utilize the background of the comic as a weapon. By holding down the attack button, Sketch will start tearing at the background (which uses life). Once torn, Sketch will make a paper plane out of the torn background and launch it at the enemies and objects in front of him.
Sketch's rat, "Roadkill", can be deployed to electrocute enemies or pull switches in low clearing areas which Sketch might otherwise not be able to reach. It can also be used for finding hidden items in such areas just by releasing it.
If the player keeps tapping down in the control pad, Sketch will sometimes break wind, although this has no known use in the game. When left idle, he will also sometimes smell his shoes, and say, "Aw, man!"
Comix Zone was well received by critics and audiences alike. Its main criticisms were its late release, being very hard and too short. However, its game-play, graphics, and soundtrack were highly praised. It is a modest success, becoming a hit Genesis game. Its critical ranking is 80%, based on 5 reviews.
Further releases of the game
The game was ported to the Game Boy Advance only in Europe on September 11, 2002, which was developed by Infogrames and published by Sega. Fans criticized this rerelease because of its music being very different compared to the Genesis/Mega Drive version's and having a significantly smaller screen size that allowed much less onscreen. This was said to lessen the effect of seeing into the other frames around the player, making it more like a traditional platform game.
The game is also featured hidden within the Japanese version of Sonic Mega Collection and is an unlockable game in all versions of Sonic Mega Collection Plus, which is unlockable with having a Sonic Heroes game save, or is unlocked after starting all other Mega Drive game at least 50 times. The game is also a part of the Sega Genesis Collection for the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable.
The North American release of Comix Zone included a heavy rock soundtrack, similar in style to early-1990s rock artists Nirvana and Soundgarden. The bonus CD had twelve music tracks from these American Recordings artists:
- Danzig - "Going Down To Die"
- Lordz of Brooklyn - "Saturday Night Fever"
- MC 900 Ft. Jesus - "Buried at Sea"
- Jesus and Mary Chain - "I Hate Rock and Roll"
- Love and Rockets - "Words of a Fool"
- Lords of Acid - "Do What You Want To Do"
- Stiffs, Inc. - "Chelsea"
- Julian Cope - "Try, Try, Try"
- God Lives Underwater - "No More Love"
- Ruth Ruth - "Uninvited"
- Laika - "44 Robbers"
- Lindsey - "Got It Going On"
Name = Sega Tunes: Comix Zone|
Type = Soundtrack|
Artist = Howard Drossin|
Cover = SEGATunes_ComixZone_cover.png |
Released = 1996|
Recorded = Unknown |
Genre = Video game soundtrack|
Length = 18:37 |
Label = Delta Music
Laser Light| Producer = Howard Drossin
Philip Stevenson| Reviews = | Last album = | This album = | Next album = | }}
The European release of the Mega Drive and the Windows PC versions of the game included the Sega Tunes: Comix Zone soundtrack, which contains 'enhanced' music taken from the game's soundtrack and played by a full rock band with vocals named 'Roadkill' (the main character's pet rat, as well as a playable item; see above). The soundtrack was later released in North America under the Sega Tunes label.
"Into the Zone" is a vocal version of the music heard in the games' Options screen (which is itself an extended version of the title screen music); "Feed my Disease" is based on the music heard in Episode 1, Page 2-1; "10,000 Knives" is based on the music heard in Episode 2, Page 2-2; "Seen It For Days" is based on the music heard in Episode 1, Page 1-2; "Woe Is The World" is based on the game's Boss theme; and "Last to Follow" is based on the song heard in Episode 2, Page 1-3.
The printing also reveals the artists behind the music:
Lyrics & Vocals: Howard Drossin, Tim P.
Guitar: Howard Drossin; Solos on 2 & 5: Philip Stevenson
Bass Guitar: Weird Guy
Drums: Philip Stevenson
Producers: Howard Drossin, Tim P., Philip Stevenson
Executive Producer: Roger Hector