Kickin’ It Old School – Comix Zone

I have a question: how awesome are beat “Ëœem ups? And I’ll answer: very. There’s something about running around as the sort of muscle-bound freak Vince McMahon would cream over and beating the crap out of everything in your way that just screams, “awesome“. I have two guesses as to why this is so: a) in real life this sort of thing would be illegal, or b) those of us with skeletal structures rivaling that of a 9 year old girl probably wouldn’t last very long, so it’s fun to dream.

As far as beat “Ëœem ups go, the basic gameplay remains the same. Whether you play as the roided muscle-bound mayor of a city, a quartet of mutated turtles or a pair of brothers out to find one’s girlfriend (who, once being rescued, promptly makes the two fight to the death over her, which always struck me as a bit…odd), the gameplay mostly revolves around beating the bejeebers out of everyone in your way and advancing towards the end of the level at the behest of an arrow that says “GO!” with all the exasperation of a child waiting for his turn to go down the water slide. Therefore, gameplay isn’t going to be much of the focus of this one. You’re crushed, I know.

Comix Zone (Sega Genesis, 1995)

Comix Zone has a pretty cool story. The main character is Sketch Turner, a comic book artist. Sketch is working during a thunderstorm one night when a bolt of lightning strikes the page, and since lightning brings everything to life, the antagonist of the comic, Mortus, breaks free and traps Sketch inside. He draws enemies for Sketch to fight in a “Duck Amuck” manner. Not bad. There are three levels, with two stages each, so it’s pretty short, but it’s damn fun.

As mentioned, it’s a basic beat “Ëœem up. You go around…well…beating “Ëœem up. Not much depth to it, but who cares? It’s fun. There are also unique aspects to it as well, playing up the comic book aspect of the environment, such as jumping around the edge of a panel or turning a page to get to the next area. One thing I don’t like is that when you destroy certain inanimate objects to get them out of your way, it takes away a little health. What the hell? Yea, it’s realistic; go punch a sewer grate and tell me how much it hurts, but come on! First of all, it’s a video game, so most of the realism should go right out the window right there, and second of all, it’s a video game based inside a comic book, which should send the rest of the realism right out the window, too! What kind of comic book hero gets hurt from ripping a sewer grate off a wall? What a pussy.

There are a bunch of items you can use, like grenades and a pet rat that can turn switches or fight enemies for you, and there are also a bunch of special moves you can use with certain button combinations. Speaking of, these also take away a bit of health. Damn it all to Hell. How about two meters, “health” and “special”? That would work, wouldn’t it?

The graphics are…well, comic-like, of course. Pretty detailed, cel-shaded figures, some animated backgrounds; it’s pretty cool. The soundtrack has a sweet 90’s grunge feel to it, which isn’t the quickest way to my heart, but it’s not the slowest way either. The controls can be a bit stiff at times, but they’re pretty responsive.

All in all, this game is short, but it’s fun, it’s unique, and it’s action-packed. If you still have your Genesis, I recommend tracking it down and popping it in, and if not, you can do much worse with your $8 on the Virtual Console. Like Blue’s Journey. Don’t get Blue’s Journey.

Next time: I always wondered why, after the inclusion of the Ice Climbers in Super Smash Bros. Melee, their game never really got much recognition or respect, like the Fire Emblem series. Now I know: because Ice Climber sucks! I’ll tell you all about it next time. Until then, I’m on spring break, so leave me alone.

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