Monday, October 1, 2012

"Comix Zone", 1995.

The comic book medium has been a popular theme for games -- from Accolade Comics in 1987 and the ill-advised foray into InfoComics in '88-'89 through to '90s multimedia efforts like Inverse Ink, misguided developers have tried to make games that work like comics and failed miserably. (Need it be so? No! For example, consider Jason Shiga's Meanwhile -- of course, he didn't start with a computer and thus avoided numerous pitfalls.) Games aren't the only medium that have fallen for this trap -- consider Ang Lee's fascinating failure with his Incredible Hulk movie.
While I won't go so far as to brand this somewhat limited game a success, it was definitely among the most successful efforts... so much so that I need inquire, where is this game's sequel? It was re-released for all of the current "next-gen" (?) consoles, but you can only squeeze so much blood from a potato. (Or how is it that expression goes?)

Comix Zone

WATCH OUT, SKETCH!
JUMP!!
WACK!!!

WARP INTO THE COMIX ZONE
WITH ALL THE ACTION AND ADVENTURE OF YOUR FAVORITE COMICS!
RIP UP THE PAGE
WITH SUPERHERO POWER-UPS AND TONS OF INTENSE FIGHTING MOVES.
BATTLE PANEL BY PANEL
THROUGH FULL COMIC BOOK PAGES DRAWN BY REAL COMIC BOOK ARTISTS!
SHARPEN YOUR FIGHTING SKILLS
TO DEFEAT MUTANT ENEMIES DRAWN IN BY MORTUS, PUBLIC ENEMY NO. 1

ENTER THE COMIX ZONE

AND PREPARE FOR THE FIRST TRULY INTERACTIVE COMIC BOOK EVER! TEAR INTO A POST-PUNK COMIC WORLD OF YOUR OWN CREATION, WHERE ONLY YOU CAN FIGHT YOUR WAY OUT. IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR HARDCORE ACTION AND REAL COMIC BOOK THRILLS, THIS IS WHERE YOU DRAW THE LINE!

CD BONUS CD SOUNDTRACK INCLUDED

Visit the Sega Worldwide Web Site for more cool Sega stuff at http://www.segaaa.com

There are a number of things here I can't help but quip about. All the action and adventure of my favorite comics? I don't know if I have what it takes to play the Maus game, and as for American Splendor... (Lost Girls, on the other hand... Howard the Duck however did get a game of his own, but we'd probably rather he hadn't.) There's always been a kind of casual equation of comics to escapist superhero power fantasies and that's never really been representative even here in North American, where certainly Archie occupies as much landfill space as Superman does. But because a Doom Patrol game would be incomprehensible (albeit f'n AWESOME) I let it slide.

The pages are drawn by real comic book artists? This game is released at a time when Rob Liefeld is breaking sales figures drawing comics in which people are drawn with fists as big as their heads, so I hope the artists were slightly more real than that.

What makes this game "the first truly interactive comic book ever"? I suppose they're hoping people had forgotten about those Accolade and InfoCom titles.M

What makes this game so "post-punk"? A: while the protagonist still owns a pet rat, his mohawk has been replaced by a ponytail. (Also: he has a profession, of sorts!) "This is where you draw the line" is funny, if somewhat nonsensical.

More signs of the times -- you know what else is post-punk? Bonus CDs! Now, what do compact discs have in common with comic books and video games? Uh... young people like them? May as well bundle the game with a coupon for a free Slurpee!

Finally, I dig "the Sega Worldwide Web Site": apparently we have one now, but our manual of style doesn't tell us how to capitalise or space it.