Retro Gaming Corner: Comix Zone
If you are a fan of retro games, comic books, or both, you might have heard of Comix Zone, a 1995 beat ’em up game developed and published by Sega for the Genesis. Comix Zone is not your typical side-scrolling action game, as it is set within the panels of a comic book, with dialogue rendered within talk bubbles and sprites and backgrounds possessing the bright colors and dynamic drawing style of superhero comics. This style had been used in video games previously, for example Ocean Software’s Batman: The Caped Crusader in 1988, but Comix Zone stretched the idea to such an extent that Sega applied for and was granted a patent for a “videogame system for creating a simulated comic book game”.
Comix Zone tells the story of Sketch Turner, a “starving artist” and freelance rock musician living in New York City, who is working on his newest comic book, named Comix Zone. It 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 thunderstorm, a lightning bolt strikes a panel of his comic. In this instant, its main villain, a powerful mutant named Mortus, escapes the comic book’s pages, desiring to kill Sketch so he can become flesh and blood and take over the real world. Because he does not possess any power in reality, Mortus sends Sketch into the world of his own comic, freely drawing in enemies attempting to kill him. Inside the comic book, Sketch meets General Alissa Cyan, who believes he is “the chosen one” who came 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. It is up to Sketch to stop Mortus’s evil plans and find a way out of his own comic world.
In this article, we will explore the history and development of Comix Zone, its gameplay and features, its reception and legacy, and why it is still a fun and unique game to play today.
History and Development
The concept for Comix Zone originated from a 1992 demo video for the Amiga titled “Joe Pencil Trapped In The Comix Zone”, animated by Peter Morawiec. Morawiec was a fan of comic books since childhood