[Above art by SavinArtem via DeviantArt]
Welcome to another installment of our Round Table series. This one will be part of our Comix Zone week and will be looking at the questions asked by SEGA fans in the mid-90’s: Is Comix Zone too hard? There have been very few people I know that have beaten the game without using stuff like safe states or cheats. It is just one of those games that takes dedication and patience. Something most of us didn’t have much as a kid. Of course you can tell us your opinions in the comments.
Let’s get this discussion started!
I loved my SEGA Genesis as a kid, but most of the time I felt that I was just too young to be able to master many of the system’s games. Now, 25 years later, I’ve come to realize that games back then were by and large just very difficult. With a game like Comix Zone, a title that I rented but never owned in the 90’s, it has all the aspects of a great Genesis game but it is also hard as nails. I think the best way to reintroduce Comix Zone would be as a Nintendo 3DS 3D Classic release. As 3D Ecco the Dolphin demonstrated, a simple invincibility option goes a long way in allowing players to fully experience a game without the frustrations.
However, I don’t think Comix Zone would benefit from invincibility, as without the risk of dying where is the challenge at all? Instead, I’d add an option in which the health bar doesn’t drop so fast (especially when attempting to break objects) and give players unlimited lives. The 3DS Shinobi (the packaged release, not the 3D Classics release) comes to mind as a difficult game made tolerable thanks to check points and the Easy option which gives players unlimited lives. That right there would make Comix Zone the perfect game. Sure you might die a lot, but at least you wouldn’t have to start all over.
Can a game be too hard? Certainly. I’ve played plenty of games (mostly Sonic games) loaded with cheap deaths. Is Comix Zone too hard, though? Well, sort of. I’ve never actually gotten past the first few areas of the second level, and even that I only did with the help of save states. Still, the game never seems unfair in its difficulty: every piece of damage I receive is usually due to my own screw ups, and there are few gaming experiences more satisfying then perfecting my skills with a game’s mechanics.
If the game only had more lives, or some kind of password system, I think the game’s difficulty would be pitch perfect. As it is, I’m afraid I might have to rely on save states in an official emulator or on my Mega Everdrive if I’m ever going to see the game all the way through. There’s no denying the satisfaction a purist run on a classic Genesis cart would bring, though.
- Hard: This option would have had the game we know now.
- Normal: Reduce damage when hitting objects, throw in a few continues.
- Easy: No more damage when hitting objects, a few more health hiding places and the same amount of continues as Normal.
Comix Zone is just one of those games where they take a bit of your health here and there. Its frustrating to be forced to lose health on doing simple tasks such as moving foward in a stage due to some obstacle placed there. Where is the skill in that? At least when I play a game like Shinobi, I know what I did wrong and how to correct it so I won’t die in an area. But in Comix Zone, I can’t do anything when it comes to mandatory objects that take health away when you hit them. I understand that part of the game is saving your health and being patience, but sometimes I just think partly the game is cheap. Partly. I still love the game but I think having the ability to choose difficultly would have made it quite a bit more replayable.