Round Table: Is Comix Zone too hard?

RoundTable[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.


Comix Zone is one of my most played video game on the SEGA Genesis during my childhood along with the likes of Streets of Rage and Golden Axe. I remember coming over to my cousin’s house to play Comix Zone listening to Sketch Turner’s opening quote (“Testing 1,2 Seegaa!”). The game’s visuals are dazzling with comic style characters and settings. Not to mention the rocking tunes composed by Howard Drossin, known for his work on Sonic & Knuckles and Dynamite Deka (Die Hard Arcade) during his time in Sega Technical Institute. However, when it comes to the game’s difficulty, Comix Zone can be a bit tricky to play through to the end.One of the issues I had while playing Comix Zone is during a certain part of a level, you have two enemies to worry about while hanging on a rope. One enemy would be a flying stinger while another is a humanoid man shooting projectiles at the same time. Another issue I had was not having a life system programmed in Comix Zone and continues only popping up at random.If we had a few changes for Comix Zone, I would definitely agree with Barry on Comix Zone receiving the 3D Classic treatment with newer features such as a easy mode. Another suggestion I have when it comes to rebalancing the game, maybe our friends from Sonic Retro could maybe one day bring the game back in HD like their doing with Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
Nothing is greater than finding a game with the perfect balance of difficulty, great level design and of course a kick-ass art style. Comix Zone had almost everything done outside of the perfect balance of difficulty. Don’t get me wrong, I love a challenging game but there comes a point where it is almost annoying. Comix Zone is one of those game that really needed some sort of difficultly option in the menu. The game should have had at least three difficulties:
  • 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.

What do you guys think? Tell us in the comments below.


14 responses to “Round Table: Is Comix Zone too hard?

  1. Centrale says:

    It seems to me the idea that just anyone should be able to experience the whole story of a game, is some newfangled contraption-type thinking. Oh, you want to see the whole story? How about you take an a$$whippin’ instead! GAME OVER. That’s how it was in my youth. That’s how it should always be!

    But, admittedly, taking damage from knocking down an obstacle is a bit weird… not too many games have a mechanic like that, unless it’s obviously something dangerous like spinning blades.

    • Dan says:

      There’s definitely something to be said for your first point… I remember renting games back in the day, seeing screenshots of later levels on the back of the box, knowing I’d never get that far; there was no YouTube to watch a playthrough… everything was a surprise and a mystery.

  2. Whatever says:

    Yeah the game was kind of hard honestly. I also agree with what centrale said

  3. cube_b3 says:

    I believe the PC version did have difficulty options. I am sure it did.

    Comix Zone is one of those games that compensates it’s short length with hard difficulty. That said, I did master the game and could finish the game anytime I played it although getting the Good Ending… now that’s a different story.

  4. Andre Santos says:

    In my opinion, Comix Zone is not a hard game. Of course, I lost a lot of lives but, when you learn what needs to be done…

  5. Buru says:

    As far as I remember, it was a tough game. It got to the point where I had sections memorized or knew glitches to clear a panel without fighting enemies. It’s a rough game solely because the levels are long, and the Tea is few and far between. Don’t use the airplane unless you know you can continue on well enough. That airplane will also hurt you..badly I might add.

  6. CopyMirror says:

    That game has the correct difficulty. It’s actually games today that lack the difficulty… unless it’s DarkSouls XD

  7. segagen85 says:

    Hitting objects and losing energy is just a cheap way to make it harder. I cant imagine this in streets of rage or any other game. 1 life, no continues, yea this game wasnt being cheap at all. Lol
    I love the game but damn its CHEAP! 😄

  8. bruno says:

    the game wasnt cheap. most of the parts with objects you had to break to continue came with an enemy that could do the job for you. for example the rope part. i only had the bad ending but still it was great.

  9. CataCat says:

    I’m honestly kind of surprised. I played this game several times as a kid and finished it many times because I didn’t want the girl to die. But I never thought it was difficult. I honestly thought the mechanics were easy enough and that the game was rather challenging. Or course I died a couple of times, but that was pretty normal back in the day, and this game never made me throw my joystick afar in anger, as ECCO the dolphin did in the final levels…
    And now… Now I’m 33 years old and I just learnt this game is supposed to be hard.
    Honestly? I mean? Have we gotten so used to thing being easy?
    Where is the thrill of the challenge? The happiness of finally finishing a level? The discovery of a hidden passage? Avoiding a trap you fell for the first time and thinking “oh no… Not this time, mate!”

    I honestly wouldn’t add anything to the game itself. If some people can’t handle it. Maybe just the addition on an easy level for them and that would be it.

  10. CataCat says:

    And copymirror is totally right!

  11. timo says:

    Comix zone is difficult, not in the actual gameplay, but in the manners the devs programmed things like lifespan, and losing life for hitting objects. In the 90’s I couldn’t understand it. As an adult all I can figure is games in general back in those days were NOT created in the interest of fun or ease of play, they were all arcade- oriented which meant the games were built to be enjoyed in small bite-size amounts and then to take more of your money. Concepts like 1 life in the entire game, no continues, having to start at the beginning of the GAME not the level your on were all so you could lose the game quickly, and put in your money to play it some more. When consoles began imitating arcade titles the mentality behind games remained the same. Its no coincidence even the kids games’ of the 90’s are blindingly more difficult then they are today.

    And unfortunately, a game isn’t fun any longer once you have to once the systems impede on the game play experience

  12. Weston says:

    The fighting mechanics are great and it’s a really fun game, but one life and no continues is ridiculous. That’s artificial difficulty.

    Yes Dark Souls is hard but you can strategize how you’ll go forward in the game. Want to save at a bonfire? That’s fine, but be ready for all of the bad guys to respawn. Want to take on that knight in the distance? Go ahead, but be ready for the consequences when he kills you in two hits.

    One life and no continues is BS. The game’s mechanics are awesome but they gimp the game by making it excessively difficulty for no reason other than to pad the length. Even three lives and no continues would have been a massive improvement and that wouldn’t have made the game “too easy”.

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