Game Center CX Season 15 – Back to Contents
CoroCoro "Comix Zone"
After the Tant-R challenge two episodes ago, Arino returns to the Mega Drive with Sega’s Comix Zone, an American-made action game with a cool comic book aesthetic. Comic author Sketch Turner is sucked into the world of his own creation, while his main villain, Mortus is sucked out of it, now tormenting Sketch inside the comic, attempting to kill him. It’s not an easy game, and Arino will have to get through six stages (across three "episodes") in order to get to the ending.
After watching the origin story, Arino begins the first stage. Sketch is introduced to his heroine, Alissa, who will chime in with hints now and then. Arino leaps into the next panel and fights Gravis, one of Sketch’s mutant creations. Once Arino hammers on him enough, he continues to the next panel, fights another Gravis, then heads down into an underground room where he frees Sketch’s trusty pet rat, Roadkill. Roadkill will prove to be invaluable as the game goes on.
Arino heads further down in the sewers, fighting Strigil enemies, then enters a room with a lever he needs to reach by pushing a box towards it. Not the hardest puzzle ever, but it can be hard to get Sketch to "grab" the lever, for some reason. After moving ahead and beating up some more Gravis clones, Arino heads to the end of the stage.
Stage 1-2 opens with another sort-of-puzzle: a room with two big fan propellers that need to be destroyed before Arino can continue. He brute-forces it by just hitting one, but that takes away a lot of health, and the enemies that came up behind him didn’t help much, either. Nevertheless, he makes it through — only to die from enemy attacks in the next room. Next time, he gets past the fans the smart way: by sending out Roadkill to go turn them off for him.
A few panels later, Arino jumps into a room of glass capsules that contain gooey Spawn Mutants. He quickly clears out th eight of them in the room, but right after that is the Spawn Mutant Queen, the boss fight for this episode. Arino goes right up and starts walloping on the Queen, but he’s quickly pushed towards death, even when he was trying to be careful. The queen’s fireballs are just hard enough to dodge.
And then Arino learns that you only get one real continue in Comix Zone — he’s pushed back to the beginning of the game, and the whole quest starts over. Fast-forward back to the mutant queen, where Arino tries to be a little smarter — and even uses Sketch’s superhero power move — but still dies. On the fourth attempt, he even tries to get Roadkill to help, but that’s no use. Good ol’ fashioned kicks are what take out the Mutant Queen, and end the first episode.
Onto stage 2-2, the snowy climes around an ancient temple in Tibet City. Thanks to Roadkill’s resourcefulness, Arino lucks into getting a bomb item early on, which he uses to blast through a wave of enemies a few panels ahead. But then he loses Roadkill when he tries to use the rat to get under a sharp gate, but the little guy is hurt too many times and falls from the page. Arino is left to punch through the gate, which works fine. Ahead of the gate is a fire-breathing skull, and two explosive crates ahead of it. Arino takes a beat, then strikes the crates, thinking they’ll blow up the skull. They do, but they blow him up too, marking another death.
After some more goofiness (Arino wastes a superhero item in the very first panel), he makes it past the troublesome part and down deeper into the temple. He enters an arena for a kung fu tournament and must get through the gauntlet of warriors assaulting him. Unfortunately, Arino is walloped multiple times, going back through the motions.
At least of the next try he finds a secret room with every sub-item he can use. Back in the arena, he uses the superhero power to get rid of at least one nasty opponent, and then finishes things off by defeating the amazoness.
But the stage isn’t over! Arino now has to make a precarious jump across a pillar without getting struck by the fire of a Strigil, but then he rolls right off the edge. Well, it turns out a pipe bomb takes care of that faster than he expected, and stage 2-1 is finally finished.
Arino has dangerously low health just after a fight at the beginning of stage 2-2, and ends up dying again. When he restarts, he re-encounters another punchable gate, but serendipitously jumps onto a plank above him, which raises the gate. But if he jumps down, the gate comes back down. He can’t seem how to figure out how to get past it. Time passes, and Arino finally figures out he needs to do a roll to get under the gate fast enough, but getting Sketch to do it is a pain in itself. After a few more tries, though, he finally rolls through the gate.
Soon after, Arino defeats an enemy which leaves behind an energy drink, but it’s right on top of the exit arrow, meaning Arino could easily head to the next panel without grabbing the drink. He tiptoes just enough, and taps down early enough to grab the drink, then continue. Whew.
After fighting a gauntlet of amazons, Arino enters a room that is slowly burning away from the top thanks to Mortus’ doing. He needs to make it down quickly, but can’t get past the first trapdoor, so he dies. Luckily, this is a game that offers different paths through a level, so on the next try Arino just takes the detour; a sewer shaft that’s a little easier to navigate. But then he’s killed in a fight after that, and then again when going down the shaft again. Another Game Over leads to another complete restart.
But we go right back to the shaft, where Arino still can’t quite get to the bottom without getting hurt, but does make it through the sewer. There he meets the next boss, Kung Fung, the evil, floating old man. He’s pretty swift for his age, which throws Arino off a few times. But soon he figures out how to kick Kung into his own spikes that are embedded on the wall, and it’s only one other try before the boss is gone and Arino can continue to the third and final episode.
In the first section of 3-1, Arino encounters a giant disembodied monster mouth that can chomp on him if he gets too close. The easy way through is to use Roadkill, but Arino’s missing his partner. Instead he just leaps around to the back of the mouth and pummels it. In the next part, Arino gets smug when he smartly blows up a string of mines using one dynamite — until he gets to the end where there’s two more mines, and he has to punch them. Those get him near death, but it’s a surprise amazoness that kills him. Once he gets past those on the next try, he enters a room with an explosive box and some spikes down below. Somehow, this confounds him and kill him twice, when all he had to do was push the box all the way down to blow up the spikes and continue on.
And now, stage 3-2, the final challenge. Arino shimmies across ropes above some explosive traps early on and enters the rusty old battleship that serves as the final set piece. The place is filled with explosives of all kinds, and Arino has to be extra careful. He dies once already from some volatile missiles, but then gets past that room, ducks down into the next panel, and–
The game resets. Wha?! Arino’s baffled. Did he brush against the reset button or something? Nope, he wasn’t even close. And you can’t save in Comix Zone, so… basically, he’s forced to go back for nothing.
AD Takahashi walks in but doesn’t have an easy fix. Arino sucks it up and plays through the first stage again, but then notices Takahashi over on the floor, playing his own copy of Comix Zone. He’s actually been playing alongside Arino as a back-up of sorts, in case this happens again.
As Arino continues, Takahashi chimes in again, saying that he’s reached the room where Arino was last at. Arino still has to get through it on his own copy, though, and so he does. He hesitates, naturally, but then, with Takahashi’s go-ahead, he jumps down to the next panel. No glitch that time! We’re in the clear. But then Arino kills himself by punching bombs again.
On the next try, Arino makes it past the bombs (he just quickly turns away right when they explode), then heads into the final room, a half-finished panel of a nuclear missile launcher. Alissa’s trying to shut it off, but then Mortus jumps back into the comic and traps Alissa inside the fuel chamber. The fight is on! For three seconds, anyway, because Arino had just a sliver of health and thought he was still in a cut-scene.
He leaps back to the final room and restarts the fight with Mortus. Mortus isn’t easy to take down, so Arino dies again, and gets a Game Over. Thankfully we’re spared the jillionth restart.
This time, Arino nabs an energy drink just before heading to the boss, which can pretty much help him clinch this. In the fight, he realizes that Mortus can be damaged if he’s standing next to a launcher pod that Arino activates with a lever. The problem is getting Mrotus down there. Arino jumps around trying not to get hit, but saves himself with that energy drink.
Finally, Arino kills Mortus! RIght after that, facility self-destructs. Sketch returns to the real world, and the day is apparently saved. But then AD Takahashi returns to tell Arino that he got the bad ending! Why? Because Alissa drowned in the fuel chamber before Mortus was destroyed.
Takahashi shows Arino firsthand what needs to happen for the good ending. This time, Alissa is rescued, and the two return to the real world. Arino jokingly grabs hold of another controller to make it look like he was playing, but of course, we know the truth. Nonetheless, Comix Zone is finished, and Arino can put another Sega classic as a notch in his belt.
Arino is back in Kita to check out another little place, but as usual, is sidetracked by some streetside food in the shopping district. But soon he finds today’s destination, the Saitou Shoten, a corner shop with the typical assortment of treats and trinkets. Outside is a video machine, but this time there is no Metal Slug game in it; it’s Nekketsu Kouha Dodgeball, or better known in English as Super Dodge Ball. Just as Arino is ready to play, two boys on bikes come up alongside him.
He asks if they’d like to join him in playing, but one of them just goes "nah, that’s okay." Arino says it’s on him. "Nah, that’s fine." Okie doke. Arino sits down at the machine and turns it on (there’s a power switch conveniently on the front). He succesffully finishes the first round, but falters when going up against the next team.
He gets up and is ready to walk inside the store, when he’s startled by a group of girls looking at him through the door. They go ahead and wave him in, and he strolls inside. More games are here, and one that catches Arino’s eye is The Last Blade 2, the accomplished NeoGeo fighting game.
Tani’s in the crew today, so Arino invites him to play. As Kaede, Arino fights hard and is looking to win it, but then Tani turns the tables and ends up winning. Both times! Arino then immediately switches off the whole cabinet, the troll.
Finally, Arino looks at some of the old games on display at the front of the shop. He spots a little accessory for the Famicom that offers slow motion capability. Intriguied, he goes ahead and buys it. Back the office, he gives it a try with the Famicom version of Xevious, but he soon discovers that "slow motion" is just rapidly pausing the game, just like every other controller that offered that.
Now, Arino and Nishiyama read from Mega Man X, where a defeated Zero leaves X to go on and fight. Well, actually, Zero does most of the talking, so it’s Nishiyama pretty much taking over for this one. She doesn’t quite understand what’s going on in the story, though, even after Arino gives her the gist.
Game Collections: 1991: December