A Nintendo Hard
Platformer/Brawler created for the Sega Genesis
/Mega Drive in 1995.
Sketch Turner, a Starving Artist
and freelance rock musician, is working on his newest comic book, named the "Comix Zone
." Comix Zone 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 storm, a massive lightning bolt strikes outside his apartment, somehow affecting the comic book too
. In this instant, the main villain of Comix Zone - a powerful mutant named Mortus - manages to escape the comic book's pages
, and hurl the stunned Sketch (and his now electrified pet rat Roadkill) into the world of Comix Zone. Mortus intends to free himself by destroying Sketch in the comic book, as he is unable to do so in reality.
Inside the comic book, Sketch meets General Alissa Cyan, who believes he is a superhero ("the chosen one") who has come 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
Now that Mortus has a physical presence outside of Comix Zone, he is free to change the world as he wishes, simply by drawing in enemies for Sketch to face - or in one instance burn up part of a page. It's up to Sketch to fight panel to panel across his comic book before a final nuclear showdown with Mortus.
This game provides examples of:
- Amplified Animal Aptitude: Roadkill the rat. He has the ability to zap enemies, since the lightning affected him also.
- Art Attacker: Mortus.
- Art Shift: The final panel is partly unfinished. It's all just pencil sketches.
- Awesome McCoolname: Sketch Turner and General Alissa Cyan.
- Bottomless Pits: Providing instant death, just in case the game wasn't hard enough already. There's exactly one pit that requires pixel-perfect timing to cross, and naturally it's in the last level. What doesn't help is that continues are only available after you beat the boss of the even paneled stages. This gives you at most three tries before having to start over from the first level.
- Your first introduction to these pits appears on the first page.
- A Boy and His X: A man and his rat.
- Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: At the end of the game, Alissa foiling Mortus' scheme in the comic world is enough to lure him back from the real world, at which point Sketch can proceed to kill him.
- Downer Ending: The bad ending, if you take too long to defeat the boss.
- Eek, a Mouse!!: Mongoria (the redhead with hook-tipped braids) hurls herself out of the page if you sic Roadkill at her. She even quotes the trope word for word.
- Eldritch Abomination: The paper airplane.
- Evil Brit: The London-accented Mooks.
"Gimme the respect I deserve!"
- Fourth Wall: Sketch and Mortus only speak to each other in person, which probably means that the Fourth Wall is still in effect.
- Mortus technically breaks it in the comic's world by constantly drawing in new enemies and hazards for Sketch.
- Game-Breaking Bug: If you're going to use the Invincibility code, make sure you don't land in lava, as it will lock up the game.
- Gladiator Games: Sketch wanders into the middle of these in the second stage.
- Good Old Fisticuffs: While you do get a few limited items, most of the fighting is done with your fists and feet.
- Here We Go Again: A rather dark take on it. If you beat Mortus but fail to save the girl, Sketch will try to recreate the comic world so that he can enter it again to win the right way.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Kung Fung can be made to injure himself with his own exploding fingernails.
- Invulnerable Knuckles: Averted and played straight: punching destructible props causes you to lose about a pixel of health with every blow, but you're still fine with beating up enemies.
- It's a Wonderful Failure: Crossed with Non-Standard Game Over and Have a Nice Death; rather than any old game over screen, dying with no continues gives you the worst ending!
- Kill It with Fire: How you're supposed to kill the first stage's boss. You can try it the hard way, if you feel daring.
- In the second stage, Mortus tries to do this to you by setting the page on fire!
- Logo Joke: Like many Genesis games, this game also has one ("Test, 1, 2. SEGA!")
- Cyber-Cowboy in Manhattan: Mortus.
- Meaningful Name: Sketch Turner is a comic book artist. Also his previous incarnation, Joe Pencil (see below). "Turner" can also refer to the act of "turning" pages.
- Medium Awareness: Sketch, being the comic's creator, frequently interacts with the medium, being able to flip the pages, find stuff behind the paper, and fold the page pieces into paper planes.
- Most Writers Are Writers: Sketch is a comic book artist/writer.
- Multiple Endings: Which you get depends on whether you can beat Mortus quickly enough to rescue Alissa. If you succeed, you can bring her into the real world with you. Alternatively, see It's a Wonderful Failure above.
- Nintendo Hard: Just see the entry.
- Oh Crap: Kung Fung's introduction ends like this:
Sketch: Nice fingernails, dude.
Kung Fung: Do you wish I use 'em, dude?
Sketch: *thinking* Oh dear!
Kung Fung: *proceeds to attack rapidly*
- Paper Master: Sketch can tear part of the page off and make lethal paper airplanes out of it. Mortus's only means to kill his creator are to pull him into the page and draw monsters to attack him.
- The insane damage of the airplane is likely justified in that you are attacking the beings of the world with what equates to the undiluted fabric of their own reality. And as a consequence, making the paper plane puts a big dent in Sketch's health bar.
- Puzzle Boss: All of them. The first stage's boss can be killed by setting a flaming barrel under her, the second is weak against his own fingernails and the final boss can be killed by luring him under the rocket and setting off the thrusters. Naturally, all three can be beaten to death normally, it's just a lot harder (and, in the case of the final boss, will cause you to get the bad ending unless you're ridiculously good).
- Pinocchio Syndrome: Mortus wants to be Real so he can take over the world.
- Rage Against the Author: Mortus's plan to kill Sketch to become Real. Sketch then rages against his would-be killer by fighting through all the villains he can draw.
- Rodents Of Unusual
Size Ability: Roadkill is a rat with electric powers.
- Save Scumming: Sonic Mega Collection (Plus for those outside Japan) Sega Genesis Collection (or Sega Mega Drive Collection in Europe) and Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection (Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection in Europe) all allow you to use save states. It helps a lot.
- Schizo Tech: Sketch's comic world vaguely resembles Thundarr the Barbarian, a mishmash of science, sorcery and mutants.
- Sequel Hook: "until..." Also, Super Sketch.
- Show Within a Show: Sketch's comic, obviously.
- Starving Artist: Sketch describes himself as this at one point.
Hey, I'm just a starving artist! Well, I used to be...
- What Could Have Been: The game was originally pitched as Joe Pencil trapped in the Comix Zone, featuring the same basic concept but a radically different plot and character design. Check it out.
- Witty Banter
- Worthy Opponent: How the game justifies your continues; apparently Mortus doesn't find it very sporting if Sketch dies after surviving long enough, and gives him another try.