I’ve written a few times now about my family’s fabled first PC, a 1995 Packard Bell that had the faint air of a sickly Victorian child, resurrected as a sullen robot a century after finally succumbing to an ill-defined but fatal spluttering sickness. It was a machine that seemed to be ailing from day one, but since it was the first PC we’d had, we just gratefully accepted what we had been given. The same went for the selection of games it came with, too – and hence, Comix Zone.
Comix Zone was a 1995 Mega Drive game that got ported to Windows 95 in November of that year – and only in looking that up, have I realised just what a fresh release it was, when I first played it that Christmas. Its story was that of a man with small circular spectacles and a very 90s ponytail, who is sucked into the comic he’s drawing, and… nope, can’t remember the rest. But I suspect it wasn’t too full of surprises. It was a beat ‘em up, and the really cool thing about it – genuinely – was that the levels were all comic pages, where you would have to fight through each panel, before somehow busting through into the next.
I’ve tried to gauge, with a brief online trawl, what the world’s retrospective consensus on Comix Zone is, but after five minutes of looking, the answer seems to be a collective shrug. I’d love to tell you myself, but I only played the first four or five panels, about a dozen times, before giving up. I can’t honestly say whether this was because it was bastard hard, or because there was some vital, progression-necessary feature that the game’s lack of manual had left me unaware of.
In fact, the single thing I can remember, past the comic-panel gimmick and the look of the protagonist, was the first enemy – a sort of cockney rat man, who would repeatedly bellow “Pack it in!” when you hit him, and then “Buurn” as he shot fire at you. That’s it, I’m afraid: that is my sole enduring memory of Comix Zone. So: have you played it? Was it any good? What further insight can you provide on the “pack it in” man?