Review by King Broccoli

"Hahahaha. You're so funny, Captain Comic."

Oh no! Somewhere on the other side of the galaxy, three valuable treasures have been stolen!

Dismiss any far-fetched thoughts you might have of bandana-toting, muscle bound, gravel-eating antagonists making off with the loot. No sir, this is the act of an insidious band of rogues! These crimes have been perpetrated by a group of evil birds, bees, beach balls and moon rocks! This motley crew have pulled off an unthinkable crime, and it looks like it's up to poor old Captain Comic to right these heinous wrongs. That's right, your mission is to take control of the Captain (whose space-suit closely resembles an everyday pair of pyjamas), land on top of this treacherous planet, and save the day!

You'll start off starting on the doorstep of the very castle that harbours the final missing treasure. ''Too easy!!'' you think? Well think again. You're going to have to run all over this godforsaken planet, collecting keys, corkscrews and other pieces of miscellany before eventually winding up right back where you began! It's a first-rate course in pointlessness, but Captain Comic provides wicked fun throughout the entire duration of your task.

Scouring an entire planet for three little pieces of treasure takes quite a bit of pluck. It's fortunate for our Captain that this is strictly a linear affair. All you have to do is run in the desired direction, shoot anything nasty that gets in your way, and avoid falling off the bottom of the screen. If standing in the one spot for hours at a time doesn't grab you, then you're going to see some interesting places. Travelling through a lovely forest before moving onto a seaside port, a moon of some sort, a dilapidated space-craft, and eventually through to some darker and more mysterious (so mysterious, I'm going to omit their details) places. The structure of your journey has obviously been carefully planned, you're working in a relatively small area, but the designers have been able to pump maximum play time out of it.

To give you some kind of protection against the waves of bees and birds that come your way, cans of ''Blastola Cola'' have been left lying around the world. The first can gives you the ability to shoot one fireball at a time, and subsequent cans add an extra ball onto the end. The other pickups that will help you on your way are sometimes ingenious, but always necessary. Things like the aforementioned corkscrew (a tool that causes your fireballs to zig-zag across the screen), a wand for teleportation and boots for a higher jump all make the journey into the demonic abyss of the birds more enjoyable.

And don't be scoffing at the enemies just yet, just because they're figures that are usually associated with docility doesn't mean that they can't hurt you. They'll bounce at you across the screen, fly around hoping to confuse you with their agility, or roll along the ground (where your fireballs can't hit them, for a good part of the game) at you. And it never stops! They just keep coming and coming and coming and coming! It takes a great deal of stamina to be able to stand vigil against the constant onslaughts. You may start with four lives, and there may be health top-ups lying around the joint, but you're going to struggle to cope with the enemies until you've practiced your Comic skills a bit.

What makes your little quest that little bit harder is the movement of the hero. The controls of Captain Comic are simple enough, but our title-character isn't quite as responsive as most people would like. Controlling the landings of his jumps - so he doesn't fall right into a gaping hole in the middle of the scenery - is deceptively difficult. So when you apply these stiff movements to a sea-crab bouncing towards you, you can see where a great deal of the difficulty of Captain Comic stems from.

The actual look of the game is nothing too special. Your character has a very basic design, with very basic animation, but he's probably the most disappointing facet of the graphics. As you travel through the game, the scenery just keeps getting more and more impressive. It's a rather old title, but some of the screens on show here still look good in my eyes. The foreground has obviously had quite a bit of work go into it, and the background looks okay as it scrolls along repeatedly, but there's nothing much to grab your attention up until the final five minutes.

The sound is easily the most disappointing section of Captain Comic. The experience is actually heightened when played in complete silence! You've got basic noises for jumping, shooting, and being hurt; and the tiniest little tune plays when you clear a checkpoint. These noises do nothing but frustrate, so give them a miss entirely!

Despite the few shortcomings listed above, Captain Comic is a fun game at heart. You've got a game offering you a potential half hour of mindless fun. Just run along the terrain, use the various platforms to avoid holes in the ground, and wipe out a few baddies on the way. It's all very simple, but the frenetic action and gifted level design ensure that Captain Comic is not a game that you'll switch off in fury (unless you lose, but even then you'll be trying again the next day!). There is a sense of difficulty there, it's not too extreme, but you're going to have to fight for every completion of the game, and that's a damn good thing in my book. Captain Comic is a perfect little time waster, one game alone may not be the most time-consuming thing you've ever experienced, but of course one game is never enough for the Captain!


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 03/30/02, Updated 03/30/02


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