The first time I heard the title Captain Comic, I expected something truly badass.
Either this was going to be a superhero game or something closer to Comix Zone, with a comic book theme to it.
Turns out that this was a little harmless side-scroller about a dude who walks around with a helmet, shooting birds in the face and jump-cutting to the Moon. For an old DOS game, it was actually decent enough: the graphics were colourful, the gameplay was straight-forward and as annoying as all those erratic floating sprites were, Captain Comic was still a likeable game.
You can see/hear me struggling to play it here:
Then came the NES version.
Courtesy of the people behind Wisdom Tree (a company making unofficial Christian-themed NES games at the time) and, by extension, the infamous Noah’s Ark 3D, this Captain Comic was certainly different. Keeping the same premise and the same rough layout, this was most definitely recognisable as a Captain Comic game, though.
That said, this is a strange one.
The story’s the same: you beam down to a planet, walk around shooting at birds and other weird characters until you recover some kind of treasure, that’s pretty much it. This time, however, you look more like a straight-up astronaut than a funky dude with a cool helmet. You’re not so much an intergalactic hero like in the old game, you’re just an astronaut.
It’s like if Flash Gordon wore a suit and tie at all times, it’s weird.
The controls are somewhat smoother than in the DOS game in that the jumping and shooting are made slightly easier to manage. You also have more screen to see as the NES version does away with that annoying overlay that took up most of the screen in the other version. Definitely a good change there.
There’s still a big emphasis on shooting birds, which I still don’t understand. Having said that, I would have been really disappointed if that didn’t happen in the NES game, that’s like the essence of Captain Comic! That’s what he does! Take that away from him and you’re left with the shell of a once iconic, intergalactic being.
It’s like taking away all the joy and optimism from Superman’s character! Can you imagine if a movie did that?!
I have to say it IS a bit strange that Captain Comic looks so bland in this game. He looks unfinished, like if they lifted the dude from an old Game Boy game, made him look redder and blindly placed him in this console. The animation on the character when he’s walking is better but other than that: he looks really unimpressive.
Check him out before:
Dennis The Menace-style overalls: check.
Yellow dish-washing gloves: check.
Shazam logo: check.
Blue bike helmet: check.
What happened to you, man? You used to be cool!
Anyway, this NES version also has some of the most inappropriate music I’ve heard in a game. You’re getting all these slightly altered (read: slightly worse) versions of famous classical pieces and when all you’re doing is running around picking up shields and stepping on aliens, it feels weird. Not 2001: A Space Odyssey weird, just… bad weird.
Again, I find that really unimaginative and kinda random for no reason.
The only way it would make sense is if that’s the music Captain Comic was listening to inside his helmet but even then: why does his recording of Mozart sound so butchered?
Now I know I should be thankful that there is in fact music in this game, in the old one you got a little 2 second theme here and there but most of the time it was silent except for your gun shots. Honestly, I think I liked that better, this meant more emphasis on the sound effects and an altogether more appropriately spacey feel. That’s just a personal preference, though.
The locations in this game are as odd as always, more so in fact.
There’s grassy pyramids:
The Merry Old Land Of Tubes:
And the Moon:
Again, like in the old game, you travel to the Moon instantly: you literally get in the rocket and when you come out seconds later, you’re on the Moon. Why are these guys so against cut scenes? Besides, couldn’t he have just beamed there directly?
Some levels try to be all clever and actually hide the doors you’re meant to go through. As you can imagine, this is more frustrating than it is a pleasure.
You try it! Find the door:
Good thing those fiery torches were there!
I like how dumb some of the animals you face are. You know in Super Mario Bros. how Goombas stop when they get to a ledge and walk back the other way? Most of them anyway…
Not here. If a snake gets to a ledge, this happens:
Easily my favourite bit in the game though is when you find a secret passage through the walls and find this guy:
WHO IS THIS?!
Does that mean that someone was dumb enough to find the secret passage, get lost on the way across and die?!
That’s… both sad and frankly deserved!
The game ends with you recovering the treasure and beaming back to your ship:
As you do.
Overall, I would almost never say this but… I think I like the DOS version better!
Captain Comic on the NES isn’t a bad game, it’s definitely playable and Michael Denio’s programming is still solid but the older game just had more charm to it and its simpler visuals made it more appealing to the eye, in my opinion. I wish they’d made a Sega Genesis version of the game, that could have been weirdly awesome!
Still an ok enough game, I’d say give it a go but honestly I would recommend ditching it early on and playing the original instead. Make sure you check out Mr Bailey’s review of the game HERE.
I almost forgot! The game has an end screen: