Billed as the first living comic book. bistro blinds melbourne Comics concerns the exploits of Steve Keene: Private Spy. and is in effect, a simple, multiple-choice adventure interspersed with eight equally simple arcade-style games that appear at opportune moments during the course of the game – Climber, Swimmer, Robots, Building, Jetpack, Conveyor Belt, Rail Car and Bomber. The arcade sequences may be played in practice mode, or the entire game played as a whole.
American software company Accolade is a comparative newcomer to the UK software scene, but in roughly 18 months they’ve established themselves with a string of quality releases including Hardball, Psi-5 Trading, Law Of The West, and more recently, the impressive detective game Killed Until Dead. Accolade’s Comics is licensed from Distinctive Software, and although Comics is available for the Commodore 64 and the Apple II, US Gold have no plans to import the Apple II version into the UK.
Approaching the adventure from the top sets Steve Keene on one of several cases. Individual comic frames appear on screen, one by one, and the player is required to make simple choices every so often via the joystick or keyboard. Sometimes a speech bubble with several alternative responses appears above Steve and the joystick needs to be toggled to select which one is to be used before the story can continue to unfold. Occasionally another character’s question has to be chosen or a course of action selected. All the choices affect the flow and ultimately the outcome of the story.
The level of interaction is fairly minimal – while the stories are entertaining and amusing to read (first time around, at least) it would have been nice to have been given the opportunity to become more involved in events. The contents of the latest frame to load are usually animated and facial expressions change, arms wave, feet tap and so on, but as soon as the fire button is pressed, the next frame starts loading and the animation freezes.
Steve has five lives. He loses one if you make a fatal mistake while influencing the story, or more traditionally, the hero loses a life every time you foul up on one of the arcade sequences.
Accolade’s Comics is well produced beautifully packaged and presented, and features an excellent introductory sequence, complete with superb animated credits. Neat touches, such as the page flipping and the variety of ways used to build up a new frame as it loads, help to add variety. There’s a lot of effective comic- style story to plough through too, which is why this is a three-disk package, with both sides of each disk used.
Despite being an original and creative concept, there just isn’t enough game play to justify the hefty price tag – understandably high, given the nature of the package and the limited potential for sales in the cassette-orientated UK. Too much time is spent waiting and not there’s not enough action or thinking involved for the game hold attention for long. A self-indulgent buy, justifiable if you can afford to treat yourself to something out of the ordinary.