The Adventures of Captain Comic (or just Captain Comic) is a classic 1988 MS-DOS platform game which is known for being one of the first side-scrolling games made for the IBM PC. It was developed entirely by Michael Denio. The PC version of the game was distributed as shareware. Later a version for the NES was published by Color Dreams as an unlicensed title. An unofficial conversion for the SAM Coupé also exists. It was also cloned as "Pioneer Xenia" in 1990 by a team of Ukrainian programmers.
In the game, the player takes control of Captain Comic, who is on a mission to the planet Tambi to recover three treasures stolen from the planet Omsoc. Its author, Michael Denio, writes in the introduction to the game's manual: The Adventures of Captain Comic started out as an experiment to test the viability of two theories, the first as to whether a real arcade type game can be done on a standard IBM PC with an EGA card, and secondly, given the first can be done, if it is possible to make any money doing it. Well, I've come to a conclusion on the second point, but I'll let you judge the first point for yourself.Although neither the original, nor its sequel were commercial successes, Captain Comic is best known for its historical significance to classic PC games. The theme song for Captain Comic was traditionally a rendition of the United States Marine Corps Hymn. The song was changed in Version 5 (the final revision of the game, released in 1991).
Captain Comic follows many standard platformer conventions. The player has health, lives, a score, and a set of useful items. The game is divided into a number of major areas (see list above), and each area is divided generally into three smaller "zones". Transitioning between zones plays a short tune and marks a "safe point", since all enemies are removed from the screen and Comic's position is saved.
Comic has twelve "shield" points (health), but each time an enemy hits him, two points are removed. Once the shield has been reduced to 0, Comic is still alive, but will die on the next hit. (Thus Comic must be hit seven times to die, from full shield). Occasionally, shields can be found which instantly replenish Comic's health to full, or if it is already full, grant him an extra life. Comic starts the game with four lives, and can go up to a maximum of five. If Comic is killed by either falling off the bottom of the screen, or being hit with no shield points remaining, a life is lost and he is returned to the point where he last entered this zone. If all lives are lost, the game ends.
Many of the games enemies have different AI behaviour compared to one another - ranging from simple bouncing off the walls and pre-set paths to creatures who seek the player out and turn to follow Comic as he passes by. Enemies are generally restricted to their own area (Space Pollen is only on the moon, for example), and a few move faster than the others. All enemies have the same gameplay property which is that if they touch Comic, the enemy is destroyed and Comic suffers two points of shield damage. Once he has picked up a Blastola Cola (the first one is found at the very start of the game), Comic may shoot at enemies. If he hits an enemy, it is destroyed and points are scored.
Since there is no time limit to the game, it is generally preferable to be patient and clear each zone of the dangerous enemies present there. This also has the desired result of increasing the score.
All versions of the game are either freeware or shareware. The game can be downloaded legally from the following sites:
- DOS Games Archive - Version 5 (1991) (Latest)
The following pages (in addition to the above pages) provide additional information about the game:
- The Adventures of Captain Comic at MobyGames
- Mitch's Paradise - includes information about the original theme song.
- Captain Comic General FAQ - includes walkthrough, relates to NES version.
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