Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Decap Attack

(two heads aren't always better than one - drawing courtesy of me)

In the interest of variation, I’m going to not focus this entry on Sonic stuff. Wild, I know. SEGA had many other glorious moments, some of which are often overlooked. One of my personal favourites would have to be Decap Attack, originally an annoyingly tricky Mega Drive platformer. Apparently an “update” of a Master System game called Psycho Fox, Decap Attack involved you running around as a zombie / mummy hybrid thing by the name of Chuck D. Head, in an attempt to stop Max D. Cap from doing evil things. Or something, I didn’t really pay all that much attention to the plot.

(I never understood the presence of the monkey on this cover)

More after the jump..

I’m going to come right out and say it - Chuck D. Head is single-handedly one of the greatest character designs in existence. Okay, zombies are clichéd, yes yes. But this was 1991, so it was fine to be vaguely unoriginal (plus it wasn’t that unoriginal then, anyway). Now, most humanoid creations generally have a torso, attached to limbs and a neck which will normally have a head resting on it. But not our Chuck, oh no. Not one for conventional looks, Chuck doesn’t have a traditional head-on-neck system. Instead, he has a head implanted in the middle of his torso thanks to his creator, Dr Frank N. Stein. When Chuck wants to attack something, you know what he does? He violently pushes his head out of his chest and in to the face of some unsuspecting victim. Yes, he’s that bad ass. But further to that, Chuck also has a friend, aptly named Head – a skull who sits on his neck-lacking shoulders, only to be thrown at enemies to add to the pain. You see, you just don’t get character designs like that nowadays – characters that just make absolutely no sense whatsoever and yet are somehow still appealing.

So okay, we established Chuck’s a freak. Fair-dos. What about the game itself? It’s decent but hard – or at least, I found it hard, being an inept child. You’re quite the weak character and if you play carelessly, you’ll die very quickly. However, the game is filled with hilariously hellish environments and crazy enemies. One of the very early bosses for instance, is a bulky tribesman who charges at you and then violently throws his helmet. Then there’s the big toad. Who attacks you. I… I never really got that, it was strange. Of course, at one point you’ll also fight Max D. Cap, who’s effectively Satan. Probably couldn’t call him that in the game though – parents would get angry. I don’t see why though, I mean, you’re fighting against Satan. Surely, that’s a good thing? But anyway! The game is fun. That’s all you need to know.
(Look at the Dr's face there and tell me that isn't awesome)
What’s so great about Decap Attack is what became of it when the guys at Sonic the Comic got a hold of it. Nigel Kitching wrote and drew most of a Decap Attack series for the comic, the only non-Sonic comic in StC that actually lasted a long few years. In the context of StC, Decap Attack was completely random. You had Chuck and Head, you had Professor Frank N. Stein and you had his grimey assistant, Igor. There wasn’t really a proper continuing plot to the comics – I think there were a few mentions of Max D. Cap, like when the characters go to hell, but other than that, the game’s plot was largely ignored (what a travesty… in opposite world). The strip was the really the ‘comic relief’ of StC, with a very manic sense of humour. It focussed on the daily life of the four characters, with Igor always trying to kill Chuck, Dr Frank N. Stein creating weird things and Chuck and Head getting caught up in all the mess. Just the randomness of the characters and their situations is what made the comic great. Like when Chuck wins a trip to visit the slurpy-cheese (now in Barbecued Gibbon flavour, apparently) factory (in a very Charlie and the Chocolate Factory way), only to discover that the workers are rebelling and the factory is in disarray. Or when Dr Stein’s parents come to visit, and it’s revealed that in all reality, Stein comes from Cardiff and puts on the German accent. That, and his mum has the ability to bring back the dead in the same way he does. It was just a weird comic that didn’t make a lot of sense, but it was always fun to read. Nigel Kitching and co. did a great job with what little source material they had to work from. Even the artistic style was pretty off the wall, with lots of over exaggerated and zany expressions. It's really a shame there isn't some more detailed information about the comic anywhere on the internet, but ah well.

Again, I find myself rambling but basically, if you ever have the opportunity to check out the Decap Attack strips in StC, do it. They may seem weird and nonsensical at first, but they’ll grow on you like some kind of disgusting yet comedic fungus. Oh, and check out the game. But the comic’s better.

Fear the frog, folks.

1 comment:

The GagaMan(n) said...

Brilliant, was one of my favorite series' in STC, especially the earlier ones (didn't like it as much when Nigel Kitching stopped illustrating it).