They did the mash!they did the monster mash!
Nov 1, 2004
Review by flash-hammer
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Sublime gameplay,good graphics,good music, amusing for horror/monster fans
Cons:Split screen would have been nice...
The Bottom Line: I recommend anyone with a fan of horror/monster flicks in them, or those who just love fun games track down a copy of Zombies, it's superb.
I actually intended to write my review of this game yesterday, to finish my Halloween countdown, however I decided to give it another shot when I came home from work, just so my playing memories were fresh for the review, and I ended up playing it until 3am and slept in this morning, so had to write the review today.
Recommend this product?
It's funny, when I first played this on a friend's SNES, I had never heard of it, but the moment I played it I was hooked, and bought a copy for the Sega for what I recall being cheap at the time (I think it was only about £5, this was during the console's lifespan mind), and it being one of my favourite games from childhood.
Zombies Ate my Neighbours, or simply Zombies as it's known in Europe, and as I will refer to it as for the purpose of this review, is without a doubt one of the unsung classics of the 16-Bit era. A Lucasarts game published by Konami, who were famous for a whole different type of horror gaming with their Castlevania series, Zombies didn't really set the gaming world alight upon it's release in the early 90s, and while it spawned a single sequel and appeared on both of the major systems at the time, it is a game that has been played by seemingly very few, and remembered by even less.
The story for the game is pretty standard, the evil Dr.Tongue has created a vast army of monsters (it's not clear why, world domination possibly), and it's up to two kids, Zeke and Julie to use their wits to take down his monster army and save the world.
Pidgeonholing the game into a genre is difficult, but the closest I can do is a top-down shooter, where the idea is to rescue victims before they are killed by any of the enemies, and try to take down as many baddies on the way as you can. You have a variety of weapons and items to help you in your quest, from Holy-Water squirt guns,fizzed up coke cans and popsicles to Military bazookas and Martian Bubble guns, medipacks and inflatable decoys to potions that transform you into a purple monster, there are a plethora of things to pick up and help you along your way. And you will need them, because you are going up against a wide array of enemies, from bog standard zombies to werewolves,sea-creatures,giant ants and killer plants. Some enemies require specific weapons to kill them, for instance nothing kills toxic monsters apart from popsicles and tomatoes, and naturally the best way to stop a werewolf is with silver, the silver being provided as cutlery to be thrown. There are a whopping 55(!) stages to play through, a 2-Player Co-Op mode and a solid, but not impossible difficulty level also out to hinder your progress. The game uses a password system, because naturally it would take some effort to sit through it in one sitting, and lives aren't too plentiful either.
Given that gameplay is the most important part of a game, you should know that Zombies has it spot on. It's addictive,challenging, and above all else immensely fun. While the gameplay may sound basic, rescue all victims before monsters get them and exit the level, you will have to find keys, dodge monsters that are almost too tough to kill and negotiate mazes and such to do so. In my eyes, the true sign of a great game is when it's so good that you cannot pinpoint what about the gameplay that is so great, and this is something zombies achieves with flying colours, basically because every aspect is at least very good.
I also feel the need to mention how superb the game is at paying homage/parodying horror and monster movies. Each level has a theme, each lifted from a horror/monster/Sci-Fi flick, be it Pyramid's full of mummy's, An exotic lagoon with obligatory creatures,martians attacking a high-school or giant mutant worms attacking a desert area. Like I mentioned, there are a wide array of beasties on display, all of them familiar, from the evil dolls (Chucky/Puppet Master) that continue to chase you, even on fire to the Tremor's esque worms to the hockey-masked lumberjacks that refuse to die without giving one hell of a fight (Jason Voorhees), for a fan of horror and monster movies this is a dream come true. On occasion the gameplay pulls off a nice touch itself, be it that the hardest standard enemy is the Jason-a-like, or the fact that after a certain time, the screen lighting gets darker and the 'Tourist' victims turn into werewolves, not to mention the wolves' weakness being the cutlery. The inventive weaponry is something I absolutely love about the game. Cutlery,plates,weed-whackers,tomatoes, it's just damn cool. It puts me in mind of the movie Monster Squad, because a lot of the weapons are realistic items used originally.
The stages themselves are well desgined, with the victims being spread out fairly widely and a good selection of items and such throughout.
Controls do a job as well. On a Six-Button controller, A fires,X changes weapon,B uses Item and Y circles through them. While this method is recommended, the game is playable with a 3-Button, with A firing,C using items and A+B cycling through weapons and B+C cycling through items.
While the 3-Button controls aren't perfect, they are decently useable, and I don't have any complaints about the 6-Button control scheme at all.
Graphically, I feel Zombies is actually very strong. While the sprites and stages aren't exactly realistic, a cartoon level of high detail is achieved, and achieved very well. The sprites aren't huge, but they are a nice size and very well animated. The attention to detail in the levels is also superb, especially the supermarket stages which feature individual items on shelves, abandonned trolleys and so on. Graphically I think the game is very good, while I woulnd't say it pushes the console to it's limits, it's certainly above even good in terms of quality.
The sound in the game is also of a good standard, and when you consider that the console comes into stick for it's sound capabilites, you wouldn't think so if you played this. The music is excellent, a little creepy, but at the same time not too creepy and even a little mischievous and fun. A lot of it is very memorable, with special note going to stage 4, Lumberjack Hedgemaze Mayhem, which , Im not sure if any American readers will get this, but for the Brits, is a demonised version of the 'mum's gone to iceland' jingle used in the adverts for the supermarket, and is ten times scarier than that sounds.
As are the sound effects, especially those bloody horrible Chucky dolls and their hideous battle cry that still gives me the shakes nowadays.
On the whole, Zombies is just a plain joy to play. If I had to name a fault, possibly the fact that on 2-Player you cannot go split-screen, because using a system similar to Toejam and Earl where you share a screen where possible, but it splits when you walk apart, would have been delightful, but even as it is, the game is quite frankly superb. Single player gaming is excellent, and when you get a friend for Co-Op it's simply frightening how good it is to play.
If you own a Genesis/Megadrive and don't own this, you are missing out. It's a beatiful game that deserves to grace any collection. If you don't own the console, but are a fan of horror/monster movies, it's worth tracking one down just to play Zombies, it's a superb parody come homage of the genre, and simply one of the most enjoyable games I have ever had the pleasure of playing. Even if you aren't a particular fan of horror movies, which I wasn't really upon first playing, the excellent gameplay means that it isn't required, although it definitely does help.
If you have ever played the game, chances are you will know I shouldn't have to justify the full marks I'm giving it, but for those whom this passed by, it deserves the score basically because it's incredibley fun,humourous in spots, and generally one of the most quirky and unique 'shooters', if you want to call it that, that I have played. So, in short, Zombies is an excellent game, and one I would recommend to anyone.
I really do hope that one day we see a Gameboy Advance port of it, because when you consider some of the rubbish 16-Bit titles being put to the GBA, surely a classic like this is long overdue.
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