Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review: Zombies Ate My Neighbors (SNES)

Zombies Ate My Neighbors
Run and Gun, Super Nintendo Entertainment System
1993 Konami

Over a decade before Dead Rising, there was only one way for gamers to get their comical, zombie-slashing, destructive fun. From Dracula, to Frankenstein, to just about any B-movie creature you could conceive of, this game has them all. Even a few you may never have heard of before. Horror fans rejoice, because today we discuss Zombies Ate My Neighbors!

Through most of my SNES years, Zombies Ate My Neighbors was a mainstay in my console. Like all good arcade-style games, the first thing you do is to pick a character. Zeke, the 3D glasses-wearing bart simpson wannabe, or Julie, the sporty cheerleader type girl. Your choice has no effect upon the gameplay aside from aesthetic value.

Things start simple. You are armed with naught but a squirt gun, and find yourself facing some zombies. Quick work can be made of them and the player continues on to rescue all variety of innocents from the growing monster invasion. There is no real plot development, but each level has a theme, with later levels becoming quite varied in their scenery. A level is beaten when either all civilians are rescued, or none remain (they can be killed by monsters). At least one person must be rescued to be able to continue onward.

Jason Voorhees eat your heart out.

Horror movie knowledge is of great benefit in this game, because the abundance of bizarre weapons is most efficient when used correctly. Werewolves are most easily dispatched with silverware, vampires with a crucifix, and so forth. In a pinch, you can use whatever is on hand to kill most enemies. The best tools are rare, so sometimes you don't have the luxury of using the best weapon for a given situation. There is a vast array of items, including inflatable clowns that distract enemies, potions that turn you into a werewolf/hulk-like beast, weed whackers, and even bazookas. Alien plants spread a purple algae that hurts when your character walks across it, but a weed whacker can clear you a path. If you're stuck in a hedge maze with chainsaw maniacs, a bazooka can blast holes straight through the walls to create a much more direct escape route. Never are any of these items specifically required, but the freedom of choosing to use brute force instead of smarts makes for a great time.

In-game, this giant baby runs around like Speedy Gonzales.

Oh boy, the bosses. Every few levels is a boss battle, and let me tell you, these baddies don't go down easy. Any arsenal you've accrued by the time you get to a boss will be spent quite rapidly. I'll refrain from spoiling them, because some are really impressive and will catch you off guard.

For me, the game shines most in co-op mode. Playing with a friend will really make you rediscover the game in a new light. Players are tethered together (meaning no split screen, and you can't moved ahead if your friend isn't tagging alongside you). In general, this is of no consequence, but if you are playing with a friend who likes to "go rogue" and wander about, it can make for some hilarious and frustrating situations. Though working together to rescue the victims, marks my words: a natural competitiveness will arise between the two of you. The lure of a high score, and the limited number of weapons in each area can bring the best of friends to a fierce rivalry.

I'm a story-driven/RPG gamer at heart, but give me a game as fun as Zombies Ate My Neighbors and I'll take gameplay over plotline any day of the week. It's easy to pick up, easy to introduce to more casual gamer friends, funny, and nostalgic. For any who enjoy the horror genre, this is a must-play. You will find yourself picking out characters from all kinds of B movies you forgot even existed. Avoid the sequel, Ghoul Patrol, at all costs, but do enjoy the original!

1 comment:

  1. I admit, I loved this game, but I totally sucked at it. It was fun for me to watch someone else play.