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Zombies Ate My Neighbors




One of the issues with video games nowadays is the focus on graphics and technology rather than gameplay. With the 16-bit consoles, companies had already pushed the limits with graphical capabilities in games like Starwings and Donkey Kong Country, forcing developers to use their creativity and originality to develop new games with a focus on fun gameplay.


Enter Zombies Ate My Neighbors, a game that takes every B-grade horror film ever made, throws them into a blender and adds two plucky heroes to save the day. Taking the role of either Zeke or Julie, the horror-flick-loving kids, it's up to you to save your innocent neighbors from all kinds of horrors in this neat little game which combines arcade shoot-em-up with survival-horror-style adventure and does it well – Zombies is one of the most addictive games for the SNES.


Zombies takes a 3D “top-down” view in each of it's 55 huge levels, full of details and hidden stuff to find. The graphics, despite being cartoonish and dated, are well executed, especially in the enemies, of which there are HEAPS – we're talking zombies, vampires, monsters, werewolves, Jason-like lumberjacks, creatures from the black lagoon, giant babies, Blob-monsters, evil dolls, and the rest. Each level, based on a particular theme, is full of hundreds of enemies, many that multiply as you play (e.g. zombies dig themselves out of the ground, evil dolls emerge from packages).




Playing the levels doesn't just involve destruction – the main objective is to save your neighbors, who get hacked to pieces by the monsters if you don't MOVE IT! Using a radar, it's your goal to save them all to exit the level – beginning with 10, some will die and you'll have that many less in the next level, until all of your neighbors die and you lose. Simple, but effective and often very hard -- the game is a veritable challenge for even the pro-gamer.



The music and sound is great, with nicely creepy midi tunes suiting each level, and great sound effects for each type of monster. There's an enormous selection of weapons to choose from to dispatch the monsters, including the basic water pistol (full of holy water), soda cans (with a grenade effect), a lawnmower (Dead Alive, anyone?), ancient artifacts, silverware (for killing pesky werewolves!), plates, and even a massive bazooka. The weapons have strengths and weaknesses for killing different monsters – for example, the Blob monsters can be frozen with the fire extinguisher and shattered like a plate. There are also hundreds of items to find, including door-opening keys, potions (which do a range of things, including changing you into the unstoppable Purple People Eater), speed shoes, first aid kits, and decoys (inflatable clowns which the monsters attack). Using and changing between weapons and items isn't complicated and it makes the game varied and more fun.


Perhaps the best part of the game are the little details that make it so cool to play. If you come across a door, which you don't have the key for, you can blow it open with the bazooka. The same for a hedge in the way, or a crack in the wall – there's a lot which is very destructible (Resident Evil could take a hint from Zombies). If a werewolf kills a neighbor, the neighbor will become a werewolf. Most monsters can't swim, which comes as a surprise in a later level when you're hiding in the water and are attacked by a creature from the Black Lagoon. And the boss fights are amazingly tricky – you'll play through them for a while. These are only a few of the fun details you'll notice, and the overall appeal of the game is fun. Unfortunately, with its age, it has some flaws, like an annoying password system instead of saves and the dated graphics, but it's one of the games that should definitely be ported to the Gameboy Advance, as it would make a great travel game, and an updated version would be great fun for the new consoles. If you have this one locked away somewhere with your SNES, get it out and give it another go. You'll scream for more.


- Shocka

(July 22, 2002)


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