The Zero Hour

Reviews, rants and oddities on video game and film culture.

Zombies Ate My Neighbours

Zombies are one of the most popular characters in video games throughout history from Romero fan fiction like Dead Rising, putting the dead in Red Dead Redemption, the people who coded the ET video game, because no-one living could make something that bad and of course, the mothership of zombie games…Stubbs The Zombie in: Rebel Without A Pulse!  Zombies in games are like actual zombies, in which they constantly refuse to die, kinda like Sonic. Unlike Sonic, games with Zombies are actually, for the most part, fairly enjoyable, unless they’re in a Sonic game, which hasn’t happened yet but now that I’ve said it, Sega will make it and I will cry. But that’s besides the point, for todays game we have to go just after Sonic The Hedgehog was created and was actually quite good, back to the hazy days of 1993, where after probably watching a horror movie marathon with loads of sweets, someone at Lucasarts thought that “Let’s make a video game about horror movies…FOR KIDS!” and thus, Zombies Ate My Neighbors was born.

You’ll notice I’m using the American term Neighbor instead of Neighbour. There is very good reason for this, because I don’t actually have the game on the SNES (Renamed Zombies! In the UK) and because of my living situation I can’t download the virtual console port, so I’m playing an emulated version of the game, which is the US version with all the Chainsaw men and wrong spelling of neighbour, GOD BLESS AMERICA!

These are your two protagonists, Jedward Bravo on the left terrifies me more than any zombie.

It’s quite possible you haven’t heard of Zombies Ate My Neighbors (that quirk’s boring me now), which is understandable, it wasn’t a massive success on release. The game takes its cues from 50’s horror and sci-fi B movies with Friday The 13th and Texas Chainsaw Massacre thrown in because…well, it’s quirky isn’t it? And like the B-movies, you get what it says on the tin. If a film’s called “The thing from another world” You bet there’ll be a thing from another world, if you watch “The Claw” You expect a giant…bird that’s bigger than a battleship? You play Zombies Ate My Neighbours, you get zombies eating neighbours.  The aim of the game is to stop zombies, mummys blobs and giant toddlers (Yes, you read that right) eating/killing your neighbours by walking over them, thus saving them. There’s over 50 levels of this, so it better be fun. You play as the bastard love child of Jedward and Johnny Bravo, Zeke or…female Zeke whatever her name is and you’re given a variety of silly weapons including bolt guns, fire extingushers, crosses,  potions that turn you into Mr Hyde and Pandora’s Box to take down the various…things. That sounds familiar, I hear you cry, I wonder if Zeke has covered wars?  Well the games “kill zombies with stupid weapons” does feel like a 16 bit version of Dead Rising re-packaged for Disney audiences. And whilst it’s all good tongue in cheek fun, it loses its value a bit after a while and does become wandering round to repetitive music and cheating death.

Yes, that is a six pack of…I assume coke in the weapon slot, but then they are teenagers…

Which fittingly leads me onto its faults, although I applaud Lucasarts to give the game a very arcade style “pick up and play” encouraging you to beat high scores, It’s excruciatingly annoying to have to replay 3 levels because you died on the level before the next password save. I. HATE. PASSWORD SAVES. You have write them down on a piece of paper, which you’ll then inevitably lose. The SNES is completely capable of having saved files, why can’t you just bring those in? And I may be nitpicking, but…fuck it, I like nitpicking, there’s no indication of how many lives you have whilst in game, you have to check on the score screen AFTER you’ve completed the level, also Zeke’s death animation  is the same for all deaths, so there’s no way of telling if you have a game over until the screen gets covered in…purple goo??? WHAT? Then there’s the infinite enemies, which just get in the way constantly and cause you to spill ammo, of course the game would be easy if the level only had a set number of enemies that you kill and then you free all the villagers easily, but Getting 6 zombies trapping you in a corner is horrible, not to mention Zeke sounding like a leprechaun being castrated when he gets hurt. Of course, this adds an element of strategy to kill ones you have to kill and avoid the others to save ammo, which gives the game slightly more depth, but to be honest, it is just kill zombies and things, save the cheerleader, save the world, rinse and repeat IN A CASTLE!

This is probably the only game you can die from being hit by milk,
I wish that was a joke, I really do.

Which doesn’t make it a bad game, I liked the arcade simplicity of it and it’s really great for short sessions and the weapons you can use are reasonably good fun but I did get a bit tired of the same gameplay quite quickly and the music did annoy me considerably. There are a lot worse games you can get and I think horror movie fans, REAL horror movie fans, not the kind who feed the endless Saw and Final Destination cash cow, will quite appreciate the little nods in the enemies and the music to various horror movies, but there are a lot better games out there.



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