PN Review: Zombie Blaster
Zombie Blaster could easily be in the running for worst video game title ever. Not only is the name as generic as they come, but it also does a disservice to this rail shooting DSiWare download, by failing to highlight its campy efforts. The game overview on Nintendo’s page, and eShop trailer (along with limited press screen shots) don’t help matters much, not really making it apparent what the game actually is.
Let me set the record straight. This is as campy a game as can be! With its mad scientist main enemy (“Doktor Terror”), amusement park settings, and fourth wall breaking characters, this game isn’t the least bit serious. And it’s this approach that manages to lift it from downloadable drek into a slightly above average offering, albeit one for fans of the genre only.
The Sega Saturn-esque polygonal graphics made the retro gamer in me smile, but they may not fly with those accustomed to more modern looking software. At least the game is fairly colorful, and the characters (though clunky) are a varied lot of monsters, mutants, clowns, etc … that’ll make you chuckle. Really the atmosphere is so campy that it made me take a glass half full approach with the games cartoonish visuals.
Audio is solid enough, if a bit mixed. The sound effects are fairly weak, with noises from the various guns and enemy squeals failing to make much of an impact. Thankfully the music fares better with some fitting, if clichéd, tracks. The over the top pieces do well in reminding you that you’re playing a campy horror game. Overall the tunes are fine for the atmosphere this game presents, complimenting it pretty well.
Being on rails, your character will move about on their own. Some may gripe with this limited control scheme, but it’s par for the course with this type of game and should be expected. The stylus control for attacking is all right, but it definitely could’ve been better. Hit detection isn’t always precise, which will lead to frustration during later levels and on higher difficulties (this made the final boss fight a particular struggle for me!) Reloading options via buttons or the d-pad (I prefer the latter) while appreciated, can also leave you prone to hit or two. The animation during this is probably one of the more visually cool things, especially with three uniques weapons, but the time spent displaying it leaves you defenseless.
One positive thing that should be mentioned is the branching paths. The starting and ending levels are the same for plot purposes, but split mid game so that each character takes a different route through the park. I appreciate this as it gives the game some replay value, and the new sections really embrace the campiness making them pretty fun. Whether I was picking off mutants from a roller coaster or ferris wheel, shooting clowns out of bumper cars, or clearing out a circus big top, it was entertaining weaving my way through the cartoony park attractions.
Some cons are attacks coming from offscreen enemies, which presents an unfair challenge. In one instance I had to wait for the camera to pan around (slowly) so I could fight back, all the while losing valuable health. The lack of much background material to destroy is disappointing also, especially since the carnival atmosphere lends itself so well to this. A missed opportunity for sure! A co-op mode is included, and while this is a good thing, it means shelling out for two copies of the game. At 500 points, this game should’ve had download play. Lastly, your health doesn’t reset between levels, and the auto saving can make continuing much more trouble than it’s worth.
The quality of this game is very sporadic, and some more attention to detail would have definitely helped in its design. Nevertheless the game still offers some goofy fun, flaws and all, because of its campy atmosphere. Rail shooters aren’t the most popular genre (evidenced by their lack on DSi) but if you’re a fan of them this game will make you grin at the very least.