#253 Zombies Ate My Neighbors

Posted: 12th May 2011 by Mulholland in Games
Tags: , , , ,

53rd game played so far

Genre: Shoot ’em Up
Platform: SNES, Mega Drive
Year of Release: 1993
Developer: LucasArts
Publisher: Konami

And here’s the second of our zombie-themed game week of sorts. Zombies Ate My Neighbors, known as just ‘Zombie’ in certain more squeamish places. The premise is simple – there is a zombie invasion (well, zombies, mummies, haunted dolls, aliens, freakish plants, chainsaw murderers and more invasion), and you have to save the neighbours from being killed by them. This all made by the well-known Lucasarts, who were big in these days, although not always known for their action games.

This is one of those weird games you hear about every once in a while as being out there, but good. Is it?

Our Thoughts

So here it is, one of the games with the most insane names in the list. Zombies Ate My Neighbors just sounds weird, wacked and wild.

When you find out this game was developed by the guys at LucasArts it does make a bit of sense. You can tell from both the looks and the sense of humour. It really does fit well amongst the canon of their other games (like Maniac Mansion; which we will cover at some point). A few years ahead of the afterlife game Grim Fandango.

Where do we start? First of all; the theme of the game. You’re playing as a teen (two players supported) who has to kill zombies, mummies, chainsaw horrors, walking dolls and other such horror-themed enemies while trying to save their victims from the places they’re hiding out in. This can be gardens, houses, malls and other such familiar settings.

The interesting thing about this game is that the number of victims that you save is carried onto the next level. It means that the possible number of points in every subsequent level is dependent on our performance in the current level. After a while it can end up with you having only one victim to save since all the others have been taken out by some terrible creatures from the netherworld. Some of the victims turn up in unusual places… like why would you need to rescue a cheerleader from the courtyard of a haunted castle?

To be fair, this also adds to the strategy – do you save lots of victims, making it take longer to finish the level, or do you take less with you, running the risk they die because the enemies reach them earlier? Of course this means that the victims that are the hardest to reach are the ones which are carried over. Like in a maze level where you need to lure a chainsaw-wielding maniac to cut down the shrubbery completely surrounding a baby whilst making sure he decides not to split you down the middle or does the same to the baby.

Rather sick when you think about that. It’s worse when the baby is killed by a possessed doll holding a meat cleaver (which inexplicably sets itself alight after you shoot it). And yet the game is colourful and somewhat happy. It is somewhat helped by the retro 3D-glasses one of the main characters wear. He looks wild and somewhat out there. The sort of guy you’d imagine in a game like this, the wacky one.

An interesting thing to help you fight the hoards of nasties is a large array of weapons. Alongside the more traditional guns there are exploding six-packs, lawnmowers, bazookas and (the surprisingly effective) fire extinguishers which literally freeze your enemies. Then there is your main gun weapon – or possibly a super soaker when you look at the colour of the projectiles.

The retro nature of this game is further supported by the level names which all sound like 50s horror B-Movies (or even ones seen on this day). And in the end, it’s creepy, in a fun creepy way. Twisted, disturbing… and just fun. Kill the zombies and save the cheerleaders. What more is there to a horror B-movie anyway?

Final Thoughts

The references to existing movies are numerous and this game suits the movie genre. It’s oddly compelling, difficult but easy to learn and it feels quite possible to beat – if you didn’t have the problem that all your damage carried over and you only have ten victims to lose. Properly Nintendo-challenging in places, but doable.

Last, it’s worth noting a movie of the game has been announced for February 2011. Nothing more is known yet, but keep an eye out.

  1. […] from 1986-1990 is a rather different title which is a cross between The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Zombies Ate Our Neighbours. Unlike any of the fighting games we have encountered during this blog Splatterhouse is a […]