Genre: Action Developer: Konami Publisher: Konami Players: 1-2 Released: 1993
Most major game publishers often release games made by outside developers in order to round out their library or simply to make some extra money while getting ready to release one of their in-house projects. Zombies Ate My Neighbors (ZAMN from now on) from Konami is one such game.
Originally developed by LucasArts, Konami picked up this title and released it for the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo amidst a glut of platformers and fighters and, at the time, it was a refreshing change of pace. Designed to be a parody of the horror and sci-fi films from the 50s to the 80s, ZAMN pits- either you alone or with a partner-against hordes of zombies, mummies, ax tossing dolls, poisonous weeds, forty foot babies and chainsaw maniacs sent out by the evil Dr. Tongue to take over the world. Not the most original plot, but then again, this is a spoof.
Armed initially with only a water gun, you must move quickly to find and save your neighbors before the monsters get to them first and send them off to their eternal reward. During the game, you’ll traverse a variety of locations such as suburban backyards, football fields, Egyptian catacombs, the local mall and even mad scientist’s castles. A handy radar gives you the location of the potential victims along with a display of how many are left to be saved. Only when the last person is saved can you progress to the next level.
One of the neat things about this game are the types of weapons you can grab. Unlike games today which allow you to pick up everything from 9mm handguns to missile launchers, ZAMN shows off its tongue in cheek nature by giving you weapons and items like, silverware, dishes, soda can grenades, a weed whacker, keys, bazookas as well as health packs.
While the levels are varied enough in locations and challenges, the gameplay becomes repetitive rather quickly. Having to go through more than fifty levels with no real variation in objectives or play mechanics becomes stale too soon.
The graphics are very colorful and detailed, but the backgrounds are rather static with very few animations. The sprites are small but move and animate smoothly and control is spot on. While the game can be played with the three button controller, I highly recommend a six button as it’s much easier to scroll through the many items you’ll pick up during the game.
The tunes in ZAMN are clear and pay homage to the spooky, over the top music found in old, scary flicks. The sound is equally impressive. Everything from the buzz of chainsaws to the shrill of victim’s screams as they’re overcome by the monsters are crisp and well done. The difficulty level is about average and shouldn’t be too tough for casual gamers. The four character password is manageable and only forces you to play through about five levels or so to advance.
The fact that ZAMN is not a Konami product is apparent. While it’s certainly not a bad game, it’s not on par with Konami’s own game franchises. Still, it is a refreshing diversion and should provide a few laughs as well as hours of gameplay.
SCORE: 8 out of 10