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Zombie Nation (NES) artwork

Zombie Nation (NES) review


"Cheesy B-quality science fiction movies apparently have their occasional videogame equivalents. Case in point: Zombie Nation, a game in which you play a leering severed head and battle American citizens who have been turned into zombies by a malevolent alien named Darc Seed. "



Cheesy B-quality science fiction movies apparently have their occasional videogame equivalents. Case in point: Zombie Nation, a game in which you play a leering severed head and battle American citizens who have been turned into zombies by a malevolent alien named Darc Seed.

The head belongs to a long-dead Samurai warrior named Namakubi, who has been stirred back to life after Darc Seed steals his sword, which is apparently the most powerful weapon in the world. Why would Darc Seed need guns, bombs or nukes when he can wield a piece of sharpened metal? Like any B-movie, the plot is precarious at best, but that’s half the fun. I also find it hilarious that Darc Seed contained his evil empire within the nation of America, and for some reason wasn’t interested in having a legion of Canadian or Mexican zombies in his army.

Unfortunately this absolutely insane story isn’t backed up by decent gameplay, otherwise Zombie Nation could easily have been a cult classic. There are only four stages, and they all play like a cross between Rampage and any of the million side-scrolling shooters out there. The head floats around shooting eyeballs straight ahead and simultaneously spewing something out of its mouth at a downward angle. Like Rampage, you can trash most of the buildings (and get points for it), which is rather puzzling since Namakubi is supposed to be trying to free America, not raze it to the ground.

Ultimately, it’s the ridiculous difficulty level that nails Zombie Nation; difficulty resulting not from a well-planned and controlled challenge, but due to thoughtlessness on the part of the developers. There are enemies and projectiles everywhere, from ground vehicles to planes and helicopters in the air, to anti-aircraft guns and missile-launchers, to annoying little people who poke out of building windows with their guns blazing. Certain dangers like lightning or fire will immediately knock off almost all of Namakubi’s life meter, and with only one life before Game Over, and a limited number of continues, this seems awfully unfair.

The graphics aren’t bad, but I was disappointed all the same by the lack of detail on Namakubi himself. He has a wonderful creepy expression, but any attempt at over-the-top grossness is defeated by the fact that he is colorless and shaded only with red. The music was very good, but in a game with so many other flaws isn’t enough of a reason to play the game in on itself.

As much as I wanted to like Zombie Nation because I admire weird and off-beat ideas like this in videogames, the gameplay is just too unforgivable. If a floating severed head had been replaced with a generic white ship firing lasers, few people would have given the game a second thought. The head is cool, but more…much more…could have been done with it.

Rating: 4/10

alecto's avatar
Community review by alecto (February 18, 2003)

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