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Zombie Panic in Wonderland (Wii) artwork

Zombie Panic in Wonderland (Wii) review


If you've never had the opportunity of browsing the WiiWare's catalog, then consider yourself very, very grateful. It's really depressing how many Shovelware titles, from dart to pottery games, you need to scroll past until you find anything remotely decent. That's why something like Zombie Panic in Wonderland sticks out real easy at first glance: an alluring name, a cutesy Japanese art-style, and a premise where zombies invade a land populated by fairy tale characters. I personally got more intrigued when I found out that the predominantly Japanese aesthetics of the game were, plot twist, not created by a Japanese development team!

Akaoni Studio, a Spanish team, does such a convincing job making you believe the game is a product of Japan, with its super-deformed 3D models, simple, cutsey cutscenes, and a borderline harem-esque cast fighting against a stereotypical, flamboyant antagonist, that you're willing to give its preferred method of gameplay a chance. Using a template that some would call the Cabal shooter genre, named after the 1988 arcade game, Zombie Panic takes place in a third-person view, where your main protagonist, Momotaro (later joined by Dorothy and Snow White), is regulated to the foreground. Here, he's limited to left and right movement while tasked with shooting everything that appears on screen with the use of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combo. Oh, yeah, and by "shooting", I don't mean attacking with his sword that you visibly see in every cutscene, but a machine gun he apparently whips out from thin air.

I was kinda disappointed that Zombie Panic wasn't a run 'n gun or scrolling action title, but if Akaoni was able to fool me once, maybe the team could do it again by making something unique with this oldschool play style. Sadly, not even halfway through the Story mode's first stage, my jimmies were being rustled by a few problems. As I was mowing down zombies in a Japanese-structured neighborhood, complete with a ma-and-pa shop, a tiny delivery truck, and Daruma dolls scattered around, I noticed a completion percentage ratio at the bottom of the screen that builds as you destroy stuff. I didn't have an issue with this, but I was getting frustrated by how slow it was building up! For every one or two zombies killed and/or property damage I was causing with my gun, the percentage would only go up by one. Considering I have to get 100% to win, that means approximately 150-some targets have to be destroyed in the process.

If Zombie Panic had engaging combat to go along with the lengthy standoffs, this wouldn't be a terrible thing, but the whole structure just falls apart thanks to some of the slowest, unenthusiastic action I've seen in a game of this type. I expect this to happen in the early stages, but the pacing continues all the way to the last, even though the difficulty and number of projectiles you have to dodge double up. I never thought a game that included being assaulted by half a dozen chickens, a band of ninjas, and trees on the yellow brick road or zombie knights with green arrows, jester's throwing cakes, and swift crows at Prince Charming's castle could make me want to regret a purchase so much.

The combination of slow percentage build and leisurely action really frustrates me, because they make it so obvious that Zombie Panic has less content than its seven stages are trying to lead on, all in the name of a longer playthrough. The attempt at replay value is just as bad, since you have to beat the game's Story mode multiple times just to unlock new characters like Little Red Riding Hood that are all just for show. If Akaoni would've just removed all the needless filler that made the game artificially lengthy, then took all the actual content and modified the game design for a more earnest, compact, in-your-face experience, Zombie Panic in Wonderland might've been a decent download. If you want similar titles on the Wii Shop Channel that are better, unapologetically honest, and faster experiences, head over to the Virtual Console for either NAM-1975 or Wild Guns. Go have unfiltered fun.


pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (October 05, 2014)

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