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Zombies Ate My Neighbors (Genesis) artwork

Zombies Ate My Neighbors (Genesis) review


"I found this game randomly while searching for something interesting to play. Its sheer strangeness attracted my inquisitive mind. I didn’t realize just how odd it would be, though. If the subtle allusions to other horror icons don’t draw interest, the utter weirdness will. After all, how many games have you fighting a giant baby that squirts you with its milk bottle and squishes you flat when it stomps on you?"



So you’re walking down the road one day and notice an unusual absence of people. No cars cruise down the streets, no one’s out on a morning stroll. No dogs frolic in the yard, no children scream for attention. Then you hear a sound, a rather peculiar sound. Turning around, you see a ghastly sight. A malevolent zombie rises out of the ground and strolls toward what can be the only person left in your neighborhood. Within moments, the poor bouncing cheerleader is gone, her wispy soul rising to the heavens. Congratulations, everyone’s dead. You lose.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors (a misleading moniker; you fight more than just zombies) is a conglomeration of almost every horror idea ever invented, but unlike almost every horror idea ever invented, it refuses to take itself seriously. Weapons, victims and enemies all conspire to make the game a much more lighthearted experience than the title screen’s spooky music and magic hypno wheel suggest.

Your chosen avatar’s most versatile weapon for slaying undead hordes is not a Proton Pack nor even a boomstick, but a squirt gun. Yep. Your primary defense against zombies, evil Chuckie dolls, and mummies is water. Who knows; maybe it’s holy water.

But as you roam through the myriad of increasingly more difficult levels, you’ll discover all sorts of ordinary household objects that serve as useful weapons and items. Soda cans launched like grenades snuff out any blazing dolls and destroy Martian spacecraft. The weed whacker handily shreds pesky weeds, which deal damage as you walk over them, and also grinds minor enemies into clouds of smoke and ash. Silverware slaughters werewolves in one shot. Go figure. Fire extinguishers don’t just put out fires; they freeze monsters in their path, and even make them more vulnerable to standard attacks while frozen.

You do get a bazooka, though. It can smash damaged walls, hedges, and doors as well as annihilate just about any foe in one shot. That’s… sort of traditional armament, right?

The trick to Zombies is speed, orientation and strategy. You must move quickly to rescue all ten curiously stationary hostages per level. You must also learn the layout to the best of your ability, perhaps trying several times to get it right in order. Sometimes order is critical. When faced with tourist couples that transform into werewolves after a minimal time limit, you need that sense of direction. And lastly, you must strategize as you play. Conserving rarer weapons and first aid kits for later use can prove crucial to survival in later stages, especially against boss fights.

All three of these elements come together in the difficult hedge maze levels. Chased by chainsaw-wielding maniacs strangely reminiscent of something from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, you must save your ten victims (less if any died in previous stages), you’ll have to think quickly. They can cut through the hedges to reach victims (and you) with ease, so you’ll have to outsmart them by playing to the AI’s inherent stupidity. Fleeing back-and-forth from one path to another will confuse them as to which way you’re trying to go, and sometimes they’ll get stuck on walls and other in-game obstacles, giving you precious seconds to build a lead over them. If you have a store of decent weaponry, you can try killing them, but their sheer volume of health makes them immune to almost anything except bazooka blasts. But try hard enough, and you’ll even get extra bonus points at the end, which may contribute towards an extra victim awarded (if you have less than ten), or an extra life.

It pays to collect the extras in a level as long as you’re mindful of your victims in the process. Some bonus pickups lead to secret levels where even more quirkiness ensues. Some are designed to just giveaway easy hostage rescues (free of monsters!), while others are “Easter eggs”. The incredibly hard to access first level bonus, for example, aptly named “Day of the Tentacle”, is a spoof of the game made some time earlier by the same developer.

It’s the little things like this that keep the game from getting boring, despite the fact that you’re doing essentially the same thing over and over again. The introduction of new horror stereotypes lends itself to thought on what could be targeted next (there must be some reason why jelly blobs are immune to just about everything except Popsicles). Often there will be objection completion bonuses, such as slaying all the vampires in a level (hard to do), or passing pigskins to random American football players while simultaneously trying to rescue a gaggle of cheerleaders from crazed cheer-deprived Martians.

Difficulty increases as these stronger villains become more prominent, and level design becomes more hazardous and tricky. Squidmen are the only amphibious monster; their appearance in several stages means those fatass pool guys are no longer safe lounging in the water. New hazards such as spikes, deadly weeds, electrical barriers, and disorienting collapsing walls add to the risk, threatening to take the lives of those you vowed to protect.

Yet should you manage to pass all 55 levels successfully, you’ll face off against the mastermind of the whole affair, the mad scientist Dr. Tongue. Defeat this diabolical fiend, and you’ll be rewarded with one of the coolest credit sequences you’ll ever see in a video game.

Because it’s not really a credit sequence. It’s a whole new credit level. A whole stage set aside just for discovering the various programmers, producers and designers. But it’s more than that. You also have to rescue hostages again, dodge and destroy monsters again, and even fight a boss that appears midway through. I’d swear it’s the head of one of the animators. He spits at you.

I found this game randomly while searching for something interesting to play. Its sheer strangeness attracted my inquisitive mind. I didn’t realize just how odd it would be, though. If the subtle allusions to other horror icons don’t draw interest, the utter weirdness will. After all, how many games have you fighting a giant baby that squirts you with its milk bottle and squishes you flat when it stomps on you?

Rating: 8/10

wolfqueen001's avatar
Community review by wolfqueen001 (March 21, 2009)

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EmP posted March 22, 2009:

You get some kudos for even knowing what a boomstick is. Somehow, the idea of you watching horror films amuses me greatly.

Anyway, this is a decent review; a little clusmy at times, but it gets its point across clearly and is fun to read. Good job, you!
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wolfqueen001 posted March 22, 2009:

I watch gory films. I've seen Gladiator! =D

Anyway, thanks again. I think I fixed everything you pointed out earlier, so I guess it's a little less clumsy now, I hope. I feel a bit better about the whole thing after doing that, but I still wish I could've made this one pure unadulterated awesome, but that's alright. I blame stress.

Haha. Funny story: I haven't seen an Evil Dead movie in at least two years. XD
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randxian posted March 29, 2009:

Heh, I've played the SNES version via emulator.

My only problem with the review is it seems to focus more on tips and tricks than actual opinions.

Other than that, reading this does give one a good feel for what the game is like.

Maybe you should write a FAQ for this game?
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wolfqueen001 posted March 29, 2009:

Heh. Thanks. You'll have to elaborate on the "opinions" thing, though, since I tend to prefer to tell people how I liked the game through the writing itself... instead of just saying "lol I liked / hated the game" directly. Granted, I know that with this review, the wriing itself was probably less expressive in that regard... and I didn't use any personal experience or anythinig, which I guess is where my opinion on the game actually comes from.

Anyway, hell no. I am NOT writing a FAQ for this game. No. Hahaha. That's way too much work... and the game can be played in so many different ways, really, there's no "Just one" right way.

Besides, Gamefaqs has a really awesome walkthrough already (as well as other lesser ones).

Honestly, I'm not too happy with this review anyway.
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randxian posted March 29, 2009:

Heh. Thanks. You'll have to elaborate on the "opinions" thing, though, since I tend to prefer to tell people how I liked the game through the writing itself... instead of just saying "lol I liked / hated the game" directly

Okay, I suppose that does make sense. I know from personal experience, that sometimes it is harder to write reviews for games you like since you have to walk that fine line from simply describing the game to inserting opinions. It just seems so much easier to point out glaring flaws.

I still think it is a good review. It is descriptive enough to give someone who has never played the game before an idea of what the game itself is like. If nothing else, I'm glad you spend most of the time talking about the actual GAME PLAY. I get really, REALLY irritated when reviewers spend most of the review talking about graphics, storyline, and music, and just BARELY cover game play itself. I just felt at certain junctures, it teeters between description/opinions and tips/tactics.

Just my two cents though.
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wolfqueen001 posted March 30, 2009:

Well, that point applies to games you don't like, too, really since you'd theoretically have to describe the game and insert opinions on why you hate it, where it might be easier to focus on the positives.

But yeah, I get your point. Anyway, with my writing, I just... write, I guess. I try to make the game sound fun (or awful) depending on how I feel about it, as well as give the relevant essentials. I dunno. My process is kind of complicated. I guess if I could summarize it, I'd say that I just try to tell people what I think is important, and try to do that in an interesting and useful manner.

Really, you could argue that everyone has an opinion regardless of how they express it because, well, you wouldn't be reviewing if you didn't. Like... it's really hard not to be biased about a game, and that's why you write about it the way you do.

I get really, REALLY irritated when reviewers spend most of the review talking about graphics, storyline, and music, and just BARELY cover game play itself.

That's an interesting point. However, I honestly think that what's included in the game depends on the game. For example, if the game is heavily story-based, where the game play is pretty simple (like with an RPG), then there's less need to describe it. I think that point is more appropriate for the graphics/sound/music thing, though... Because to me, unless those things are particularly outstanding, I won't even mention them. And reading that thing in other reviews all the time (especially by the same reviewer) just feels like it's forced in there to account for everything there is.

Still, with the more major ones like story / game play, etc depending on the game, you can review it without mentioning one thing or another if one of these things is particularly strong and the thing that makes the game stand out.

Anyway, thanks for the comments (and discussion). Just out of curiosity, have you reviewed elsewhere before? You're new to this site, I can see, but you seem like you've come from somewhere else since you seem to know what you like and don't like with some conviction.
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randxian posted March 30, 2009:

Ironically, the stuff that irritates me from reviews tends to apply toward "professional" reviews. (Heh. Yeah right.) A good deal of them spend gobs and gobs of time going on and on about how the game looks.

That's why I prefer reviews from casual fans. They tend to do a better job. Don't get me wrong; I like good graphics, but I don't want 90% of the review talking about it.

Actually, I did submit some reviews to this site a long, long time ago. I didn't realize this site still existed until recently. I think people take reviews here more serioulsy than GameFAQs, so I decided to start submitting here again.

But yeah, I have reviewed for various NES sites, GameFAQs, and a few here.
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honestgamer posted March 30, 2009:

Actually, I did submit some reviews to this site a long, long time ago. I didn't realize this site still existed until recently. I think people take reviews here more serioulsy than GameFAQs, so I decided to start submitting here again.

Yeah, I was thinking that your name looked familiar to me. I'm glad that you found us again and I hope that we'll continue to see you around here more often. We definitely are more serious about reviewing here than the typical GameFAQs user--by far--but because of that there are fewer of us and we can use all of the productive regulars that we can get!
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randxian posted March 30, 2009:

Yeah, I was thinking that your name looked familiar to me.

Just remember, I'm the guy who really got the pot stirred because of my Zelda: Wind Waker review. :D

But in all seriousness, I plan on perfecting my craft here some more. I found myself getting lax with submitting reviews on GameFAQs.

I'll probably do One Piece: Pirates Carnival next, which I also submited to GameFAQs. However, I'm going to completely rewrite it for this site, since my other one isn't all that great.

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