Gamer Cult Classic/Critically Tragic Zombie Revenge for SEGA Dreamcast
The critics hated it, but gamers loved it. That’s a rare story, to be sure, but it does happen.
While the Dreamcast is widely known for producing some instant classics, not all of those classics were critical hits upon release. SEGA’s ill-fated Dreamcast console is widely regarded today as one of SEGA’s best efforts, second only to the Genesis/Master System.
SEGA’s console swansong was not the commercial success the company had hoped but in the end the machine produced a stable of top-notch games that have gone on to become canon classics as well as cult collectables.
Then, just as now, video game critics tended to be harsh on games, and Zombie Revenge was no exception. Inspired by the same muse that birthed Resident Evil, Zombie Revenge for SEGA Dreamcast was a critical failure, panned upon release for having many of the features that make the Playstation-born Resident Evil so iconic: campy horror, horrible voice acting, zombies galore, and addictive, tank like gameplay that sees the player slaughtering hordes of shambling, malevolent undead.
Developed by SEGA for the arcade, and originally as a spin off of SEGA’s wildly popular House of the Dead light gun arcade game, Zombie Revenge is ostensibly a beat ‘em up with survival horror elements.
Players can choose between one of four player characters and then must set out to rid the city of the zombie onslaught using whatever weapons they can find at hand, including their feet, fists, guns, and other items.
Panned by critics but beloved by gamers, Zombie Revenge takes the best elements of the House of the Dead series, with many overt nods to the mainline games, and combines it with some of the more addictive, action-heavy elements found in games like Final Fight or Streets of Rage.
While that may sound an odd combination at first, remember Final Fight tasks the player with defeating the world’s largest biker gang and Streets of Rage features a hero capable of summoning a mobile air strike – ridiculous is par for the course here, and Zombie Revenge is no slouch in that department.
In fact, the ridiculous and ludicrous nature of the game may be what turned critics off initially, and what has solidified its position as a cult classic among gamers.
Many gamers cited the same complaints critics had, the game’s absurdity, its shallow gameplay, lack of a coherent story, and grating voice acting as reasons the game should be immortalized. Currently Meta Critic’s critical reviews have the game at 60 while gamers assign it an 8.8, calling it a “great game” and “fun times, can’t stop laughing.” The pick-up-and-go nature of the gameplay seems to be its biggest selling point, with the absolutely inane storyline acting as icing on the cake.
The voice acting, while abysmal, is standard for the era.
The graphics are a little all over the place but you have to give them credit for attempting to render the environments entirely in 3D, completely eschewing the pre-rendered images that were used in Resident Evil games.
If you’re a fan of campy horror or intense (though inane) action games, Zombie Revenge is the title you’re looking for if you have a classic Dreamcast sitting around.