Zombies. A subject now stunted and oversaturated by a plethora of forms of entertainment, they are known the world over in a plenty of different forms. Some people think of them overunning malls and being destroyed by weapons so creative only Capcom could come up with them, some people think of them as enemies to shoot down in a mode for an FPS featuring celebrities, and for us Retro Gamers… we know Zombies as the menace in our neighbourhood.
Yes, now you may be surprised by the fact that we’re featuring this game in this series. We’re more surprised by the people we meet who still have yet to play this fantastic game that deserves all of the love and adoration in the world. Zombies, ZAMN, or Zombies At My Neighbors to use the American spelling is a game that most of us Retro fans the world over know. It’s filled with some fantastic character and addictive gameplay that could only be found back in the 16 bit era.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is Zombies Ate My Neighbors!
Developed by good ol’ Lucas Arts for the SNES and Megadrive. The game has a very simple premise that is communicated well in the title alone. You have to rescue your neighbours from zombies and other ghastly like creatures running wild in the area. So it’s not just zombies you’ll be dealing with, nope. It’s every manner of beast you can think of, from your run of the mill axe wielding murderers, giant spiders, and even a big baby. No, not kidding in that last one. The game has some of the best enemies ever and really cranks the dial up to 100.
Now, you’ll need to rescue 10 of your ill fated neighbours. Once you do that, a door to the next level will appear you can proceed. You can choose between two characters, a girl and a boy. The boy is just so ridiculous looking, he’s the prototypical Bart Simpson like kid and it is great. The two play exactly the same and it’s just up to personal taste on who you want to play. You get set off with a water gun filled with holy water at the start, which does beg the question of where exactly would you get that much holy water during the wake of a monster invasion, but it’s of little importance.
Because the game gives you a BUNCH of cool weapons to play around with! Everything a child should not have their hands on the game hands straight to you. Bazookas, grenades, it was all there. The best part is that these weapons are actually needed to progress through the game, as some items are trapped behind walls and things you’ll need to use some explosive power on. Thankfully the amount of weaponry at your disposal does not take away from the difficulty in the game.
Controls are great, a top down shooter experience that leaves you to explore with a fair bit of freedom. The main crux of the game is saving those neighbours, which starts out simple enough. Most encounters are straight forward, distract the thing about to kill your unknown friend and kill the thing instead. One way they showcase that things won’t be as easy as you think is in the 2nd level, where a Zombie is pretty much right in front of one of your neighbours and any hesitation will lead to their demise.
It leaves for a very exciting experience, you don’t want any of them to die! The game knows this as well, so it ramps up the difficulty later down the line and you’ll find yourself twitching your finger in every which way to try and defend the patrons of the neighbourhood from every manner of evil monster. No joking here, the difficulty will seriously ramp up but not in an unfair way, it’s one of those experiences where if you do fail, you know it isn’t the game but rather yourself, and you’ll be wanting another go.
Visuals are a knock out of the park, especially in the 16-bit era. Often you’d get games where the character models would look great, but out of place with the rest of the game. However ZAMN manages to keep a consistent art direction when it comes to the sprite work, nothing feels out of place when it comes to the palettes used and shading. The levels themselves are very well designed, both visually and in terms of gameplay. Varied as well, which is always a welcome treat.
Music is the only part where Zombies Ate My Neighbors can be a bit lacking. It’s sad because otherwise, the game manages to kick butt in every sense. The sounds effects for reference are fine, each one has a creepy feel to them fitting of the game. The music isn’t awful, but it isn’t very memorable. You’d have a hard task with looking back fondly on any particular song, you wouldn’t forget them though, as they have a tend to repeat quite a bit, so variety would have been appreciated in this instance. Overall, the game is solid apart from the tunes.
Zombies At My Neighbors is everything that was fantastic about the 16-bit era. The idea is just so much in that era and the fact that it does it very well is the best part. It’s got throwbacks that any horror movie buff would love to death, twitchy fun gameplay that you can enjoy solo, or with a friend. Overall it’s just a good game, not the next best thing since sliced bread or anything, but just a really really good game. In a day where those are getting to be quite scarce, it’s good to experience overall.
If you’ve never played this game before, do yourself a favour and go play it. Nearly everyone in the community loves this game to bits and for good reason! Bazookas, zombies, fun gameplay, the whole nine yards and you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t go out and play Zombies Ate My Neighbors right away!
Have you played Zombies Ate My Neighbors? What do you like most about the game? Let us know in the comments down below!
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