Zombies Ate My Neighbors - again!!

Neighbors, everybody eats good neighbors...

If there’s one thing we all share, it’s the barely-restrained compulsion to eat our neighbours. And now, thanks to Dotemu, we can all enjoy watching the living dead once again enact our most deeply restrained impulses with Zombies Ate My Neighbors/Ghoul Patrol, both coming to modern platforms alongside yer usual game saves, museum features and achievements. Not played Zombies Ate My Neighbors? Then you, my friend, are missing out.

Basically it's a bit like Gauntlet, but with a superb B-movie ambience the whole thing. Viewed at a quasi top-down angle, run around various locations rescuing your neighbors - classical Americana, barbecuers, babies and schoolteachers. If the zombies (or wolfmen, or chainsaw-wielding maniacs, or mummies, or etc) get to them first, they die. All dead? That's game over, chum. The zombies ate your neighbors! They said they would, and they did, and you couldn't stop them.

It's not like you didn't have options. Your default weapon is a pathetic water pistol, but you can access a pretty formidable arsenal of weapons such as fire extinguishers, bazookas, silverware and a flamethrower so well-hidden that nobody used to know it was in the game. Add that to a host of keys, bonuses and items and you've got a nice, eclectic game here.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors ain't perfect, though. The lack of a real save system in the original version significantly hurt it. While there are password saves, they don't retain your collected weapons which makes starting from later levels a somewhat absurd challenge. Devs have noted that they tried to make each password point feasible from a "pistol start", but... realistically, they didn't. If you want to beat this game, play it from the start or just use the save states this new release will inevitably include.

Anyway, it's great. It really is a good game, tons to see and do, and full local multiplayer. And they've also included the sequel, Ghoul Patrol, which is... fine, but nobody really likes or cares about it. I rate the visuals and music but the gameplay is a definite step down, with a closer-up viewpoint making things that bit more frustrating. Still, consider it a bonus that comes packaged with Zombies (as the game was renamed for the PAL market).

For my usual "hot take", I feel like save states will rather spoil the fun of this game where a more considerate repackaging and more subtle adjustments would do wonders. If it were up to me, I'd add a battery save feature between levels but also make it so that the neighbors respawn on every stage and are used for scoring/100% completion rather than your complete and total death. Or even just a feature that makes the neighbors invincible so you can just treat the game like the fun, challenging obstacle course that it ultimately is.

Part of me would like to have seen spiritual follow-up Herc's Adventures as part of the package, but thematically it's not really fitting. You can go and buy it on the US PlayStation Network for PS3, though.

I don't know if this package (releasing June 29th) will include the SNES or Mega Drive versions, but it'd be nice to see a Digital Eclipse-esque amalgamation of both; the always-on radar of the Mega Drive title with the unedited stages of the SNES game. Still, even if it is just the SNES versh this'll be worth your money.