Zombies Ate My Neighbors
Original Release Date: 1993
When it comes to videogames, there are often cycles where a certain genre is overly popular, to the point where the industry becomes oversaturated to the brim. While this has been an issue in modern gaming, with brown military shooters being overly common for several years, retro gaming wasn’t free from this problem.
In particular, the platformer was the genre that was overused. After the success of Super Mario Bros, just about every game for the NES was a platformer of some kind. And while the SNES library had a bit more variety to it, the platformer still remained a dominant genre for the console.
Fortunately, there are always some games that stand out as being especially unique. Punch-Out was that game for me for the NES, and Zombies Ate My Neighbors is that game for me for the SNES.
ZAMN is a top down run and gun game where the goal is to rescue all of the neighbors in a level before they are killed by zombies or other monsters. That doesn’t sound like much at first, but the game executes its premise incredibly well.
The controls are responsive and intuitive, and the game gives the player access to a large arsenal of weapons, all of which are fun and interesting to use. The level design is nonlinear, and there is no one clear correct path to win. All that matters is that you rescue all of the neighbors in a level, and the order in which you do so does not matter. This, coupled with levels that offer a variety of ways to approach and overcome different obstacles gives the game a large amount of replay value.
Each level is distinct and memorable, and the aesthetic and overall tone of the game is really good. Like Castlevania, it pays homage to a lot of classic horror movies. While Castlevania took itself fairly seriously, though, ZAMN approaches the horror tropes with more of a comedic edge, and does it extremely well. The game is brimming with creativity, and is utterly unique in its style and gameplay.
There are some flaws with it. It includes a lives system, which is something I’ve complained about before. However, it’s less of an issue here for two reasons. First of all, there’s a password system that mitigates the issue for the most part. And secondly, the game is mostly fair in its difficulty. It is quite a hard game, but it gives the player the tools they need to overcome the various obstacles, and gives them enough breathing room to do so, rather than killing the player in one or two hits. Another flaw is that finding that one last neighbor can sometimes be a pain as well.
On the whole, though, ZAMN is a well put together game. It’s creative, unique, and holds up really well. It’s not one of the all time classics, but it’s a very good game, and deserves to be looked at.
How well it holds up 4/4
Personal enjoyment 4/5
Overall quality 8/10
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