Games of Summer: Zombies Ate My Neighbors (SNES, Genesis)
There’s nothing like a good tongue-in-cheek game that knows how to celebrate culture while, at the same time, delivering an action experience for one to two players that never gets old. For that, we have to turn to a classic Konami game from 1993, a beast known as Zombies Ate My Neighbors. This game fittingly makes fun of the classic horror genre, while at the same time getting it done for item collecting and action. And it’s a perfect addition to the Games of Summer line-up.
In ZAMN (short name for Zombie, obviously), you play as Zeke and Julie, two horror fanatics who have taken it upon themselves to fight the monster invasion that has overtaken their town. As they go through a series of levels that will take them from suburban neighborhoods to football fields to ancient ruins, they’ll stock up on water guns and other ammunition as they battle vampires, werewolves, demonic babies, evil dolls (with the best laugh we’ve heard in ages- “MUHAHAHA!”) and more. The enemy diversity really changes up in this game, to the point you might not predict what’s being thrown your way next. But that’s just part of the fun.
Anyway, the main objective for ZAMN is to collect at least one surviving member from your neighborhood. Doing so manages to open up a game that will take you to the next of the game’s 48 stages. Now, the innocent folk can be instantly killed when coming into contact with an enemy, so you don’t want to leave them stranded for too long. Losing all the survivors will cost you a life in the game, along with getting killed directly by enemies (and they will strike you – these aren’t harmless stand-by creatures.)
ZAMN features some of the better top-down graphics we’ve seen out of a SNES/Genesis game, and that’s even putting into consideration the likes of Acclaim’s bloodily fun True Lies (which we’re likely to revisit in a future entry in this editorial). The levels show great change as you move along, and the enemies are a real pleasure to watch as they run around mercilessly. The music, composed by Joseph “Joe” McDermott, is a lot of fun too, especially on the SNES, with the better sound processor.
But, really, the joy from ZAMN comes from teaming up with a friend. Sure, you can run through the game and shoot everyone on your own, but when Zeke and Julie team up together in a two-player co-op session, it’s really a ton of fun. Working with your teammate to save all the innocents and wipe out enemies is a blast, and things can get hairy as you change over (temporarily) into a beast.
The original SNES/Genesis versions of the game are fun, but if you have trouble tracking down a cartridge (it is rare these days), you can do the next best thing and download the game on Nintendo’s Wii Virtual Console. For only 800 points ($8), you can check out a pixel-perfect version of the game, and still team up with a friend and kill monsters well into the night. We can’t recommend it enough.
Zombies Ate My Neighbors really did set the standard for monster-bashing games to come, and we can’t help but feel it’s a somewhat inspired predecessor to the Dead Rising games, with their tongue-in-cheek storylines and countless undead beatings…but, honestly, a new version for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network would certainly be welcomed. And, please, bring back the evil doll laugh. (“MUHAHAHA!”)
See you next time for Games of Summer!