Zombies Ate My Neighbors: It Has Risen Again

Zombies Ate My Neighbors is a run and gun game that was released for the SNES and Sega Megadrive/Genesis back in 1993.

In the game, you take control of one of two protagonists, Zeke, a 3D glasses-wearing boy, or Julie, a baseball cap-wearing girl, in order to rescue neighbors from hordes of zombies that want to eat their brains. To accomplish their mission, they have a variety of weapons that include but are not limited to; a water gun, soda can grenades, silverware and ice lollies, along with various power-ups such as health kits, clown doll decoys and potions that turn you into a big purple monster – because why not? As you traverse each level, you fight various enemies that range from the titular zombies, evil dolls, werewolves, chainsaw wielding madmen and even a giant baby – yes, a giant baby.

When this game was first released back in 1993, we got it for our SNES and even though I was only young at the time – 8 to be exact – I was hooked from the beginning. The cartoony graphics and the weird characters kept me playing. With this being a two-play co-op game, I played alongside my brother (I was always Julie…) and we did our best at fighting our way through the levels.

Each level is harder than the last, and even as early as level 4 or 5, the difficulty seemed to spike, and I just ended up dead more often than not. Even still, I loved this game. I would play often, and even though there were no save files back then and you relied on getting a passcode at certain points in the game, I would happily reply the same levels repeatedly because I enjoyed it so much.

When I rebought a SNES, Zombies was one of the first games that I knew that I had to have, and when it finally arrived, I spent hours playing. I still wasn’t great at it, but I had definitely improved since childhood – I was so happy to be playing it again.

Fast forward to today. I’ve been thinking about Zombies for a few weeks now and decided that I would write a blog about it and my love for it. When I was doing some research, however, I found out that at the end of June this year, it was re-released for the Switch and Xbox – it was supposed to be released for PS4 too, but I can’t find any trace of it, so I don’t know what happened there.

When I looked it up on the Nintendo store, I found that it was only just over £11, and it even came with its sequel, Ghoul Patrol ( I didn’t even know there was a sequel.) For that price, I wasn’t willing to hang around and bought it straight away. However, I relished the opportunity to play it on a modern console.

It took me a day or so to finally sit down and play it, but when I did, all of those memories were there once again.

Now, this re-release isn’t a remaster. Nothing has been done to the game save adapting it for the generation of consoles. The display is still 4:3, but to fill the gap at the edges of the screen, you get a border very similar to the ones that you get on any of the mini consoles. This doesn’t detract from the game – I guess it’s just there to fill up some empty space. One change, though, is that you now have the ability to save your progress on exit. This, unfortunately, doesn’t mean you can save at any time and pick up where you left off if you die. If you lose all your lives, you’re straight back to the beginning. You still have to rely on the passcodes given after certain stages. But, this – as in the original – comes with a cost as if you use a code, you start on that level with only your base water gun, so this may make some of the later levels nigh on impossible, so it’s probably easier to go back to the start.

The game is just as difficult as its original version. There are no different difficulty settings; you either play it as is or not at all. So far, I’ve only made it to the Big Baby level – you know the one I mean – but when I restart, I’m already blasting through the earlier levels quicker than I ever have. Could the difficulty of the levels have been altered? Yes. Should it have been? Absolutely not. The game is perfect the way it is, and part of that is the challenge of it.

Now onto Ghoul Patrol. This was released in 1994 only a year after Zombies for the SNES.

I’m not as familiar with this title as I am with its predecessor as I didn’t even know it existed until getting this new bundle, so I went into it with an open mind, and my first impressions weren’t great.

So, you play as the same characters as in Zombies, but they appear to be slightly older. The game’s main premise seems to be exactly the same, traverse levels, save people, and kill bad guys. There have been some new additions, though, that just don’t seem to work very well. For example, you now have the ability to jump and slide, this comes into play in some platformy bits of levels, but all just feel very clunky.

The art style is very similar to the first game, just maybe a little more cartoony; this also doesn’t really work. To me, everything seems bigger and more exaggerated and just isn’t conducive to play.

I’ll admit I’ve not given Ghoul Patrol a lot of time to impress me, and I will have to play it some more to be able to give a proper opinion on it, but first impressions do matter.

Overall this sequel feels like half an idea that was finished – so, does that make a quarter of an idea? Maybe. I don’t know. But I digress.

Zombies will always have a place in my heart, and I think it will be one that I will go back to time and time again; this probably won’t be true with its sequel.

But having said all this, getting both games for less than £12 and the ability to play it on a large flat – non CRT – screen on new hardware is well worth it. So if you were a fan of the original or if you just like the sound of it, I’d say give this re-release a go.

That’s it for now; I’m off to try and take down that damn giant baby.

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