A Look Back at Zombies Ate My Neighbors

ZAMN3

When zombies, vampires, werewolves, and other not so nice creatures attack your neighborhood, it’s up to you to save your neighbors before they can be eaten.

So I downloaded this off of the Wii just a couple weeks ago, and I couldn’t have been more excited to tear into it having not played it since the days when the Super Nintendo was the peak of gaming technology, sixteen bit boobs were racy, and kids were throwing down over which was better, Sega or Nintendo. For the record, it was Nintendo that was better. Also, fuck the Sega Genesis, Nintendo represent. I’m not sure why I bothered getting excited though. I should have known that, like anything involving the Wii, I was only headed for disappointment. I learned this lesson early on when I heard about a lightsaber game being released that would allow the player to actually act out his favorite Jedi pastime. Yes, yours truly is a huge Star Wars nerd, and ever since I got put on a watch list for trying to create my own lightsaber, apparently the government has issues with me keeping certain volatile materials in my garage, I’ve been dying to find an outlet for my lightsaber withdraw. I had hoped the Wii would allow me that outlet, and I bought the system solely because of that. Unfortunately, the Wii controls work about as well as I’d expect them to had my Wii been up smoking meth for twelve days straight, jumpy and erratic, it also stabbed me and stole my wallet but that’s beside the point. I pretty much gave up on the Wii that day, but I pull it out every so often because I’ve got Super Mario Bros. 3 on it. When I downloaded the best Mario game ever made, I added a bit too many points to the system, leaving me with enough to download a few other games should I desire, so I often scroll through to see if anything catches my eye, and that’s how I came across Zombies Ate My Neighbors. That game was one of the first zombie games I ever played and quite a big deal to a young zombie fan back in 1993. There had a been a few others before it like Ghosts and Goblins and Sweet Home, the latter of which I was never able to play as it never released in America, but Zombies Ate My Neighbors was the first that made zombies the focus. I used to spend hours playing it many moons ago. It was a favorite of mine for years, but as game technology improved, I gravitated away from the system and Zombies Ate My Neighbors became little more than a memory. Until I found it available as a download from the Wii that is. I have to say, I wish I had left it as a memory.

Just in case you’ve never had the opportunity to play it, or have somehow managed to never come across it in the internet age, Zombies Ate My Neighbors is a pretty simplistic set up. Zombies have invaded your town, and more specifically your neighborhood in case the title wasn’t explicit enough, and it’s up to you to save them all before their eaten. You take control of one of two characters, Zeke or Julie, two teens who’ve seen enough horror movies in their young lives to know just what they need to do. They’ll have an entire arsenal of weapons to aid them in taking down zombies and the creatures that are helping them spread destruction through you’re small town including vampires, werewolves, giant ants, mummies, knife throwing killer dolls, aliens, and terrifying, giant fucking babies which are freaky looking even for 1993’s video game standards, and that’s just naming a few. You’re choice of weapons is as varied as the creatures you’re trying to destroy, water guns, bazookas, soda grenades, silverware, crucifixes, fire extinguishers, and an alien ray gun. Some weapons are more general like the water gun or the bazooka while others are more specific for various creature types like silverware against werewolves and crucifixes against vampires. Along with your weapons you can find power ups like health refills, sneakers that help you run faster, and a potion that turns you into a giant, indestructible monster for a short amount of time. While fighting off the zombies and their partners you’ll have to save your friends that are just hanging around having barbeques, swimming in their pools, and practicing their cheerleading skills, not to mention the random babies that have been left unsupervised as if that would be safe normally. Run and gun your way through fifty five levels, and seven bonus levels, of suburban neighborhoods, castles, malls, and tombs as you fight your way to the end where you will face off against the person responsible for creating these monstrosities.

ZAMN2{As a kid I thought the glasses looked badass, as an adult I wonder how much eye damage they cause him}

Few things bring up my sense of nostalgia like Zombies Ate My Neighbors, but there’s a huge problem with nostalgia, it can make things seem a lot better than they really were sometimes, painting a much prettier picture in your head than the reality of said nostalgia. One thing you have to remember about things you might have loved in the past, especially in your youth, is that they can be heavily influenced by emotions we might have been feeling at the time, personal tastes, events in our lives that were shaping us into who we were, a process far from complete in our younger years, and the availability or access to different forms of amusement. All of that gets wrapped up into a big helping of opinion to become the beast know as nostalgia. It’s not always bad because it can help keep things from fading away until a new audience can find joy in it. So much in music, film, and literature would have otherwise become largely forgotten had it not been for people with a sense of nostalgia, so please don’t take my view on things to be entirely negative. I’m only trying to look at the past in the most honest way I can. Looking back on past decades and the things that occurred in said decades is nothing new. 80’s entertainment and fashion is big now, many people forgetting about the ridiculous beginning of the fashion trend that led to Hammer Pants being all the rage, but in the 90’s everyone was looking back on the 70’s with rose colored glasses. In the 70’s everyone thought the 50’s was the time to look back on fondly, thus shows like Happy Days and movies like Grease, yet everyone in the 50’s was stuck looking back on the 30’s as if that was the best time to live, Great Depression notwithstanding. I have to wonder if Ugg was sitting around his fire in the caveman times thinking to himself “Ugg remember time before wheel, things better then, kids too lazy today. Ugg dragged mammoth carcass uphill through the snow without stupid wheel.” It seems to be a human preoccupation to look back on things from an earlier time in our lives as being better than things now. This might hold true in some cases, the T-1000 was definitely better than its weaponized descendant with the power to grow bigger boobs as shown in the third Terminator flick, but often times it comes down to our own opinions. I’m not saying all progress is good progress because that most assuredly isn’t the case, but just because something is older doesn’t make it great either. Case in point, Zombies Ate My Neighbors.

ZAMN11{We’ve created a nearly unstoppable machine with this terminator}

ZAMN12{Yeah, but this one can grow boobs so you lose}

It’s definitely not a horrible game, it’s actually quite fun, but it’s far from one of the greatest zombie games. The run and gun style has been repeated dozens upon dozens of times over in much better games that added a greater level of enjoyment. Is it fun to play? Sure, but so is Battleship and Risk but I don’t remember those ever being brought up as one of the best games put out in the past. The creatures you’re constantly killing are repetitive, the neighbors you’re saving are always the same leading you to grow tired of having to always be their rescuer, and the levels don’t change much besides sometimes having a new theme. In 1993, Zombies Ate My Neighbors was an amazing game that gave zombie fans something they could love in an era when the undead weren’t nearly as popular as they are now, but in 2015 there is such an abundance of zombie filled video games that the only reason I could see in playing this would be to either see how far video games have come or to relive a time in one’s youth. There are just too many better zombie games to choose from, unless of course the Wii is the only system you have available to you, then you’re screwed.

ZAMN4{You will grow to hate saving these assholes}

ZAMN9{Zombie attacks are usually great times to bring out the barbeque}

ZAMN5{Jason with a chainsaw is not amused}

So why even bother writing an article on a game I seem to hate? Because I don’t hate it, not by a longshot. When it was released, it was not only original, but extremely creative as well. The selection of weapons you could pick from was a laugh riot and playing through the game felt like being in your very own B movie. Zombies Ate My Neighbors laid the groundwork for many of the zombie games that came after it, adding hilarity to a video game genre that wasn’t normally used to it. Most horror games of the time were all about the horror, not yet realizing the potential of making them humorous as well, but Zombies Ate My Neighbors showed that it was a match made in heaven. There was also the addition of weapons being able to affect the environment, some walls had cracks in them that you were able to destroy by smashing when you became a monster or by shooting them with your bazooka. This was also how you could get through doors if you didn’t feel like finding the keys that were scattered around the levels. It was a fun mix of horror, humor, and action that was a blast to play when it first came out, and a game that led to so many other horror games using a similar setup while improving upon the original formula that had made Zombies Ate My Neighbors what it was. They even pushed past what were almost puritanical standards at the time, a time when people had asked it the heavily pixelated Samus in Metroid, minus her space suit, was going to create a generation of sexed up teenagers that would go on rampages around the country in their quest to satisfy the desires a video game woman in a bikini had set ablaze in them. The violence being portrayed in the game was considered just too much, no matter how tongue in cheek it actually was or the fact that it showed very little. The game faced censorship regardless with the blood being taken out and the game even having to be presented as simply Zombies in several countries. Despite these changes, it still came across as an incredible game that placed you in your own film you controlled, saving your friends and neighbors from what could be a horrific end.

ZAMN1{Though repetitive at times it was still a nice assortment of creatures to kill}

ZAMN8{This baby will freak you out every time}

ZAMN6

{Turning into the monster was definitely fun}

Zombies Ate My Neighbors definitely deserves our respect for opening up a world of video game possibilities for later generations, so don’t take my opinion to seem as if I’m demeaning the game as being a piece of junk. It’s just that it deserves to be looked at honestly, as a fun game for 1993 that allowed other games to come after it, but one that’s lost a lot of its enjoyment to other, better games. It has its value, but I wouldn’t call it one of the best zombie games ever.

 

The Undead Review

 

Developer: LucasArts

Publisher: Konami and LucasArts

Platform: Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and the Wii Virtual Console

Release Year: 1993

Rotten Heads: Two and a Half Heads out of Five

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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