Review: I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES!!!1

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Review: I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES!!!1

Postby yyr » Thu Sep 03, 2009 6:12 pm

James Silva is a genius.

Really.

Somewhere out there, a developer thinks a $1 product should contain a screensaver with a bunch of licensed images. Someone else thinks $1 should buy you a massager. James thinks you should actually get entertainment for that dollar, and he absolutely delivers with this...a game that probably didn't take him a heck of a lot of time to put together, but is still quite polished and full of punch for what it is.

I still have not played The Dishwasher or ZP2K9, and I was only mildly amused by ZSX4 Guitarpocalypse. But this...I was totally not expecting. I am something of a shooting game snob...hell, I'm going to be buying a Japanese 360 over the next few months because I really, really want to play Mushihime-sama Futari and Espgaluda II into the ground. There are shooting games that are bad, and those that are really bad, and those that are merely uninspired or unoriginal, but this GAEM--one that initially appears to be a complete joke to the potential buyer--actually has the GAEMplay to back itself up.

A very simplistic menu allows for up to 4 players to join the game and play simultaneously. "It's a twin stick shooter," the game tells you, and already you know how to play. The first enemies, unsurprisingly, are zombies. They are slow and walk towards you. You know what to do to them. So the barrier to entry is as low as it gets.

Power-ups appear, and they're actually quite varied and interesting. Some are more useful than others, but most are useful in at least one situation. There are missiles that clear out a small area on impact, a rapid-fire machine gun, a weapon that pretty much acts like a shotgun and is extremely useful at close range, a laser that cuts through everything in its path, and my personal favorite, the flamethrower. There are probably a couple of others I forgot as well. There is also a pickup that increases your movement speed, and one that adds an extra life. Trouble is, all of the weapon pickups have limited ammo, and the speedup enhancement wears off within a short time as well. So you can't just pick up your favorite weapon and then yawn as you blast everything into oblivion. You'll have to keep moving and collecting, otherwise once the screen starts REALLY filling with enemies, you'll be in big trouble.

Speaking of enemies, those get varied and interesting (and deadly) as well. There are fat zombies that take more damage. Then, snakes (as in, the Snake360 kind of snake. It's made up of square-shaped smiley faces and moves just like a snake in a snake game, not like an actual snake would). You'll need to hit the snakes in the head, which can get difficult as they move erratically. There are shiny, indescribable things that bounce around and can be tough to hit. There are angry faces that generally get in your way as they move around slowly...and more. They will come at you in large groups, and several types of enemies will attack you at once. And the game does not skimp on the number of these enemies; towards the end of the game, there seem to be over a hundred of them on the screen at one time.

But the most unique aspect of the game is its presentation. The background music will start playing as soon as you begin. It's a rock song, and if you listen to the opening lyrics, you will hear:
Welcome... to my gaaaaaaame.
I put zombies in it... for the paaaaaaain.
They come shuffling out... from the siiiii-eee-iiiide.
You better shoot them... or you're gonna diiiii-eee-iiiie.
(chorus)
I maaaaaaade... a gaaaaaaaame... with ZOMMMMMM-BEEEEEEEEEES IN IT!!!!

I could go on but you get the idea. Anyway, the music is part of the experience from the very beginning. During the chorus, the lyrics will actually be overlaid on the screen (in l33tsp3ak or similar). As the music progresses, the background and enemy waves will change based on what is happening in the song. The backgrounds are simple until you consider the psychedelic effects on top... they are intense at times but never totally distracting, and they go perfectly along with the song, which changes every minute or two, going from intense parts to calmer parts to intense parts and so on. As a result of all of this, the game stays fresh as it continues to introduce new elements, the difficulty scales upwards at a decent pace, and you will want to buy it when the 8-minute trial expires just to see and hear the rest. The experience is quite awesome as a whole, and the way the music and backgrounds seamlessly blend together with the action results in a unique, entertaining package that you really, really should play. This is the pure genius that I refer to regarding this GAEM.

The song is exactly 13:37 in length, and when you get to the end of it, the game ends regardless of how many lives you have. This may be jarring at first, but to be fair, it would be impossible to keep the full experience going indefinitely. When you play it, you'll understand. I think it's better to end it on a high note (or outro) than to drag it on for too long. Also, the forced time limit results in what is essentially a score-attack challenge. I've played through three times and improved on my score each time...I'm over 800K now and I'm wondering if a million is within reach. If you like to play games for score, you might play this one again and again...but even if you don't, it's just a dollar, right? And of course, don't forget that you can play with up to 3 other people. I'll definitely play this again with friends, so I'll likely get at least 1-2 hours out of it in total...and one dollar for 1-2 hours is pretty good value, especially when the experience is of high quality. This game may not have the replay value and depth of Snake360, but the presentation needs to be seen to be believed...which is not true of my prized masterpiece. I would have loved if this game had some sort of network-based or Internet-based scoreboards, but the lack thereof doesn't take away from the experience.

There's not much more I can say about it, really. If you enjoy twin-stick shooters at all and would like to see (and hear) a great presentation, you should grab this game. It's the top-rated game on Xbox LIVE Indie Games right now, and while many creators have likely sunk hundreds of hours more work into their projects than James did in this one (myself included), it's hard to argue with where it wound up. James released a unique, original, addictive, replayable, very-well-presented game with fun, quality gameplay, absolutely no learning curve or barrier for entry, and a $1 price tag. How many creators can actually claim that they've done this? Not many, and that's why I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES!!!1 stands at the top of the list. Now, go buy it.
Aaron Teplitsky
yyrGames
I hope you're having fun with them!
yyr
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