Teenage Zombies DS
Zombies are usually relegated to one role in video games: The bad guys. Hardly surprising, they’re not the friendliest of characters. But when the world is being invaded by alien brains, who better to save the day than the brain hungry living dead? It’s not any old zombies that are saving the world though; this lot are a bunch of high school drop outs who’ve dropped out in the most terminal way possible. So the future of the earth rests in the hand of a bunch of decomposing school kids, that’s encouraging…
So, that’s about it for the storyline, nice and straightforward, the gameplay too seems two dimensional, being just another old school 2D platformer, or so it seems at first. But things are a little more complex than that, as you don’t just play as just one zombie, but three different ones, all with different abilities. It’s not an original idea, being pretty much the same as the team system seen in the abysmal Sonic Heroes, but it’s a nice idea that works a lot better in this. Your three zombies you have to work with are Lefty Lopez, a basketball star in her schooldays who can jump high – but is missing an arm, Half Pipe Boyd, his former skateboarding skills a little diminished due to losing everything from the waist down, and Fins Magee, an avid swimmer in his day whose body has now fused with marine life giving him tentacles he can use to climb walls and grapple wires. You’ll have to mix and match their differing abilities to get through all the puzzles the game throws at you, but as well as their own natural (or should that be unnatural) abilities there are also specific pick ups for each character that give them additional powers.
These pick ups are all linked to each character: Lefty can pick up a rivet gun, hoover, or umbrella to use as a replacement for her missing arm, giving her a range of offensive and defensive capabilities. Fins pick ups are all keyed to his dodgy stomach, giving him the ability to vomit acid, fire or soap bubbles, and Half Pipe gets spray cans, monster wheels and a hoverboard, which allow him to take normally inaccessible routes. These pick ups are introduced one at a time as you progress through the game’s many chapters – starting off quite fittingly in the zombies home turf – The cemetery, and working your way through various locales, including a shopping mall, a fun fair and a factory, before you reach the alien brains’ invading spaceship. As you progress through it’s not just the zombies that get better powers however – the brains you fight become more powerful too. To start with all you’ll have to deal with are small floating brains that can be taken out pretty easily, but as you get closer to the brains’ mothership you’ll face laser turret brains, mind controlling brains which can control humans, telekinetic brains which throw stuff at you, four legged brains, and tank brains, so by the time you face the big brain in his spaceship he has quite a formidable army at his disposal.
As I mentioned earlier the game is laid out in chapters rather than levels, with several chapters in each different location, cemetery, shopping mall, etc. This is because of the game’s comic book presentation, which is very nicely done. The chapters themselves are nothing but check points, but when you come to the end of one of the game’s worlds you are treated to a few pages of comic before going on – this works really well and meshes well with the comic book style of the game’s graphics. In fact the game’s presentation follows the same theme throughout, with little dialogue boxes appearing throughout the levels giving you clues to some of the game’s puzzles. There’s a bit more to the game than just platforming though, on every world you’ll find a checkpoint that is represented by a DS stylus rather than a comic book page; here you’ll get a break from the platforming action in the form of a series of touch screen mini games. They’re nothing special but are reasonably varied, testing your memory as well as your reflexes, and can all also be played separately from the games main menu as well as during a play through of the games story mode. So once you’ve finished the game’s story mode, which unfortunately isn’t that long, there is a little longevity supplied by these mini games. As well as the mini games there’s also a test from the Big Brain, which is another diversion that adds a little to the game, but not too much.
All in all this is quite a fun little platformer: It’s not doing anything new or ground breaking, but what it does do it does competently. The puzzles are well designed, the team mechanic works well, and the mini games add a little variety. It’s not the toughest game in the world, which makes its length all that more disappointing, but it’s fun while it lasts and the style of the presentation really adds to this. It’s obviously aimed at a younger audience, but it’ll still provide some entertainment for the more mature gamer. Definitely worth a look if you like your 2D platformers.