Looking Back is a series where we take a glance at a particular game of yesteryear, whether it be influential, under appreciated, or just simply worth remembering.
When I was younger, before I actually got my own gaming console, I remember rushing home to my friend’s house almost every day to play his dad’s SNES. That was when videogames really struck me as something that I wanted to take part of, so I got a GBC, and eventually a GBA and GC. After all those hours spent on the SNES, the one game that stood out to me the most was Zombies Ate My Neighbors. The game was developed by Lucas Arts, and published by Konami in 1993. The game has shown signs of success, and has been released on the Virtual Console (for play on your Wii) in October of 2009, to appropriately celebrate Halloween.
The game was a classic run-and-gun shooter, and utilized the classic code saving system, requiring players to enter in a code to be able to start from where they left off. The game starts off with players choosing between 2 characters, one named Zeke and the other Julie. If you didn’t already know by the title, I’m going to just answer this now. Yes, your neighbors were taken by zombies, and now its your job to save them! You then had to navigate through levels either by yourself or with other people (game included a co-op mode). The goal was standard: save the civilians, find some keys to do so, and then a door appeared for you to receive a code and move onto the next level. There was also the occasional boss battle so the action didn’t go dry. Despite having a repetitive gameplay, it was an extremely addicting game, and had me hooked. There were also some really tough levels, and I remember only truly getting to the end of the game a couple times. I found it a challenge, and still do, even with a friend. There were 48 stages in total, including many creatures such as werewolves, vampires, and even giant mutant babies. The graphics in the game were standard SNES, nothing extremely special or innovative, but it was very fun to look at. Maybe it was just Zeke’s awesome 3D glasses, or the way the zombies looked, but something about the art on the maps made me interested, and I still enjoy looking at them (sets a real nostalgic feel for me, and they are just plain cool!)
The simplicity of the game made it shine, especially with the controls. .> Being on the SNES, the controller limited players to only a few buttons, and in the long run I see that as a positive thing. It made the game appear simple, but once you got into the action you would then realize how difficult it really was. The combat involved many different weapons, varying from water guns to flame throwers, to even Pandora’s Box. A really cool item was a potion that can change Zeke or Julie into a monster. These new forms let you get through the level easier and cause more havoc, but like all good things in life, it was only temporary. The monster form that you turned into was a big, purple, muscly monster, and made the game more interesting. You had a certain amount of health (and lives), and when you lost them the traditional “game over” screen was shown and you had to enter in your code (obtained from completing each level) to continue from where you started.
The co-op was what really got me into the game at first, and it was the most memorable part of the game for me. I can remember playing Zombies Ate My Neighbors co-op for hours on end with my friend, and almost never getting bored of it. As any other co-op game, there was the screen moving difficulties (where one player wants to go another way and the other player another way, but they have to share the same screen), but you’ll find that with plenty of games. It also made the game a lot more fun when you worked as a team, because you could take on swarms of enemies at a time, instead of just a few. The multiplayer in this game was a memorable experience that I still enjoy to this day. The music in the game created an atmosphere, but with the limitations of the SNES system back then, it didn’t hurt to play without the sound (or at least we surely didn’t mind). Listening to the music present-day, my opinion still stands.
Zombies Ate My Neighbors was (and still is) a classic run-and-gun shooter that I think anyone who is a fan of SNES should play. The controls were simple but fun, the storyline was repetitive but strangely addicting and challenging, and the multiplayer experience is one of the best I’ve played on the SNES. If you ever decide to blow the dust off of your old SNES, I highly reccomend this title.