The Ninjabot

Retro Review: Zombies Ate My Neighbors

Posted on September 22, 2012 at 4:32 pm by Stephen Janes

Zombies Ate My Neighbors wasn’t financially successful, but you’d be hard pressed to find anybody who didn’t enjoy the game regardless.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors is a simple, yet effective run and gun style of game where you are required to hold back the zombie onslaught and save as many of your neighbors as you can. Often classified as a cult classic for the Super Nintendo (and ported to the Sega Genesis), Zombies Ate My Neighbors has received high praise for its polish and fun factor and still holds up as a great game today.

In addition to the titular zombies, you will face off against vampires, werewolves, aliens, clones, evil plants and giant demon babies. Yes, you actually have to fight a giant baby that shoots milk at you. I cannot make this up.

Zombies. Everywhere I look, there are Zombies.

There are various weapons and each one with a different purpose. You start off with nothing more than a water gun filled with holy water, but you will also come across a fire extinguisher that freezes enemies, a weed whacker that’s great for ‘mowing’ down enemies (see what I did there), a bazooka that can also destroy walls and barriers, and Pandora’s box which destroys everything on screen. Each weapon will have an ideal situation in which it is more effective than others and adds a strategy element to the game. For instance, the bazooka is the strongest projectile weapon in the game (minus Pandora’s Box and the Flamethrower), but it can also be used to break down walls and some locked doors, but ammo is also very rare to find.

In addition to your arsenal, you have an inventory of support items that can have different effects on your character. Health packs, keys, speed boosts and pop-up clowns that distract your enemy are among the more common items you can find, but I believe the best is the ‘questionable potion.’ Holding the appearance of a science beaker with a question mark, it has the ability to transform you into a purple behemoth that can destroy near-everything with a single punch. Many times I was able to escape a tough situation just by using this potion and annihilating everything in my path.

We’re in the middle of the zombie apocalypse and you want to shove an ‘F’ in my face? I think I’ll just leave you here, I got an ‘F’ for you, too, lady.

Each level requires you to save a certain number of your neighbors before you can advance. Your neighbors will simply be standing around in the worst places, sometimes totally oblivious of the impending doom that surrounds them. If you are unable to get to the neighbors in time, a zombie (or another enemy) will walk to the neighbor and kill them, leaving behind a screaming soul for you to think about. What makes me uneasy (and surprised it was never censored) is how there are infants walking around some levels, and they are just as vulnerable to death as the adults. I suppose the teacher holding a giant ‘F-’ grade and the lack of emotion I feel when she gets eaten offsets this remorse.

This game can and will take up a large portion of your day, no question. There are over forty levels and seven bonus levels, so there is no shortage of gameplay here. Each level has a different theme or location, each with a unique element that you have to traverse. The shopping malls have display windows, which hold useful items, the pyramids have magic walls that close behind you and backyards have evil plants that grow killer grass or weeds or something. It’s a fun and refreshing change of pace that keeps you guessing and prevents the run and gun style from getting old.

It’s nice to see somebody is making the best of a dire situation, but I don’t get why he’s in a pool of sledge and enjoying it.

Co-op is ridiculously entertaining. Joining forces with a friend has never felt more satisfying as you shoot your way through the zombie line. It’s somewhat disturbing, however, how many times my co-op partner would leave me cornered by a zombie horde only so they could pick up the weapon upgrades and save a few neighbors in the process. Granted, the two of you share the screen so it’s not like they can walk around the entire level, but I was not happy becoming zombie fodder while my partner was carrying out their own agenda.

The controls are tight and responsive, just as they need to be. I played this game for a few hours and never once caught myself blaming the controls for failing. This is how games should be made. The most difficult challenge should be the enemies and the puzzles in front of you, not the controller in your hands. It’s refreshing to find an old game with great controls. I will admit that I did die a few times when I entered panic mode and pressed the wrong button, but that is classified as a user error, or as my father used to explain to me, “an eye-dee-ten-tee” problem. Sound it out.

When you collect a certain number of survivors in each level, an exit door appears from nowhere and ends the level upon entering.

The soundtrack on this game is fantastic. It’s eerie, it’s cheery, it’s fun and spooky and it’s not the Addams Family. It can be repetitive since the tracks are just endless loops, but you never hear the same song two levels in a row, which is nice. One element that is a little weird is that there are several zombie grunts and moans that can be heard on the soundtrack. Basically, it’s as if the ambience noise is one with the actual background music, so be prepared to hear a zombie, but not see a zombie.

It had been a while since I played Zombie’s Ate My Neighbors and the game is just as fun as I remember. This is a game that is easy to pickup but difficult to put down. It’s fun, it’s simple, it’s addicting and you can play with a friend. Needless to say, this game is great and should be in everybody’s game archive. You can find this game on the Wii Virtual Console if you don’t own it on the Super Nintendo already.

Retro Rating: 4/5 

In short: The gameplay is simple yet fun, and you get to shoot zombies (and other creatures) all day. That should be all you need to know. Also, I have included a video which contains gameplay footage and some commentary about Zombies Ate My Neighbors, so watch below and enjoy. These videos will help provide a better understanding of what the game is like, clarity on many subjects that I touched up on in this review as well as mention a few things that I didn’t write about. Thanks for reading and watching my review of Zombies Ate My Neighbors.


You can follow Stephen on Twitter @stephenkjanes

    • Very nice review as always. The giant baby is terrifying!!!!

    • Especially when you run out of ammunition and have nothing left to do but let the inevitable come…

    • It was great to see a piece of writing on this topic.Many thanks and keep it up.

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