Zombies Ate My Neighbors

Zombies Ate My Neighbors
Zombies Ate My Neighbors Cover
Platforms SNES, Genesis
Genre Hardcore Run-and-Gun
MtAMinutes to Action 0
Score 4  Clock score of 4Gameplay: 4
Fun Factor: 4
Gfx/Sound: 3
Story: 1
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Zombies Ate My Neighbors is a cult-classic barely recognized by most gamers, but much like Streets of Rage 2, ZAMN (maybe the greatest gaming acronym ever) looks like it will soon get a release on the Wii Virtual Console. This will undoubtedly expose the game to a much wider audience whose only experience with run-and-gun games is Alien Hominid. Well, hopefully they're able to appreciate this oldie enough to check out some of the other greats in the genre, such as Metal Slug, Contra, or Gunstar Heroes - all of which are available on the Wii or Xbox 360. Actually, let's hope this game appreciates the modern gamer.

Anyways, Zombies Ate My Neighbors was actually developed by Konami and published by Lucasarts (a rare pairing). It was released for the Genesis and Super Nintendo in 1993 and features two player multiplayer. I'll be taking advantage of this and playing simultaneously with my friend Hylas. Let's see how the first hour of one of the original zombie games turned out...

For the record, we are playing the Super Nintendo version of the game (I just like the Genesis cover better), so the score I assign is specifically for the SNES version, but is no doubt indicative of the Genesis version too.

Minute by Minute

(minutes are in bold)
00 - We start a new game of ZAMN! But there's a password option too (it's been a long time since I've seen a password entry option)! I pick the guy with 3D glasses, Hylas is stuck with the girl. Level 1 starts off right away: Zombie Panic.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors Character Selection

02 - We finish the first level with no problems. The objective is to rescue all your neighbors in each level. You rescue them simply by running into them. There were cheerleaders, babies, and even a fat man floating in the pool. Pretty fun so far, but very simple. Zombies went down in one shot.

03 - Time for level 2: Evening of the Undead... This level is bigger than the first, but still pretty easy. Hylas gets hit a couple of times by zombies, but nothing too bad. Once again, I nearly rescue all the helpless by myself! I also got a rocket launcher instead of a simple super soaker like gun.

07 - Level 3 is Terror in Aisle Five! This level was much harder, mostly because it features some crazy ax-wielding terror toddlers! These little kids were freaky and when you "killed" them, they turned into little fire demons! I was able to extinguish these with my fire extinguisher though. Speaking of demons, I was able to drink a potion and I turned into a huge purple monster! That was awesome.

13 - Chainsaw Hedgemaze Mayhem is the fourth level. And holy crap was this level hard! Basically you're running around a hedgemaze the whole level fighting off near invincible chainsaw wielding crazy-men! Sometimes you'd have like three of them chasing you at once, and Hylas and I found out way too late that their weakness was the fire extinguisher. We each lost at least one life, it was hard to keep track during this disaster.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors Trampoline Key

20 - We received a password! VHRV! Level 5 is Weird Kids on the Block. This level was easier, we were provided with weed whackers pretty early on that let us mow through our enemies - which were actually doppleg?ngers of the two of us! There were also a few plant enemies, but nothing too scary in this level. I also found a few health packs for myself because I've been sucking it up!

26 - Pyramid of Fear, another maze-like level, but this time with tough mummies roaming the area. A lot of the doors shut down when you pass through them, making this a difficult level. Hylas and I both end up getting killed and losing all our lives. Time to enter the password.

34 - We enter the password and start the fifth level over again. We're able to beat that stage without trouble, and grab a few health packs in the process.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors Password Entry

38 - The pyramid level again. Hylas asks me why the girl has boobs, this is not the time for such deep questions!

41 - Phew! We beat that level pretty easily this time. Knowledge of the layout helps a lot. Next level is Dr Tongue's Castle of Terror! Which didn't turn out to be too terrible. We were actually stuck for a few minutes until Hylas had the genius idea to use the fire extinguisher on the fireplace! It always comes back to the fire extinguisher...

47 - Titanic Toddler! This is actually a boss level, and the boss was a 20 foot tall baby! This toddler was tough, luckily Hylas had multiple super demon potions on hand and he whomped him almost single handedly! Awesome!

Zombies Ate My Neighbors Giant Baby

52 - We got a new password: NBGW! Level 9 is called Toxic Terrors. This level was pretty short and kind of easy. Hylas called it "sucky" though. Basically we were getting balls of goo launched at our heads the whole time which was pretty obnoxious. We saved everyone except one baby who got eaten by a goo monster. Too bad for him!

55 - Level 10 is called No Assembly Required. Geez, another insane level with the ax-throwing babies. This game is obsessed with making levels hard and maze-like. Anyways, this was our final level in the first hour. Peeking at the next level, it's called Weeds Gone Bad. I'm actually really glad we don't have to play another weed whacker level.

Now for some scores from the first hour out of 10.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors Pyramid Maze Mummy

First Hour Scores

Minutes to Action: 0

Gameplay: 4
Ugh, this game is sometimes very obnoxious to play. Zombies nearly spawn right underneath you and being limited to shooting at the typical eight angles makes fighting back difficult at times. There's a wide range of weapons which is nice (no boomstick though) and a few interesting utility objects like distraction clowns. However, this game is hard and cheap. Zombies Ate My Neighbors is a kick-in-the-pants reminder that older games are pretty tough and modern gamers are hand-held by tutorials and quick saves. At least the game features a password system. I could go on and on about the difficult levels ZAMN throws at you very early on (that frakking chainsaw level was one of the most annoying and difficult levels I've played in a long time - and that was the fourth level!), but I think you get the point by now. The gameplay score gets an extra point for featuring a radar system that shows you where the neighbors are around you.

Fun Factor: 4
The game is still fun though, but it's just mediocre fun injected with frustration. The first hour of ZAMN doesn't really do anything that cool except for the giant baby fight, which would have been pretty tough if Hylas wasn't carrying super potions though. I was really looking forward to playing this game and enjoying the first hour of it, but it never really kicked off. I really can't see myself playing this game anymore than this. Kind of disappointing.

Graphics and Sound: 3
The game looks okay. The sprites are drawn decently but there's so few of them, I'm pretty sure I saw nearly every sprite in the game in the first hour (never mind within the first 10 minutes). The sound is kind of lacking though, there's no zombie growling and the music is... lame. I honestly can't even remember a single riff from the entire hour of playing. One last note on the graphics though: the giant baby sprite was a nice surprise and looked really good.

Story: 1
The only story this game has is inherited by the title itself: Zombies Ate My Neighbors. It's a sweet and original title (ZAMN), and the game doesn't bother trying to explain why there are zombies, and why they are trying to eat your neighbors (I know it's something zombies do, so maybe that's an inappropriate question). Run-and-gun games aren't really known for epic storylines, so I'm glad ZAMN didn't bother trying. This score will have little effect on the final score.

Overall: 4
Hylas mentioned after we were done that he felt Zombies Ate My Neighbors was neither good or bad, and quickly gave it an overall score of 4. I would agree with that score (after so many more words though). No doubt when this game came out it was so original (I can't think of a zombie game that came out before it) and the gameplay was decent enough to get by (if I had my Nintendo Power collection with me I would totally look up the score they gave it). Nowadays, it just doesn't cut it. I wish I could give it a better score but the game just didn't age well in my opinion (though I consider a 4 a just below average score). Either way, I would recommend Zombies Ate My Neighbors to fans of survival horror games as the horror is more comedic, you definitely have to learn how to survive in this game! It's a great alternative to the too-serious genre these days (though from what I hear, Stubbs the Zombie sounds like fun) and I'm sure run-and-gun gamers have already eaten this one up.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors Art Zorgia Mario Gonzalez
Art by Mario González - used with permission.

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