Hello, good evening and welcome to 16 Bit Memories, a look back an era where Sony made Walkmans, and the video gaming fight was between a fat Italian Plumber and a Blue Hedgehog. Where the only Master was a System and 3D was a mess of chunky polygons. It was a beautiful time, and hopefully you will join me as we travel back in time…
Now first up, you may know of me and my writings from my jabberings in the Filmic Type State, which while serving occasional reviews, mostly involves me flogging my own film work. Co-incidentally, that film work is by The Filmic Type Place who have a website, Youtube Channel and Facebook Fan Page which tells you all about the wonderful films I make that I shamelessly plug mid-article.
So yes, Geeky.ly Head, The Man They Call Trey, asked me to do this column. “But Trey,” I cried, “I have a memory like a broken sieve! I can’t remember anything about our gaming past!” He didn’t respond, instead giving me a wise, knowing look (via Google+) and laid his trust in me. Naturally, he knew what I know now: Once you remember the titles, the memories come flooding back. And the first memory I had was of Zombies Ate My Neighbours…
Released way back in January 1994, Zombies Are My Neighbours (or simply Zombies as it was known over these shores) was an isometric, run and gun adventures game which had you play as one of two characters: the 3D-glasses wearing blonde boy Zeke, or purple-clothed lady-type Julia. There was really no difference between the characters, save one had boobs and the other didn’t, but once you were in the game itself it didn’t matter. At first armed with a mere water pistol, you ran around a map, saving survivors and killing zombies until the exit door appearing allowing you to progress to the next Horror-themed level.
It was this gleefully simple premise that gave this particular gamer much joy in his youth. The simplicity wasn’t extended to the games various aspects though, as variety was the spice of life in weapons, enemies and level design. From the weak water pistol you could acquire soda can grenades (zombies HATE carbonated drinks), bazookas and weed strimmers to hack down those nasty triffids. Enemies ranged across the Horror canon, including not just the zombies of the title, but murderous dolls, mummies, a Jason rip-off and even memorably a GIANT BABY!!!
As you progressed later in the game, the aforementioned level design started giving more complex challenges. The survivors who made up your goals were locked away in rooms that needed keys, trapped between supermarket shelves where enemies were fast approaching or even hidden away in secret alcoves. And survivors weren’t the only secrets… Zombies had a metric tonne of secret levels hidden away for the more curious, including the infamous (IMO of course) one that was accessed in the very first level, but only if you had a bazooka that spawned randomly… if you were lucky.
Eventually, after all the creepy crawlies (including giant ants) and ghoulish creatures, you fought the only thing you could fight after all this: a mad scientist who turned into a giant spider. Because really what else are you going to fight? Another GIANT BABY (you do actually… and aliens…)!!!
What made Zombies such a memorable game was all the above, but also the humour and 50s B-Movie vibe that the whole game had. It was what most games need to be: fun. A sequel naturally followed named Ghoul Patrol, but was planned as a different game and felt lacking somewhat. Thankfully, Zombies is apparently available on the Wii Virtual Console, so if you get a chance, download it and enjoy it as much as I did…