Zombies are the greatest videogame villains of all time, with the exception of those darned Nazis. Whether they are chomping some flesh or just moaning erotically, you just can’t resist killing them. Sure, they have become a bit overexposed since that little game called “Resident Evil”, but who cares? Zombies still rock. But what if the game that those crazy zombies star in isn’t that good? Then you’re left with something along the lines of Sega’s Zombie Revenge.
Zombie Revenge is a beat ‘em up game that tries hard to recapture the magic of the Final Fight and Streets of Rage era, but it ultimately falls flat. At least the plot offers up some hearty laughs. Predictably enough, in Zombie Revenge there are some zombies inexplicably trying to kill people in some generic city. When will zombies learn that their killing sprees end as soon as an important character appears? There are a few cutscenes that expand on the “plot” but the translation is horrible. At least the man who unleashes the zombies upon the city has a motive, I think. Does having a fake eye made of gold count as a motive? The absurd things some villains have to be scary…
It’s up to 3 people of an elite secret agency (are there any other kind of agencies?) to put an end to the madness once and for all! The first character is Stick Breitling. With a name like Stick it’s obvious he’s the ruggedly handsome leader of the group. Next on the list is the sultry Linda Rotta. This fine lady is extremely talented while working the pistols, so don’t underestimate her because of her massive breasts. Mmmm…massive. To round out the list is the standard badass, which is a must for every game. Rikiya Busujima is his name, and being a badass is his game. Not only does he look like Bruce Lee but he has scars all over his face, the true mark of a badass. Each character has different moves, strengths and weaknesses so playing as each one is quite a different experience, and what an experience Zombie Revenge is.
A large repertoire of moves and simple combos are at your disposal. The fighting would be decent if the controls weren’t so unresponsive. While running it seems to take a full second to bust out an attack. This is unacceptable in a fast-paced action game. Most of the combat is done with weapons rather then hands and feet. An odd assortment of weapons can be used. Sure you can use lame weapons such as shotguns or flamethrowers, but why not use a guitar case instead? The guitar case that conceals a cannon is even better. However, the weapons would be more enjoyable if you didn’t lose them before moving onto the next area. It appears that the members of an elite secret agency don’t realize that holding onto a weapon in a monster infested area is a good idea. They must not teach that at basic training with the budget cuts and all.
Two additional design flaws stick out like an oozing zombie thumb on the verge of falling off. Each time you’re hit by a monster part of your health bar turns purple. If the bar fills up you become a zombie and lose a life. It’s bad enough we have to worry about our health bar, but now we have to worry about slowly losing a life on top of all the damage we’re taking from the zombie gangbangs. I admire Sega for adding some “zombie realism” but it’s just unnecessary in this type of game. Each area is timed, so if you don’t move onto the next area quickly enough you lose a life. While having areas timed isn’t a bad idea, it isn’t executed well enough. Usually the clock is far too lenient, but every so often the clock doesn’t give you enough time and you end up losing a precious life.
For an action game, Zombie Revenge features quite a few modes. The standard version from the arcade is essentially the main mode. Next is the original mode. This is basically identical to the arcade version, but you can choose if you want to make weapons stronger then hand to hand moves and vice versa. Choosing to play through the game without weapons is also an option, but it’s for experts only. There’s also poorly implemented fighting game should amuse you and a buddy for a few rounds, but to win you just have to get the first shot in and then keep on hammering the punch button. The fun quickly stops after that. Zombie Revenge also utilizes your VMU(visual memory unit, sold separately at fine retailers!) with 2 playable games. The fishing game is amusing for a bit, but there’s another game called “zombie doubt” that didn’t make much sense. At least the two games increase the stats of the characters in the game, so there is a reason to play them, I guess.
None of these extra modes really matter because the game doesn’t stay entertaining for long. Zombie Revenge is only amusing for about 30 minutes, and that’s when you and a buddy are playing co-op. Most beat ‘em ups suffer from this eventually, but Zombie Revenge seems to suffer worse than others. It’s just the same tedious kicking and shooting throughout the game. At least the game looks pretty.
Bosses look huge and intimidating, just like they should. There’s barely a hint of slowdown, even on top of a speeding train with a huge winged beast coming after you. Stick, Linda and Bruce Lee… I mean Rikiya are all well animated, but slightly blocky. All the monsters look very detailed for a Dreamcast launch title, but the zombies are the most disgustingly gruesome. The levels look distinct, so at least that isn’t repetitive. One of the levels is “The House of the Dead.” Yes, a level based on the arcade smash. It doesn’t get much better than that. Now if only the game was worth playing up to that point
The voice acting is possibly the worst I have ever heard. Everyone sounds as if they are bored and exhausted. What makes the game unintentionally hilarious are the awkwardly translated lines that are spoken. While I could give you examples, I’d rather not spoil it. I can’t resist, so here’s my favorite; Linda says, “Are we still following this guy?” and our main man Stick then replies, “To catch him, we have to follow.” Oscar-caliber writing, for sure. It appears Sega was on a budget and forgot to dub Rikiya in English. In the instruction manual it says that his partners can understand Japanese, so he doesn’t speak English. Lame. The music tries too to sound spooky, though it just doesn’t sound instrumental enough. It sounds like one guy created the music on a computer.
Zombies are great, and so is revenge. Zombie Revenge on the other hand isn’t great. The controls aren’t responsive enough and the game isn’t fun for long. If you are in desperate need of a quick little action game I advise you not to pay more than 8 dollars for Zombie Revenge. You may pick it up for a quick play occasionally, only to realize why you stopped playing the game. Even zombies aren’t enough to save this game from depths of mediocrity. Hell, this game isn’t even quite good enough for the depths of mediocrity.
Four out of ten