They already had us all with the name, didn’t they really?! Gamers love aliens, and they love zombies, so put the two of them together and, well, it’s almost indecent the amount of love in the room. That said, if the game had turned out to be a load of rubbish, the disappointment would have been so much greater. Thankfully, PomPom Games didn’t let us down.
From the moment you load up and start playing Alien Zombie Death, you can’t help but have a big fat smile on your face at the crazy alien zombies and the tongue-in-cheek humor of the whole thing. Even the How to Play help pages fit in with the generally silly style, describing the game’s hero as “a lone Spaceman doing something or other on a mining platform floating around a random planet.”
To get started zapping alien zombies, there are seven planets that you can select from the main menu, each with a moon, making 14 levels in total. You unlock the planets and moons by earning medals, which are awarded for killing aliens, collecting coins, and getting high scores.
Select an unlocked planet or moon icon on the main menu to see your best score on that level so far, as well as icons indicating what you have to achieve to get medals, such as 5 of a certain type of alien. If you select a locked planet or moon, you’ll simply see how many medals are required to unlock it.
The gameplay is dead simple – run and jump your way around the series of platforms, shooting lots of different types of alien zombies, avoiding hazards such as energy beams, and collecting coins and other pick-ups.
You have to be very quick and alert at all times, with the aliens being quite agile for zombies, especially the flying ones, as they relentlessly come after you, but the controls make it very easy for you to run and jump about and shoot at the same time.
To run left and right, use the left and right directional buttons. Press the up directional button or Triangle to jump from platform to platform, and down or X to jump down. To fire left, press Square, and press Circle to fire right. If you’re facing the other way, you’ll instantly spin round and starting firing.
There are five different types of pick-ups, the best of which is probably the 3-Way beam that takes out alien zombies above and below you. After that you have the Laser, Missile, Points Coins and Health, all of which are pretty self-explanatory! You have just three lives, and they certainly go quickly if you’re not careful! You basically just keep going until you lose all your lives and then start all over again.
Although the overall look and feel of the game is very simple, it’s all very well done and beautifully designed. Each new planet and moon, although very basic, has a distinctly different look, and each new world and moon has different alien zombies populating it – big, boss-like ones, small shuffling green ones, flying ones, the variety is impressive and keeps the gameplay interesting.
As basic as the gameplay is, it’s also really challenging, very old school, and a whole lot of fun. I love all the little touches, like mad sound effects and the crazy alien zombie faces. There are even little guide icons at the side of the screen to show you where the clusters of aliens are lurking just out of sight, or where the pick-ups are.
As far as value-for-money is concerned, it’s true that it won’t take you that long to earn enough medals to unlock all the planets and moons, but it will take you considerably longer to get all the medals, so you’ll be going back to the game time and again, especially as its such a lot of fun to play.
There is, however, one major flaw, and that’s the fact that my copy crashed several times on going back to the main menu. Looking in our forum, this has also happened to forum members too, so I know it’s not just me! Something PomPom Games needs to sort out quickly and maybe offer a patch?
That one issue aside though, Alien Zombie Death definitely has many of the things we want in our minis – deceptively simple, yet well-thought-out design, combined with rock-solid gameplay and enough longevity and variety to make it worth spending our cash on and devoting our time to.