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The neighbors are just dying to meet you! Hey, where's that scary music coming from? Yikes! It's Zombies Ate My Neighbors, where you appear as a wholesome teenage star trying to save your nice neighbors from a fate worse than polyester!
Top Customer Reviews
The differences between the Genesis and SNES versions aren't exactly minute, but they're not huge either. Whichever version you pick up, you'll be playing the same game for all intents and purposes. The Genesis version is visually less refined, and the screen is a hair smaller, yet the map always being on screen in the Genesis version is something I personally prefer. I also prefer using the Genesis 6-button controller with this game. If you're picking this up, definitely invest in a 6-button controller to go with it. It makes the game play much smoother, and the D-pad is better for traversing the 3/4 perspective.
The game starts out in a level that lives up to the title. Choosing to either play as Zeke or Julie, you're dropped in an all-American backyard, complete with your neighbors grilling out, swimming in their pools, and the-girl-next-door cheerleader. The only problem is, zombies are trying to eat these neighbors, and armed with your Uzi squirt gun and your wits, it's up to you to save your neighbors from these macabre monsters.
Throughout the game, you'll pick up different items and weapons, appropriately assigned to two different slots. You can toggle between all of your items and weapons with a simple button press, which is welcome, as there are a lot of things to pick up in this game. From rocket launchers, to soda can grenades, silverware, health kits, keys, etc., the item/weapon list is extensive, and this is where the root of the gameplay comes from. It's up to you to figure out how to conserve some of these items and your ammunition, all the while running at a breakneck pace to salvage what neighbors you have left from the undead hordes.
Zombies will be the least of your worries, though. Throughout your adventure, you'll run into mummies, werewolves, vampires, giant sandworms, spiders, blob monsters, aliens, giant babies, and chainsaw wielding maniacs, just to name a few. All of these enemies have certain weaknesses that's appropriate to the lore that's been established for them, such as the werewolves being weak against silverware, and vampires being weak against a cross. This system works well, and makes for a game that's far more about running away from enemies to go item hunting than it is confronting them, which fits really well into the horror aesthetic.
This isn't to say you won't be fighting enemies, though. At the beginning of the first level, you're given 10 neighbors to save. Save all of them, and you'll have 10 neighbors in the next level to save. Lose one, you'll have 9 in the next level. So on and so forth. Given that these neighbors will die in one hit from any monster, its imperative to either kill whatever monster is running straight for them, or simply running to the neighbor as quickly as possible. Once you lose all 10 neighbors, it's game over. Alternatively, once you lose the 3 lives you start with, it's game over, though there are hidden 1-ups to collect throughout your trek. In between every 4 levels, you're given a password to continue with. When you start with the password, however, you begin the game with only your bare essential items, and you're forced to restock. This makes dying consequential, but not infuriating. Trust me, this game is extremely hard, but it's always compelling. Considering your only goal in every level is to save your neighbors (as opposed to killing all the enemies), every level is beatable (sans for some boss levels) without taking a single enemy out.
This allows for a dynamic experience, and if it weren't dynamic enough, certain item pickups are randomized, increasing the replay value of this title through the roof. Every design philosophy implemented into this game compliments an opposing one perfectly, and that's what makes this such a well developed title. If you take the horror aesthetic and clear film references out of this game, you'd still be left with a game that plays just as well without it. It's awesome that the horror stuff is there, though, as it makes for an interesting game with awesome enemies, weapons, and given the speed you're constantly running at, a very frantic experience, in the best way possible.
It's also worth noting that the soundtrack here is incredible. Including digitized approximations of instruments like the theremin as a send-up to schlocky 50s B-movie scores, the soundtrack compliments the visuals, The sound effects of weapons are all very satisfying from a player standpoint, and the added touches like your character screaming "Ow!" when they take damage make this a wonderful sounding game, regardless of which console you're playing it on. The tone is still present in either version, and the soundtrack helps to make up a lot of this game's campy atmosphere.
All in all, Zombies Ate My Neighbors is a great looking, sounding, and playing 16-bit gem. Everything included in its design just makes sense. The frantic pace, plethora of items/weapons, and the general feeling of pure fright when running away from an enemy to search for a health kit before losing your last life make this an extremely memorable, extremely fun experience that everyone should try out. Simply put, this is one of the best games from its generation. Add onto it a well implemented 2-player mode that's as cooperative as it is competitive, and you've got yourself an instant classic. Like I said, it has a relatively huge cult following for a reason, and I can't recommend it enough. Given its price tag on Genesis, even for a boxed copy, you'd be doing yourself a disservice by passing this one up. It's hard to ask for a better experience out of two consoles that are over 20 years old at this point. This is an absolutely fantastic game.