Let’s play a little guessing game: I’ll rattle off a short plot description of a horror video game, and you the reader will try to come up with the title. If you have a friend around, see who can name it first. If you’re alone, just yell your guess at the computer screen and assume someone was around to hear it. Here we go!
“A cataclysmic world event caused the dead to rise again. In spite of the massive body count, a handful of survivors managed to keep themselves alive. The player takes control of a grizzled and world-weary soul, who’s only motivation is to keep breathing and try to regain some bits of his/her life before the apocalypse. While the undead could attack at any time, players will find that the real monsters are other humans.”
So, did you figure out the game I am talking about? Me neither! This brief plot intro could be one of a dozen video games on the market today. Whether it’s the living dead, humans driven insane with rage, or some sort of parasitic creature, most zombie games have fallen into a rut. Gameplay boils down to some sort of shooter with a brooding plot about managing to survive in a ruined world. This type of game isn’t necessarily bad, but it takes a little digging to find a zombie game that stands out from the crowd.
This week, I want to highlight some video games featuring the world’s favorite shambling terrors that are unique and fun to play. So let’s kick things off with Zombie Revenge.
Originally released in 1999 in arcades and for the Sega Dreamcast, Zombie Revenge was a spin-off game from the beloved House of the Dead series. Instead of the usual on-rails shooter gameplay, Zombie Revenge was a 3D beat ’em up in the vein of Final Fight or Streets of Rage. Players could select from three AMS agents (one of whom is a half-zombie martial artist) to eliminate a horde of zombies and take down the bioterrorist known as Zed. These intrepid heroes would use the brawler trifecta of punches, kicks, and expendable weapons to take down enemies and bosses in an infested city.
At the time of Zombie Revenge’s debut, my brother and I were already devoted players of House of the Dead 2. We loved the campy horror movie stylings and the interesting boss designs. To see this aesthetic brought over as a beat em’ up was pretty much our digital chocolate and peanut butter. It was so much fun using spin kicks and bare-knuckle brawling to take down zombies, and the weapons ranged from practical to just plain absurd. There was a variety of firearms (from pistols to flamethrowers), a handful of melee weapons (axes and lead pipes), and some silly bonus items. There is ghoulish fun to be had by taking a comically large power drill and boring through hordes of colorful zombies.
Fortunately, Sega made sure to port this arcade cult classic to the Dreamcast with some extra modes and options (including a VMU game of zombie fishing). Unfortunately, this game has yet to be ported to any other system. It seems like an obvious choice for a Sega Dreamcast bundle pack, but time and time again this schlocky horror game is overlooked for Sonic and his ilk. Outside of a handful of cameos in tennis and racing games, Zombie Revenge has yet to claw its way back from 1999. But if you are willing to seek out a Dreamcast (which you should), I would recommend Zombie Revenge as a must-have game for some zombie co-op fun. Just be sure to share the power drill and guitar weapons with your friend; don’t be a greedy turtle.