It wasn't the game mechanics or story that first piqued my interest in Teenage Zombies: Invasion of the Alien Brain Thingys, it was that really neat art style, the art style epitomized by the game's box cover. I loved the way it looked, something about its blend of comic style and malevolent silhouettes intrigued me. I figured that if nothing else, the game would be fun to look at, if not play. Heck, it's a Zombie side-scroller for the DS and there are brains. What could go wrong?
Hit the jump to find out.
Comic Book Cut Scenes: Adding to the fun look of the game is that the game present cut scenes in comic book panels, even making you turn your DS sideway to read through them. It's the type of really nice touch that I wish was seen throughout the title.
Art Design: One of the first things that attracted me to Teenage Zombies was it's interesting art design and while it doesn't quite live up to that amazing concept art, it still offers a neat look for a DS title.
Fun Health Boosts: Instead of dishing out hearts or some other hackneyed health pack, Zombies regain health by eating their fallen brain opponents. They also score a mega health bonus by finding the body parts of a zombie and then reassembling them in a timed mini-game that using your stylus.
Repetitive Level Design: While the game has an interesting approach to level design, featuring maps that wrap around one another, I was pretty much over them about half way through the game. There's not a whole lot of new concepts introduced to the game after you've played it for a few hours.
Limited Abilities: The game's three zombies, which you can hot-swap during gameplay, each have one special ability and a handful of items they can find to do different things, but it's not enough to sustain the game over it's 30-plus levels. It feels like you've exhausted the game's bag of tricks soon after you've started.
Odd Save System: Saves in the game aren't always automatic, instead you'll sometimes have to find books lying about to save your position in a world. What makes this frustrating is that that's not always the case, so it's easy early on to expect an auto-save and not get one.
Wonky Controls: The game's mechanic, which really just features to buttons and the D-pad, are a little wonky when it comes to precision. For instance it can be hard to use Lefty's stretchy arm to grab a ledge and activating a button can at times be hit or miss. When this leads to a death it's beyond annoying.
Not Much Substance: The game could have used a bit more substance, in the way of plot, enemies, characters, special abilities, something to give it a bit more life. Sure it has a collection of mini-games, but they're not all that fun and the sense of humor didn't quite work for me, though I'm sure some will love it.
Teenage Zombies is a pretty straight forward scroller with a twist. It's got plenty of spirit and tries to do something different, but in the end I found the game more of a task to play through than a joy.
Teenage Zombies should find an audience among fans of 50s-esque Zombie parodies, I just don't fall into that group. What the game had to offer delivered about an hour of fun game play, everything after that felt like a chore.
Teenage Zombies: Invasion of the Alien Brain Thingys! was developed by InLight Entertainment and released on April 17 in the US for $US 30. Available on DS. Completed single player mode on Normal difficulty.