With an already oversaturated market, here comes yet another retro indie platformer. Was jumping on enemies' heads merely a fond memory or is it still enjoyable in this day and age? Lace up your stomping boots, we're about to find out!
In Zombie Incident, you play as Nana who must retrieve eight stars in order to revitalise a citadel that's been overrun by monsters. Controls are simple as you primarily run and jump. You can also hold the jump button to bounce off walls which frequently comes in handy during the journey. The game world is metroidvania-esque although much smaller in scale. As you explore the map one room at a time, you'll jump on monsters' heads and discover secret rooms that may contain your much sought-after stars. Enemies are colour-coded and you can only defeat ones of a certain colour depending on your level. Once you defeat a handful of the strongest ones that you're capable of beating, you'll level up and unlock the ability to defeat a new colour of monster. Gameplay mechanics don't get much simpler than this. It can actually be quite addicting after you get into the groove. That being said, tougher enemies force you to jump on their heads up to eight times before they perish. This is a nuisance since it's far more tedious than it is rewarding.
Zombie Incident looks like a long lost 8-bit game and does a fantastic job of maintaining this style throughout. Nana and all of her enemies stand out distinctly especially while playing with 3D enabled. My only complaint with the graphics is the fact that some monster colours are too similar. There are a few shades of green that are only slightly varied and two reds that look almost identical. Anyway, while the soundtrack merely consists of one retro-inspired song, it's exceptionally catchy and manages to stay fresh.
Although the entirety of Zombie Incident can easily be completed within an hour, you can see where you rank on the leaderboards after you're finished which may compel you to give it another go. You earn a decent amount of points by defeating enemies consecutively without receiving damage since you'll be rewarded with an increasing score multiplier. You're also given massive amounts of points when you level up and collect stars. It works for the most part, but the considerable amount of points that you get for levelling up and obtaining stars means that the score you end up with fits within a tier on the leaderboard. That being said, if you reach the top tier after taking out monsters efficiently enough to significantly boost your score, you may be surprised by how high you can climb.
The most irritating aspect of Zombie Incident is the enemy placement for a multitude of reasons. First, a monster can hurt you as soon as you enter a room. There's no way of avoiding this because you simply don't know what waits for you when transitioning between rooms. Next, some enemies fly directly beneath your jump height. This means that you must have perfect timing to remain unhurt when you attempt to jump on them. Finally, a few monsters are positioned directly under ceilings. As they fly back and forth, you have no choice but to watch and hope that they emerge before they automatically restore some health. After playing for a while, these tricky enemy placements will make you feel like the game is testing your patience as opposed to providing a legitimate challenge.
Near the end of the game, I came across an incredibly maddening situation. Basically, you transform into a zombie for a brief period once you get a game over. Also, the game saves when you enter a secret room. So, I stupidly entered a secret room when I was a zombie. Upon loading my save, I was in zombie form with no game over occurring. Considering I could only jump a few pixels, I was stuck and had to start over from the beginning. If you decide to play Zombie Incident, please keep this in mind and learn from my mistake.
Zombie Incident does a great job of emulating the essence of what older gamers like me grew up with. However, this also means that it includes a great deal of frustration that 8-bit games are prone to cause. If it still sounds appealing to you, then you can't go wrong by purchasing a copy, but be warned; the brief journey ahead will be full of annoying and mundane situations.
- + Simple yet potentially addicting gameplay
- + Authentic 8-bit graphics with 3D support and catchy retro music
- + Leaderboards add replay value
- - Awkwardly placed enemies are a constant source of annoyance
- - Can be completed easily within an hour
- - Tougher monsters are quite tedious