Our Weekly Spotlight game this week is a bit of a different approach. It brings you back to that old late 80s, early 90s arcade feeling from games like Double Dragon, TMNT: Turtles in Time and X-Men. It is developed by Quaternion and EnjoyUp Games, and it’s called Rock Zombie – $7.99. It was first released back in December 2015 and is available on the Xbox Store now.
If you’ve ever wanted to know what would happen if a bunch of zombies invaded a concert for a band compromised of the female, punk rocker witches, then Rock Zombie is for you. Zoe, Sasha, and Crystal are three witches that moonlight as members of an all-female rock band. I know, right? During one of their shows, a mysterious green smoke is emitted into the atmosphere which causes the entire audience to be morphed into zombies. In order to survive, the girls need to use their magic guitars (remember, they’re witches) and magic spells in order to locate the source of the green smoke and eliminate it. While fighting, you progress through 20 levels with bosses scattered throughout. There are two different types of attacks; magic and melee. The melee is divided into two separate horizontal and vertical slices. The horizontal is side to side, “get away from me” type shots. The verticals are for directly in front enemies or for crawling zombies. As far as the magic is concerned, all three of the girls use the same attacks. You can choose from Magic Ball, Magic Thunder, and Magic Rain. You can earn magic power by using melee attacks to charge up your meter.
Each zombie you fight will determine the attack you will need to use. Figuring out the appropriate attack for any one of the six individual zombies is easy. You have a mix of dog zombies (yup, dogs), exploding fire zombies, acid spitting zombies, and zombies that walk, run and crawl. A bad thing about Rock Zombie is there is absolutely no weapons or powerups for your attacks. In games of its type in the old arcades like Turtles in Time, at least you were able to hit garbage cans or street parking meters into enemies. In Rock Zombie, there is nothing extra you can use in the game what so ever. Of course, it wouldn’t be a side brawler without the level based traps that haunt your progression. You’ll get a few different types like land mines, poison, octopus pools on the ground, etc. Now, when all the zombies start hoarding you, you’ll be disappointed to find out that these traps aren’t as much traps as they are blocks. As in they block only your progress and not the zombies. So when you walk through a spider web and get slowed down or an octopus grabs you to hold you in place, you’re pretty much zombie food in the making.
Remember going into an arcade and finding that game with the flashing “press start” on the screen instead of “insert coin”? Two of the game’s difficulty modes are like that in casual and normal modes. Unlimited continues allow you start at the beginning of the level you die in. Those hardcore of you who grew up like me and tried to beat all the games you could appreciate the hard mode arcade 1990 difficulty. Once you are out of lives you are back at the main menu wondering where you went wrong with your life whether it’s level one or the final boss. I could see how this can be frustrating, but personally, I loved this level and it’s my favorite difficulty of all time in any game. For one that it reminds me of when I was younger and that’s awesome. For a second reason, it made me focus on a type of gameplay that has unfortunately long since been forgotten by many games and knowing this made me smile as I was playing.
All in all when you account for the comic book oriented story scenes, choppy maneuvering, 90s music and straight forwards attacks, Rock Zombie gives you the prototypical 90’s arcade experience reimagined for the current landscape. Yes, Rock Zombie has flaws but they are inherited in games of its genre. All-encompassing, Rock Zombie is the ultimate remaster of a 90’s arcade game that will absolutely have you reminiscing of “times of old” and smiling at those memories flowing through your brain as you’re playing it.