Zombie Nation/Abarenbou Tengu Retro Wednesdays Episode 60

imgresI still can’t believe we’ve done 60 of these. This week on Retro Wednesdays we take a look at Zombie Nation for the Famicom!

So if you wanted to try to come up with a game like you couldn’t if you tried. So Zombie Nation (Abarenbou Tengu) is a shmup style game where you play as a giant mask, or a demon, or a ghost. I still don’t know. You’re fighting enemies for some reason and you have to rescue falling humans. Literally that is about as much as I could figure out from this insanity. The game plays a little like a super loose gradius with your character’s giant head floating everywhere. You have to avoid all kinds of enemies from helicopters and missiles to boulders and giant aliens. You have a health meter but you learn early on it goes down super fast and you only have one life.

I want to say Zombie Nation has good graphics since it has a lot going on in the foreground and background, but part of the problem with this game is that you can NEVER tell what hits you and what doesn’t. So many times we would be playing and just die. Some background items hurt you, some foreground projectiles you never see. It very quickly becomes frustrating.

Speaking of Frustrating. The controls. My GOD the controls! You very rarely feel in control of your character or mask or whatever the hell it is. Describing the controls of Zombie Nation, or any game for that matter is difficult at best, but the closest word I can use to is “slide”. Your character slides whenever it moves. It is obvious immediately that there is a drift mechanic or something in the game and it really makes the game fall apart. You never ever feel in control and it’s part of the reason most shmup fans pass on this game. You also end up getting pushed around by a lot of environmental objects like waterfalls and you inevitably will end up getting hit a ton. Did I mention that you have zero post hit invincibility?

Sound wise, Zombie Nation is actually OK. No real complaints there other than you’ll end up hearing the same music over and over from dying so much.

In the end Zombie Nation is one of those weird games that commands a pretty high price I guess from the oddity of the game. It certainly hits the nail on the head when it comes to weird games, but in my experience it’s just not that good, and certainly not good for commanding a $100 price for famicom and up to $500 US. Zombie Nation is just not worth it.

 

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