OMG HD Zombies

When the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard went multi-platform a couple of months back, OMG Zombies for PlayStation Mobile was the biggest surprise for me, and for most of my readers.  It landed #12 on the board.  It’s especially surprising considering that my previous review of it was a grand total of two paragraphs done as part of a shitty PlayStation Mobile round-up.  When the time came to start ranking every single game I had reviewed that qualified as an Indie, nobody was as surprised as me when I got to OMG Zombies.  I rank the games by comparing each game to the bottom game on the list. If I like it more than that game, I move up to the next game, and so forth, and so forth.  As it turned out, I would rather play OMG Zombies more than all but eleven other indie games.  That’s pretty significant.

This is either a picture of OMG HD Zombies or a picture of Wal Mart an hour after Black Friday begins.

One thing I’ve always wondered about zombie apocalypses: who cleans up the mess after all the zombies are gone? Seriously.  There are seven billion people on the planet, and all but a rag-tag group of ethnically-diverse outcasts with hearts of gold manage to survive.  What then?  Can you imagine the stench of seven billion corpses? I imagine it would be like E3, times seven billion. I would fucking kill myself just to avoid that. “Cathy, your turn for clean-up duty. Put on some rubber gloves and head to Topeka and get rid of..” BANG!!  “Oh.  Um.  Hey, Larry, another one shot themselves! Guess you’re working overtime again!”

OMG HD Zombies just hit Vita, for the modest price of $4.99.  It’s been out in Europe for months now.  The delay is probably some kind of payback for dragging our feet on the whole Hitler thing.  Hey, our President at the time was a cripple.  We couldn’t do anything but drag our feet.  Meanwhile, I’m curious why they delayed it.  I mean, yea, a zombie game releasing a couple of days before Halloween I guess means something.  Or it would, if there wasn’t a new zombie game every fucking day of the year and twice on Christmas.  Also, despite the “HD” tag, it doesn’t really look all that much better from the PlayStation Mobile version.  Maybe a little cleaner, but not so much so that I would call it a significant upgrade.

And with this new port comes some added technical issues.  Nothing directly tied to the gameplay, but navigating the menus was bothersome because the area of the touch screen that actually registers your touches seems too small.  I would poke and jab at the X in the corner of the dialog box trying to close the fucking thing and had to keep stabbing at it until the game was satisfied that yes, indeed, I wanted to close the dialog box.  This also happened sometimes with the larger “restart stage” box and the “back to the map” box.  Why make such a big fucking buttons if only small parts activate them?  Finally, I crashed the game a few times.  I’m used to this phenomenon, but OMG Zombies threw in the added twist of crashing so badly that the whole Vita had to be given a hard reset.  I think this happened while the game was saving, because when I rebooted it, the game had an error appear between every level, which caused a minute-long pause.  My attempts to run through the game a second time were officially dead, so I had to delete the save file and start over from scratch.  This certainly makes me wonder if the HD port is the one to go with right now.  The other two versions have less features, but they’re stable.  OMG HD is not.

In case you don’t know, the concept is you fire upon a crowd of zombies, who then explode like giant anamorphic piñatas.  Any zombies caught in the splash damage also explode, setting off a chain reaction.  Thus, you can clear an entire screen of zombies in a couple of shots.  OMG Zombies isn’t the first game to do this, but it’s the first one I played that I got completely hooked on.  When I played the PSM original, it became the first game I was so locked on that I ran the battery completely out trying to finish.  OMG HD Zombies became the second game I’ve done that with.  So potently addictive is this that, even with multiple crash issues, I kept coming back to it.

This is either a picture of OMG HD Zombies or Wal Mart an after hour Black Friday sales begin.

This is either a picture of OMG HD Zombies or Wal Mart an after hour Black Friday sales begin.

What’s really bizarre about the time sinkyness of OMG Zombies is that this isn’t exactly a game that puts your skills to the test.  Most of my best rounds of OMG came down to just plain stupid luck.  The placement of the zombies, the exploding barrels, which direction the last remaining stragglers walked, or which direction they fired off their splash damage. While talking with Cyril Lachel of Defunct Games, we genuinely questioned the amount of skill the game required.  Cyril went a little nuts with the concept, laying out exactly how well he was able to do on specific levels, blind versus aimed.  It’s actually a fascinating read, and I highly recommend it.  I didn’t take quite as many notes as him, but I did make a few observations on this.  If I had my zombies leveled up enough, so that the screen was filled with them, I might do as good closing my eyes and randomly poking a spot on the screen as I would taking my time and aiming.  Maybe.  But, at best I could do equally as good.  Never better, no matter what level.  And if the level contained exploding barrels?  Forget about it.  I always did better aiming.  So, you can’t really play OMG Zombies better blindfolded.

That doesn’t mean luck isn’t the prime factor in success with OMG Zombies.  Unless you possess super-hero like perception, there is no way you can keep track of the placement and aiming of every zombie on-screen.  Once you fire that initial volley, you’re kind of at the mercy of the chaos that ensues.  On top of that, many of the ways the zombies detonate each-other is based entirely on chance.  When the solider zombies die, they squeeze off a round of gunfire that sprays in a random direction.  When the head-popping zombies die, their head lands randomly somewhere on the screen.  When the electric zombies die, they shoot electricity off in a random direction.  When the acid-melty zombies turn into a puddle, you have to hope against hope that none of the zombies walking that way change direction and miss it entirely.  It’s never boring, but damned if there wasn’t multiple times I was left screaming “TURN AROUND AND FACE THE OTHER GUY YOU FUCKING SKIDMARK!” while waiting for a zombie shamble around in the right direction.  Above all else, OMG Zombies really needs a fast-forward option.  Waiting for the slow-pokes to move into position is the only time the game becomes tedious.

Yea, the addition of new zombies was cool, but it doesn’t do enough to freshen up the experience.  Is OMG HD Zombies a good game?  Absolutely.  One of the most satisfying games I’ve come across since starting Indie Gamer Chick.  The problem is, OMG Zombies was already a good game.  I guess it’s like comparing Street Fighter II to Street Fighter II Championship Edition.  Is the latter version good?  Sure, but you’re just fine if you only have access to the previous version.  And really, Laughing Jackal, you need to clean up those crashes.  Everyone is having them, and in all kinds of spots.  Cyril crashed twice from the stage select screen.  I crashed three times trying to skip the tally and either replay a stage or return to the stage select screen.  This never came up in the four and a half years (at least it felt that way) it took to get this from the UK to the US?  And why did you make this in the first place?  Shouldn’t you be working on Cubixx 2: Cube Harder?

OMG HD Zombies was developed by Laughing Jackal

OMGIGC_Approved$4.99 think this game is begging to be remade as an ad-supported title sponsored by the team of Coca-Cola and Pop Rocks in the making of this review.

OMG HD Zombies is Chick-Approved, but I’m lumping it in with the original review of OMG Zombies on PlayStation Mobile and keeping it where it was on the Leaderboard.  Because laziness is the American Way.

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Gun Commando, Samurai Beatdown, Cubixx, and OMG-Zombies!

Today we’re playing the Lightning Round of game reviews.  I played four PlayStation Mobile games this week in a quest to find something fun and original that justifies the existence of the platform.

First up was Gun Commando, a neo-retro Doom clone.  I have no idea why such games fascinate me, considering that Doom was well before my time.  I don’t know.  It just seems to me like the classic formula should be able to lend itself well to hit neo-retro indie titles in 2013.  However, Gun Commando is not that game.  It feels like Doom, what with brain-dead enemy AI, retro graphics, and labyrinthine levels.  Where it falls apart is the God awful controls.  Adjusting the sensitivity settings doesn’t seem to fix button-based controls, and thus lining up enemies to shoot is damn near impossible.  You’re forced to do everything on the touch screen, and this would work except any slight twitch of your finger forces you to fire your gun.  This is combined with enemy fire that is nearly impossible to avoid, dull weapons, and an absurd difficulty spike about halfway through.  It looks the part, but in truth, Gun Commando was doomed from the start.

Yea, that was lame.  I’ll move on.

Gun Commando was developed by Green Hill Games ($2.79)

If Doom was set in a trucking scrapyard and demons were replaced with angry football players.

If Doom was set in a trucking scrapyard and demons were replaced with angry football players.

Up next was Samurai Beatdown, which was free last week, normally priced at $0.99.  It’s alleged to be a rhythm game, but I found the actions on screen rarely seemed to synch up to the generic beat.  The concept is operating-a-light-switch-simple: enemies run at you from both sides.  Tap the left side of the screen to kill enemies running at you from the left, and the right side to kill enemies running at you from the right.  Again, even when you’re perfect, the enemies don’t seem to match up to the beat of the music.  I’m not musically inclined, so that was fine with me, but even on the hardest difficulty setting, Samurai Beatdown is so easy that it’s insulting, and it gets boring quite fast.  Not really worth the bandwidth when offered for free, I can’t even fathom paying money for it.

Samurai Beatdown was developed by Beatnik Games ($0.99)

You can enter an indestructible mode if you're running out of health.  This will never happen.

You can enter an indestructible mode if you’re running out of health. This will never happen.

As it turns out, the best PlayStation Mobile games are actually ports of existing PlayStation Mini titles.  Cubixx is free this week on Mobile.  It’s basically the exact same game as the PlayStation Mini title from a few years back, only the graphics are ever so slightly improved and it weighs less (22MB) than the original Mini version (29MB).  If you don’t already own it somewhere, shame on you.  It’s a fantastic take on the classic Qix formula.  I would actually recommend Cubixx HD on PlayStation 3 first and foremost, but Cubixx on Vita for free isn’t a bad alternative.  Draw lines on a cube, avoid enemies, fill in as much area as possible, move on to the next level.  It sounds dull, but if you’re gutsy, it can be an intense, extremely rewarding experience.  However, I can’t really get too excited over it, because I’ve played Cubixx to death over the last four years and it has nothing new to offer me.  If you haven’t already played it, it’s one of the best neo-retro games of the last generation.  If you have, there’s absolutely nothing new here.

Cubixx was developed by Laughing Jackal ($2.99, free right now)

Probably the most unenthusiastic I've ever wrote about a game I loved. Sorry, but after four years it's tough for me to get excited about the same game.

Probably the most unenthusiastic I’ve ever wrote about a game I loved. Sorry, but after four years it’s tough for me to get excited about the same game.

Finally, OMG Zombies, by the same guys that made Cubixx.  It’s also a PSP Mini port, but I somehow never played it despite apparently owning it.  The only explanation I can think of is I must have gotten it for free with PlayStation Plus and never touched it because I avoided zombie games like the plague before I started Indie Gamer Chick.  My loss really, because OMG Zombies is fucking awesome in a time-sink kind of way.  The idea is a field of zombies shamble around aimlessly, and you have a limited number of shots to pick them off.  Shooting a zombie causes them to explode, and if another zombie is close by, it detonates them too.  You have to set off a chain reaction that clears as many of them as possible.  There’s five classes of zombie.  Normal ones explode, fat ones explode bigger, cop zombies shoot bullets in a straight line when they die, commando zombies fire off a round of Uzi bullets when they die, and acid zombies turn into a pool of acid.  As you beat levels, you accumulate money that you can spend to upgrade the strength of your gun, or the potency of the damage zombies do to each other.

Where's Waldo has gotten pretty dark lately.

Where’s Waldo has gotten pretty dark lately.

OMG Zombies is so smart, because you can’t abuse the upgrade system with random grinding.  You can only earn each stage’s  four monetary rewards once.  It makes the gameplay so very engaging and rewarding that I almost forgot that OMG Zombies is much more based on luck than skill.  I would often restart levels multiple times because the exploding barrels were randomly placed together instead of spread apart.  Or there are stages where every enemy is one of the cop zombies, where no amount of skill is going to help you make sure that when the bullets start flying, they fly in the correct directions.  It can be frustrating for sure, but I never grew bored with it.  Everything you need to know about OMG Zombies can be summed up with the following two statements.  #1: I ran out my Vita’s battery twice playing it.  #2: I can’t even remember the last time I felt compelled to achieve 100% completion of a game, but I simply had to here.  I would say that qualifies OMG Zombies as a worthy use of your time.  My boyfriend might disagree.  He says with the amount of time I spent with it, it qualifies more as a hostage situation.

IGC_ApprovedOMG-Zombies! was developed by Laughing Jackal ($2.99)

Cubixx and OMG-Zombies! are Chick Approved.

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