I've told you this before, but I remain ever more convinced of this fact, the zombie apocalypse (or zombiepocalypse if you will) is coming. I don't know when it's going to start, but I do know that television shows and videogames have me totally and completely ready for it. I have learned at least a half-dozen rules to fend off zombies and will feel absolutely no guilt about kicking out of my panic room anyone who may have gotten bitten.
On a fairly regular basis, in order to keep up with my zombie-wasting skills, I search out (or have delivered to me) a new zombie game or television show. These items are highly useful in terms of learning about the different types of zombies that I will face when the undead begin to walk the Earth once more, and the best ways for eliminating them. I promise you, if you want to survive the end of the world, you're going to need to learn all you can about our zombie enemies.
I'm not entirely sure that the methods by which one eliminates the undead in ZombieSmash! on the iPhone will truly help me once day of judgment arrives, but it does keep me thinking about our future nemeses, and that is important. If we are to remain alive in the post-apocalyptic world, we need to consider how to do that in the pre-apocalyptic one – zombies must remain a concern at all times.
ZombieSmash!, published and developed by Gamedoctors, currently sports two different campaigns (the second, "Camp Nowhere" was recently added and is a free update), both of which essentially function in the same way – zombies appear, and using a combination of finger-flicking and weapons, you eliminate them. It is both a clever and a frustrating title. The campaigns take place over the course of a calendar month, with each level representing a different day. Your mission, in tower defense-style, is to eliminate the oncoming zombie horde, with new levels introducing new weapons and/or zombies to constantly tweak gameplay.
Initially within ZombieSmash! all you have to do is grab a zombie with a finger and flick it around the screen – you, in this mode, are essentially a god-like creature. You get to watch as the zombie flies in rag doll fashion around the screen until bits of it come off and it eventually disappears leaving a star for your to grab (these stars can later be used to upgrade your weapons and defenses). As stated, the further you get into the game, the more weapons you have at your disposal including rocks, grenades, guns, pianos, mines, etc., etc. And, while the base zombie simply trudges towards your safe house, later ones run at it, fire guns, wear helmets, or cannot be flicked with your finger.
It is this last thing which presents something of a problem and makes the game at times frustrating. ZombieSmash! is fun when it abides by its own rules – despite being corporeal and in the house you still have the ability to act like a god and flick zombies. Once the game breaks those rules, not allowing you to flick zombies of certain types or any zombie on certain levels, it becomes less enjoyable. Either you're a god-like being or your not, there seems to be no spinach-in-a-can reason for your ability to flick at times and not flick at others, just a desire on the part of Gamedoctors to artificially make some levels more difficult.
Another issue with ZombieSmash! arises in the number of zombies the game throws at you. Part of the point of the game is to watch the pretty zombies fly around the screen as you flick them, but so many zombies appear that you don't get the chance to do that. Instead, you'll spend most of your time on every level with your thumbs constantly flicking without ever stopping to see the result of your flicks – if you do stop, you're going to give the undead an unwelcome opportunity to advance. Essentially you have two choices – watch the excellent graphics or perform your task well, and anyone who is serious about surviving the coming disaster will choose the latter. You can hear the soundtrack, which is also wonderful, no matter what you choose, but having to decide between the pretty and the winning isn't satisfying.
The levels in ZombieSmash! are relatively quick and the game saves automatically, so it is a good pick-up-and-play-for-a-couple-of-minutes title. And, if you're only playing a level or two at a time the frustrations are kept to a minimum.
As we inexorably head towards the zombiepocalypse, we're going to need to become more comfortable detaching body parts from the undead and watching the resultant splatter without a sense of squeamishness. ZombieSmash! will only help people do this, and the ability to freeze frame, save, and upload to social networking sites the final zombie death on each level, can be most amusing as well.
If you're just starting out your own preparations for the end of days and looking for a low-key way to desensitize yourself to zombie death, ZombieSmash! is a great place to start. More experienced zombie killers will also find new thoughts on how to eliminate an oncoming zombie multitude. The game may not go as in depth as some of its console relatives, but it is a satisfying on-the-go study aid.
ZombieSmash! is not rated by the ESRB but features cartoon violence.
Article first published as iPhone Game Review: ZombieSmash! on Blogcritics.