Freaky Fridays: Zombie Revenge

Zombie Revenge, released in arcades and for the Sega Dreamcast in 1999, was a game behind its time.  On a declining system, the game was a spin-off from House of the Dead and was originally titled “Blood Bullet: The House of the Dead Side Story.”  While that doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue, it is strange that the game doesn’t include “House of the Dead” in the title or anywhere in the booklet.  This maybe due in part of the game play being changed drastically to a beat ‘em up, but abandoning a name brand like House of the Dead was one of Sega’s many marketing mistakes.  The other sizeable blunder this game makes is being particularly bad.  However, Zombie Revenge makes up for its missteps with a mind-boggling camp value nearing levels of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room (I said nearing, cause nothing is as bat-assed as The Room).

The story revolves around the same issues surrounding other House of the Dead titles.  Evil corporation guy, this time its Zed, who wants everyone to be zombies.  Take control of an AMS agent and please stop him. Like other games in the HOTD series, Zombie Revenge is rife with terrible dialogue, my favorite being “ITS COMING OUT,” and yes, it is all capitalized on screen.  Its hard to say if the developers meant this game to be so bad its good in its story, but some clues can be found that point to the developers knowing exactly what they were doing.

First off, one of the games main characters, Rikiya Busujima, speaks only in Japanese to his English speaking partners.  He also giant scars all over his body and a patchwork face resembling Frankenstein (seriously, why would you choose anyone else?).  Also, at points in the game objects can obstruct the screen.  For example, a fly walks around on the “camera lens” as you fight in a trash filled alleyway.  Additionally the game features a zombie hiding behind a blanket, human heads with bat wings, zombies using shotguns and machine guns, and zombies wearing baseball caps (I’m not sure why I find baseball caps so funny, but I’m counting it).  Debates on whether this game is meant to be silly keeps Zombie Revenge’s shelf life a little bit fresher.  The VMU minigames are another feature you’ll want to revisit, that is if you own one.

Zombie Revenge’s best feature was also one of the best games for the VMU: the Zombie Revenge Raising Game.  Imagine yourself playing Tomagotchi.  Now replace that tomagotchi with a zombie!  About a million times better, right?  You collect food for your zombie in Original mode.  You can also play with your zombie in Zombie Fishing and Zombie Doubt.  Zombie Fishing is a nice little time waster where you can cast your line, reel in, and see the results of what kind of zombies are lurking in the water.  Zombie Doubt is a very confusing version of Simon Says.   After you train your little zombie to grow big and strong, you can use him in the fighting mode.  Remember the terrible fighting mode in Double Dragon?  It’s been transplanted into Zombie Revenge and given a third dimension.  Well, maybe that’s not the greatest incentive to raise a zombie, but at least the developers were trying to incorporate the VMU game play into the main game.   The proper game is not quite as fun as the VMU game play, but it does have its charms.

Killing zombies is harder in this game than any other zombie game on the market.  They don’t go down without a few rounds pumped into them.  Taking aim with your pistol, a gyroscopic shape spins around your enemies’ head.  The long you wait, the more powerful your shot.     But unlike other games, you can put zombies in a figure four leg lock!  Axes, pipes, drills, and flamethrowers litter the path of carnage, but most of the time you’re better off with your trusty pistol (How can you kill a zombie in one or two shots with a pistol and it takes four with a shotgun?).   Trying to use a combo attack against foes is a toss up, sometimes they work and most of the time you throw them for minimum damage.  The best technique I’ve found is charging in with a running punch then shooting your target on the ground.  Different game modes don’t necessarily distinguish themselves form each other.  Arcade mode is the standard mindless beat ‘em up, one or two players.  Original mode is one player only, but as stated previously, you can collect goods to use in your VMU zombie minigame.  Bare knuckled mode is the great if you looking for a change of pace or you absolutely hate using guns and if this is the case, then hats off.  Your honor is only matched by your ruggedness, you badass roughneck you.   However, the game’s cornball stylization and its ability to make you laugh your head off by throwing axes into a group of zombies and cutting their arms off make this game worth seeking out.  It would be a rental in the older days, but go play it at your super cool friend house with all the Dreamcast games.  That guy is solid, man

While this game may not be good for several reasons, it is awesome because of the cheese factor.  This game is like a one night stand.  You shouldn’t play it if you’re looking for something to revisit again and again, you should pick it up if your looking for a fun time.

  • I was just listening to the Retronauts Dreamcast episode with Tycho. He talked about how he and Gabe loved this game and played it incessantly.

  • PorkLord

    I don’t think I noticed the flaws as a pre-teen xD Cool to see a modern experienced look at the ol’ Zombie Revenge. I’ll always remembering watching it in arcades.

  • If anyone in the Los Angeles area wants to play, give a shout. (that really cool guy I was alluding to in the article was me!)

%d bloggers like this: