Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Zombie Bowl-O-Rama

Please note that this is the rough draft for a review I wrote for BuyZombie.com. Please check out the final draft of the review here.

Zombie Bowl-O-Rama... It's a casual game by Mumbo Jumbo about bowling. With zombies. That's not normally what you would consider two great tastes that taste great together. It's really quite... random. The "story" (such as it is) is that an asteroid FROM OUTER SPACE crashes into a graveyard and then suddenly zombies! The opening intro video and the main menu are actually probably my favorite parts of the game. They've got this great cheesy 50s sci-fi horror vibe that I quite dig.

Unfortunately the rest of the game lacks the 50s vibe. You start with story mode which explains that you have to fight against the zombie hoard by defeating them in bowling. You and the zombie hoard take turns throwing bowling balls at... zombies. Yeah, it seems a bit strange that the zombie hoard would willingly knock down its own members. There's a lot in the game like that. You really have to just have to repeat the MST3K mantra to yourself and let it go. In the end, the nonsensical plot is just an excuse to bowl over some zombies. So the real question is "is the bowling any good?" Well, yes and no. It's very simplistic. You decide how fast you want to throw the ball, and in what initial direction, but after that, you simply move your mouse to guide the ball. This is a game where you bow over zombies in order to send a meteor back into space, physics have no business here. If that's all it were, the bowling would be very unsatisfying indeed. However, as you bowl, you can pick up various power-ups for yourself (such as making your ball huge or encasing the zombies in ice) and power-downs to play against your opponent (such as making the lane slick or turning their ball into a head of lettuce). Almost all of these are quite overpowered, and so it often turns into a game of luck-based rock-paper-scissors. Do you have the power-up that cancels the power-down that your opponent just played on you?
The production values aren't bad. For a game that's several years old it still looks decent. Keep in mind that this is still a casual game, so you're not going to get photo-realistic graphics or anything. It's got good graphics... for a budget game. The zombies have several swappable parts to create variety, so there are businessmen zombies, punk zombies, construction worker zombies or any mix thereof. It's kind of funny to see a zombie in a business suit with punk hair, sunglasses, holding a drill. There are also several animations that are actually kind of funny, ranging from the zombies making fun of you for missing to covering their crotches, soccer-style, in anticipation of getting knocked over. There are lots of other little touches that make the game slightly more interesting, such as the zombies yelling "brains" when you use the power-up that turns the bowling ball into a brain or how when you get a strike, the end of the lane will burp the zombie parts back at you. It's all kind of silly and kind of immature, but at least it shows that the developers put real thought into the game.
It may sound like I'm ragging on the game, and I'm not trying to, really. It's just that it helps a lot to play the game if you're a kid. Honestly. In most ways this is a game intended for children. From the simplistic game mechanics to the sometimes juvenile humor, this is a game that kids will probably get a big kick out of, but most adults won't care too much for. My two-year-old absolutely adores the game, and so I'll play it with him for bonding time. The best part is that I don't mind playing it with him because it's not a bad game at all. It's just that it's not something I would play on my own.

Bottom Line: There's not much here that an adult would be entertained by, but there's plenty for kids. If you've got kids who like zombies, check it out. Otherwise, you'll probably want to give it a pass.

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