Thursday, March 15, 2012

Review: Little Red Riding Hood's Zombie BBQ

A video game title more bad-ass than Little Red Riding Hood's Zombie BBQ is akin to an honest politician; it's just an absurd impossibility. 
 
Developed by EnjoyUp games, the slightly obscure Zombie BBQ is a far cry from fairy tale of your youth. Is this trip to Grandma's house worthwhile, or will you pray for the jaws of the Big Bad Wolf?

The game opens with a slide-show animation set to rock music giving you a general outline of the story which, by the way, doesn't matter. The important thing is you get to roast zombies with a flamethrower, which is one of the five weapons in your zombie-slaying arsenal. The basic weapon is the machine gun, or throwing stars if you play as Mamo Toro, a ninja from Tokyo aiding our hooded heroine on her quest to find the source of the evil plaguing the world. A shotgun, flamethrower, lazer, and bombs are also available to the player. Ammunition is limited to nine per weapon, except for the machine gun/stars, which are infinite.

This is a straightforward arcade-style action game, with a pretty intuitive control scheme. All attacks are performed using touch controls. The machine gun, flamethrower, and lazer will fire continuously as long as the stylus is in contact with the screen. While the lazer is firing movement is disabled, and it cannot be aimed. The others are aimed by dragging the stylus along the screen. Bombs are thrown by double tapping an area on screen, and the shotgun is used by tapping where you want to shoot. I accidentally double tapped the screen many times while trying to fire off another round or while trying to reload the machine gun, which is accomplished by lifting and replacing the stylus. An additional method I think would work well is to use up or down on the d-pad, which could aim the bomb to wherever the stylus is. If a zombie grabs hold of you, tapping your character will perform a slash attack, cutting them in half. At any other time, your character will duck.

Movement is limited to a row toward the bottom of the screen divided into seven squares. This is navigable one square at a time using the left and right directionals, which is the preferred method for the majority of the game as the stylus is free to gun down the oncoming waves of zombies. Tapping anywhere along the row with the stylus will quickly move your character to that position. There is a slight delay between input and action when it comes to movement. First the square is highlighted, then your character follows suit. It's easy to get used to and doesn't really hinder the gameplay much, but is frustrating during slowdown, which can be severe when the field is full of objects. This is more of a problem on harder difficulty modes which send larger numbers of zombies stumbling your way.

The game features seven worlds with two levels each, and a final boss. Obstacles include hands sticking up from the ground, fire, fallen trees, exploding barrels, and more. A few times per level, a cat chasing a fish skeleton will make its way across the screen. Shooting the fish then the cat will yield a health pack and bomb, but shoot the cat then fish or just one of them and you'll only find a health pack. Crates are also scattered throughout the stages, and randomly contain weapons. Health and weapons can only be obtained by shooting them, which I thought was a poor design choice.

The beginning stage, as you've probably guessed, has you on your way to grandma's house. The game typically has the player traverse a couple of levels before each boss fight. At certain times between levels, Riding Hood and Mamo Toto will exchange dialogue, furthering the story. After making it through the cemetery and woods, it's time to fight grandma, who is looking awfully green and evil. Her attacks include hurling furniture at you with demonic telekinesis, charging you, and spitting up wolves and sets of chomping dentures. The game's bosses span multiple fairy tales. You'll encounter a fratricidal Gretel, the Three Little Pigs, Sleeping Beauty, a very naughty Santa, and some others. You can probably guess what the final boss is. Each boss is unique and never feels boring or repetitive to fight. The same can be said for the many different types of enemies.

I'll save you some time and annoyance: if you want to see the full game the first time through, play on hard mode. Easy mode cuts you off right before the final boss, and you'll have to spend another 90 minutes or so going through the game again. Normal mode feels a bit easy anyway. After completing the game on hard mode, the extreme difficulty and a boss rush mode are unlocked. At the end of the credits the game teases you with an image of a zombie lumberjack. I haven't played the boss rush or extreme modes yet, but I'm assuming he's encountered in one of these.

Little Red Riding Hood's Zombie BBQ can be had at an affordable $7.99 on DsiWare/3DS eShop and around that same price for a physical copy.

Find Little Red Riding Hood's Zombie BBQ on ebay

Released: 2008-10-31
Publisher: Destineer
Developer: EnjoyUp

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