ZombieBall (PC)

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Monday, February 13, 2006

Graphics: 9.00
Sound: 9.25
Gameplay: 9.50
Replays: 9.75

Back in October of 2004, I took a look at an extremely addicting BreakOut/Arkanoid style game called Invasion Waves from WildSnake Software. Fast-forward to late 2005 and WildSnake has released another game in this style but has ditched the alien theme. After having extensive play time with this one, I won’t hesitate to say that it’s one of the best games of its genre I’ve played in years and it will addict even the most jaded of casual gamers.

The beauty of ZombieBall is that it combines elements of an old school Montezuma’s Revenge style game with BreakOut gameplay. Many of the block setups have various monsters walking around on them, which need to be taken out in order to progress. Depending on which game mode you’re playing, player’s objectives will either be just to eliminate all of the monsters in a particular level or catch a certain number with your shield to progress. These two different modes have 100 different levels each (instead of reusing the same ones) and there are also three difficulty settings. Combine this with a High Score list that is managed through WildSnake’s website, and you have a highly replayable game.

With this new theme comes a new graphical style as well. All of the various monsters you will be taking out in every level are well animated and maintain that consistency no matter how many of them are on-screen at a time. Although a lot of levels contain similar architecture (no completely zany block arrangements here), all of them are done in such a way that keeps the challenge level up. Many levels contain switches or blocks that must be hit in order to progress, which gives the player incentive to use some accuracy when hitting the ball off their shield. Although players won’t be able to say that these are the most hi-res or even the most detailed graphics they have ever seen in a game of this type, they are very aesthetically pleasing and match the somewhat old-school feeling that the game is going for.

No game of this type would be complete without power-ups, and ZombieBall is very happy to oblige. Power-ups actually fit in very well with the theme of this game, as you are usually trying to eliminate monsters. Due to this, power-ups like cannons and machine guns naturally fit into the game as they help you take out each monster. Along with those, there are other power-ups such as Freeze, Super Multi-Ball, and a Safety Bumper that will help players out.

One element where a lot of independent games seem to skimp on is in the sound work. Many times a game may have absolutely innovative gameplay and very good graphics, but when it comes to sound the developers just stick in extremely generic background music. Luckily, WildSnake has taken the time to put in music that fits the theme of the game. Background music actually has a somewhat tribal feeling to it mixed in with the macabre feel that it lends itself well to, keeping the sounds fresh in the player’s heads. In addition, all of the monsters have their own unique sounds and there is an announcer that will announce what power-ups you have gotten or when you have completed a level. These sound effects are extremely well done and add a much needed level of depth to an already very competent game.

There are no real problems to point out with ZombieBall. WildSnake has taken the time to craft a lengthy and extremely compelling experience that rivals anything else they have released already. I know that there are a ton of BreakOut/Arkanoid clones out on the market right now, but this is one of the few that you shouldn’t miss. Support WildSnake’s decisions to throw some innovation into the genre and give ZombieBall at least a trial download.

http://www.wildsnake.com/arcade/zb/

Overall Rating: 9.25

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