Digging a deeper hole

It’s been a while since I’ve cracked open an ice-cold Steam game, but also I haven’t bought any new PC games since January (mostly because most of my video game budget is being funnelled directly into the Switch), so the Steam backlog had pretty well stabilized itself.

And then I bought another friggin’ Indie Gala bundle. It’s not my fault, they led with a good banner image and I was a little drunk at the time. This just goes to show: don’t drink and read e-mails.

The good news is that I’ve already played one of the ten games that came in said bundle to completion. I even went ahead and logged some unnecessary time to wring out all the achievements (but gave up because they’re tedious and would take forever), and I still spent less than two hours total with the game.

Zoo Rampage is kind of a pathetic little game. Or, to be fair, it’s a pathetic game for the year 2017. This is the kind of thing that would have seemed more at home back in the mid-nineties. One of those really cheap little PSOne games that you would have still felt half-burned by even if you’d only rented it.

This is an arcade-style game, where you take control of an animal, and then wreak as much havoc on the board as you can in a couple minutes. Zoo Rampage is a fitting title, because it actually plays somewhat like Midway’s old Rampage series. The big differences are that here you’re playing as perfectly normal animals and the action takes place from a top-down camera angle. Also you don’t actually eat or smoosh the humans, they just get flung around with those cartoon dizzy stars appearing above their heads.

Like I said, the goal is to destroy as much scenery and trample as many people as possible in two minutes. If you hit the target score on a stage, you get to move onto the next. Easy-peasy. Your only obstacle is an ever-increasing number of zookeepers that will chase after you in an attempt to shock you into submission. And if a couple of zookeepers get around you, it’s basically over, because they will stun-lock you to death and there’s basically nothing you can do about it.

There are a scant five regular stages to play through, and then two gimmicky bonus stages to play afterward. Clearing the game completely will take you maybe half an hour because of the broken zookeepers and also it’s kinda tough to hit the target score on the final stage. Like I said, I logged a little extra time to wrap up the achievements, but quit because all outstanding cheevos at the end were “run over X number of people” time-wasters that weren’t worth the effort.

The two gimmicky bonus stages are actually less fun than the main game, even though they’re obviously designed to be “fun” distractions. One has you trying to kick soccer balls into a goal as an elephant, which can be intensely frustrating until you learn how to cheese it. The other locks you in as a penguin, chasing around people and scooping up all the fish they drop behind them.

Zoo Rampage does let you play with up to four players at a time, but it’s local-only, so nobody will ever play this game with their friends. The game would also be significantly easier with multiple animals causing mayhem, so maybe that’s for the best after all.

And that’s about all I have to say about this one. A number of the songs on the soundtrack sound an awful lot like off-brand Goldfinger, and nothing about the game will give you the impression that anyone involved with its creation really cared about it. I apologize if I’m off-base with that assertion, but this is like half a game with no heart and no clear vision. It’s something you could get for free and still end up wondering why you bothered to play past the first stage.

Don’t bother playing Zoo Rampage. Just boot up your N64 (emulator) and play Rampage: World Tour instead. That’s what I wish I had done instead.

*NB: This game costs $3.99 USD on Steam. I paid $5 CAD for the bundle. I think it’s safe to say that even $0.50 is a steep price for this heap.

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