I am the Taco King!

The woman and I took the yearly trip down to Fargo last Wednesday afternoon, and stayed until Friday night. It was a pretty paint-by-numbers expedition, but there were a few highlights. For one, we explored a bit farther than the shopping/hotel part of the city and checked out downtown Fargo a bit. It was actually pretty cool. We saw some interesting shops, a liberry, and we even got stuck in the middle of some kind of classic car show. It was a ton of fun, and of course, there was a ton of shopping to be had.

She’s been absolutely picture-crazy ever since she got a camera for her birthday, and I felt I needed to compete during this trip. I took a big handful of photos over the course of the two-and-a-half days, and my original intent was to take compelling pictures of strange, wonderful, or curious things and make an awesome gallery of intrigue. However, most of them ended up being of all the things I normally take pictures of. And my girlfriend. There are lots of her. Because, you know. Overall, I’d say her gallery wins. If only because it’s a lot bigger (though it should be noted that she wasn’t stuck with a crappy 16MB memory stick).

That gallery, while much more tepid than I’d hoped it would be, will be posted later this week. Today, I want to talk about the single video game I purchased during the trip: Teenage Zombies: Invasion of the Alien Brain Thingys. Yeah, it’s one of those Ninjabread Man scenarios where the title and theme seemed so awesome that I couldn’t resist. Fortunately, Teenage Zombies was only half the price of Ninjabread Man. Also, it isn’t horrible.

Developed by InLight Entertainment (who have apparently made a grand total of three games), Teenage Zombies is at first highly reminiscent of Super NES game The Lost Vikings. It’s a platform-puzzler which gives you three characters with unique abilities that will help you conquer your environments. Yeah. To be completely honest, if someone had told me about this game and compared it to The Lost Vikings, but with zombies, I would have ran out and bought it a year ago. The sad truth however, is that this game is not nearly as brilliant as its seventeen-years-older cousin.

I don’t want to be too harsh on TZ though, as it is a pretty fun game, and I expected much, much less for $10. The biggest complaint I have is that unlike its Nordic counterpart, TZ has you hot-swapping between zombies. The Lost Vikings had all three characters on-screen at once, and you’d often have to combine their skills to overcome the trickier puzzles. Hitting L or R to replace zombies when one isn’t doing the trick isn’t as satisfying as teaming them up would be. The levels are still pretty clever, requiring almost constant switching of zombies. The first few chapters will seem like a breeze, but about halfway through the game I found myself dying several times before making it to the next checkpoint. And it never really felt cheap or dull either. The game is constantly giving you new power-ups, but very rarely tells you when, where, or in what order you need to use them.

The biggest problem I have with the game is that it’s a bit light on enemies. There are rats, and brains. A couple different types of brains, but nothing radically different. I suppose it’s more of a boon that combat is simple though, because what is there is a bit rough. Attack animations are slow, and most of the time you can only hit one enemy at a time, regardless of how many are within your range. Sometimes your hits don’t even connect at all. The other thing I have a minor complaint about are the stylus mini-games. They’re boring and (almost) frustrating to control. Fortunately, you’re only forced to play each once, and you can move on regardless of your performance. The one mini-game that is fun is the one where you put a zombie back together by dragging his parts around. It’s really simple, but a neat distraction.

Overall, I’ve got to say that Teenage Zombies was a pretty good buy. For $10 anyway. It’s soaked up a few hours of my life, and I don’t regret spending either the money or the time on it. The gameplay itself is a bit repetitive, but fun enough to keep you going until you get to the end, and that’s really the prize itself. The cutscenes are hilarious, and the banter between the Big Brain and his No. 1 is entertaining enough to give players reason to keep plodding through to the end, even when you have to restart a level five or six times until you hit the right combination of powers. Definitely worth a look.


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