Sega had a strategy for every console release. This strategy revolved around porting their arcade games to a new home console, which would help them build a library of arcade hits to try and drive people to buy the new console. They wanted to bring the arcade experience into the home.
This worked for some companies in the 80s, but by the time the Dreamcast was released, arcades were dying a second death, and people wanted more than arcade ports as launch titles. This is the environment that Zombie Revenge was released into.
Zombie Revenge is a spin-off of the House of the Dead series and turns the light gun game into a beat’em up. It isn’t a bad idea, but the execution wasn’t as good as it could’ve been. Parts of the game seem to have taken inspiration from other Sega beat’em ups, but there is something about the gameplay that I feel is lacking.
TLDR: A Middle of the Road Beat’em Up with Good Ideas that aren’t Fully Capitalized on.
The story in Zombie Revenge could’ve worked for several video games. It is all about how the zombies were created and secret government experiments going wrong. For some reason, AMS is sent in to sort all of this out.
The US government is conducting an experiment to turn the dead into zombie soldiers. I think everyone knows how this is going to end. Some mysterious person named “Zed” takes control of the project and releases zombies in this unnamed city. You have to stop him.
It is a simple story, but it is all you need for a beat’em up. There are some callbacks to the House of the Dead games, aside from AMS being in the game. It is a nice spinoff, and as far as I can tell, this idea wasn’t followed up on.
I wanted to like this game more than I did. The gameplay isn’t bad, but the guns felt like they were more of a hindrance. I would’ve liked the game more if the guns were temporary power-ups.
The pistol is a holdover from House of the Dead. It worked for a Light Gun game like House of the Dead but became an annoyance in a Beat’em Up. The biggest problem is that the enemies are bullet sponges. It takes a ridiculous number of bullets to take down enemies, and it can be hard to target a specific bad guy.
Stupidly, I didn’t read the manual before playing this game. I figured it was a beat’em up, and the controls would be simple. They are simple, but you have two attacks. You can shoot enemies, and you can use a melee attack. This makes it easier to fight enemies that are close to you.
While it is nice to have two attacks, like punching and kicking in other beat’em ups, I think the developers made things too complicated. You have a dash, guard, pick up an item, and super attacks for ranges and melee attacks. It is overly complex.
If you have an arcade stick controller, the button layout is better than the base controller. It isn’t necessary to play the game, but it feels like it was programmed with the arcade stick in mind.
Another holdover from the House of the Dead franchise is reloading your gun. You also have a limited amount of ammo for your guns, regardless of whether it is a special gun or your base handgun. I think this is okay for special weapons like the machine gun or the shotgun.
There is plenty of ammo in the game, so you probably won’t run out of ammo for your handgun. It seems odd, especially since House of the Dead didn’t have ammo limits on your base gun. I guess it works better in a Beat’em Up.
As an arcade port, Zombie Revenge has quite a bit to offer regarding game modes. At this point in video game history, developers could do much more when porting an arcade game to the home console. Here is a list of the game modes:
- Arcade Mode
- Original Mode, which has Normal, Gun, and Bare Knuckle options.
- Vs. Boss Mode
- Fighting Mode
- Training Room
I mostly played the Arcade and Original modes. I wasn’t interested in the Fighting mode, but it is nice that they added it. It gives you more options to play when you and your friends get sick of the main mode.
There are three playable characters in the game. I didn’t see this in the game, but they play differently. I’m guessing it is a difference of which attack does more damage. Here they are:
- Stick Breiting
- Linda Rotta
- Rikiya Busujima
There is a time limit on the levels in the game. I wouldn’t say I like this at all. I don’t like time limits in home console or arcade games, especially when the game starts flashing “Hurry Up” at you until you advance the level.
Don’t worry about getting lost in the game. Even though it is a 3D game, the levels are small enough for you not to get lost, and bright blue arrows will guide you through the game.
The enemies are zombies, and the bosses are mutants. Most zombies use melee attacks, while a few have guns or other projectile attacks. You’ll occasionally come across some flying enemies, but they are rare.
The bosses have some unique ability that makes you change up your strategy. They also display a life bar to let you know how close you’re to victory or how close you came before you died. The primary enemies don’t have life bars. But they take a lot of hits.
The enemies are bullet sponges. They take a ludicrous number of attacks. It is one of my most significant issues with the game. If you play in Original mode, you can change how much damage your melee or gun attacks deal. By picking Bare Knuckle, your melee attacks deal more damage, while Gun strengthens your guns.
I’ve never encountered more than five enemies at a time. I’m unsure why, but I think this was to keep things similar to House of the Dead. In that game, you’ll fight two to four enemies at a time. It works for House of the Dead, but with a beat’em up like Zombie Revenge, I would’ve liked more enemies that were weaker.
Overall, the gameplay is fine. It has the same issues as in other beat’em ups, but it also has more serious flaws. I wish the developers had stuck with punches and kicks as your attacks. Guns would’ve been cool power-ups, but the focus would’ve been on hand-to-hand combat. The basic enemies also took way too many hits to kill.
The game looks good. By the time the Dreamcast was released, there wasn’t a gap between arcade games and home consoles. Zombie Revenge’s graphics are arcade-perfect.
The game uses fixed camera angles for the most part. It is similar to Resident Evil and Silent Hill in that regard. Like other beat’em ups, you get locked into a location until you’ve beaten all the enemies. It isn’t done well and looks out of place at times.
Zombie Revenge has some interesting enemies once you get further in the game. You still have the base zombies, but you’ll also come across mutants or zombies that have been heavily experimented on. The bosses look very good, and the locations are great as well.
Everything is labeled for the player. It is a quality-of-life feature that I appreciate. While it isn’t hard to tell where you need to go and what you can pick up, having the extra visual cues is very helpful.
Overall, I like the graphics quite a bit. Dreamcast games look very good, even early in 3D video games. It isn’t the best-looking Dreamcast game, but it looks great!
7.5/10. It is a fine Beat’em Up that has some glaring issues. It is a terrific concept to fight Zombies, but the use of guns is a determent to the game. It would probably be better if it were a bare-knuckle brawler first with guns as special item drops, like the Die Hard arcade game or Dynamite Cop.
- Multiple Game Modes
- Good Graphics
- Bullet Sponge Enemies
- Limited Continues
- Repetitive Gameplay
Zombie Revenge is an interesting game for a few reasons. It tries to be a beat’em up and a shooter. It doesn’t do either of them well enough for me to say it is a great game. It is a fun game to play, but it is average.
It has good graphics, a fun gameplay loop, and a goofy story that works well to get the player into the game. However, it does get repetitive, and while it has a bunch of game modes, they all play the same. I think it would’ve been better if I had some friends to play with while I was making this review.
I like that this is a spinoff of the House of the Dead games. It doesn’t need to be, and the ties are barely there, but it is fun that they’re there. It doesn’t tie into the main series, as far as I can tell. Zombie Revenge is a fun beat’em up, and I would’ve liked to play the arcade game at some point.