If only the designers had used their… braainsss…
Right off the bat, I want to say that the name "Zombie Revenge" is totally misleading. I thought that we were finally going to get a game where our zombie friends wreak justified havoc on the undead-hating populations of the world. A game where they rise up (from the grave) to crush the living oppressor pigs in a glorious necro-revolution. Where they finally, once and for all, kill off those pesky special agents that are always slaughtering hundreds of innocent zombies, and then eat their brainsss… Yes, a world of delicious flesh, piled to the sky, zombie friends all around and nothing to do but rot and eat those delicious braainss..
Ahem. Er, where was I? Oh yes. No such luck with Zombie Revenge, another Sega arcade translation. Once again you take control of one of those smarmy special AMS agents from the House of the Dead universe and go on a zombie killing rampage. With flying body parts, big weapon loadouts, two-player action, stylish kung-fu and giant zombie bosses, it's a damn fun game… the first few times you play. Then you begin to realize that there's nothing more. No goals, no depth, not really a story, nothing. Suddenly, you feel a little gypped.
The problem is that this is a poorly done arcade translation. Not only did they add very little new stuff, but what they did convert over reeks of incredibly quick, sloppy work full of inconsistent menu buttons and long load times. They did just enough to make it work and then they went home.
Let's start with the graphics. Not bad, pretty average. They get the job done with a good framerate, but we've seen the Dreamcast do a lot better in quite a few different games. In fact, I think the zombies in House of the Dead 2 were more aesthetic, with better textures, more moving parts, and facial changes. Plus, with no movies to help the story along, this is basically just lazy work.
And the sound? Oh, the sound. Whoever was in charge of the sound should be killed, slowly and painfully. Then he should be brought back as a zombie, and killed again. The music starts off fine, with some fast paced organ and choral music a-la House of the Dead. But somewhere in the middle of the game you'll suddenly notice that the music has changed to some pointless, talentless noodling. It sounds like a zombie poking at a Casio keyboard, in the dark, with someone else's severed hand.
However, as bad as the music gets, it's absolutely brilliant compared to the voice 'acting.' I think this is a new, all-time low. The team of Helen Keller, Muhammad Ali and Larry Flint would have done a better job than the Japanese non-native-English-speakers they got to do the voices for Zombie Revenge. (I think you're going to hell. - Ed.)
To the actor's credit, there is very little about the plot to inspire them. The game certainly never explains it very well. There's a bad guy trying to destroy the world with zombies. The three heroes out to stop his nefarious scheme are the chick (fast but weak), the white guy (medium rare), and a Japanese Elvis impersonator (yes!). I'm only going to mention the white guy's name because it happens to be 'Stick Breitling.' Excuse me?
The game itself is good, fun, arcade action, but it's only one fairly short scenario, and unlike the other House games, has only one real path. Fine for the arcade, but not enough for home. It's pretty tough, so it will take you a while to beat it, but that means playing the same beginning parts over and over again every single time since the game isn't long enough to have save points. The now familiar Sega 'Original mode' is exactly the same as Arcade mode, except you can make either the guns or the kung-fu more powerful.
So what did they add to 'flesh-out' the home version? I can sum it up in two words: 'Zombie Fishing.' I can sum Zombie Fishing up in one word: 'Pointless.'
I suppose it deserves more explanation than that. There is a not-very-good 'Fighting Mode' that lets you pit two of the special agents against each other. There's also a little virtual pet game that you can download to your VMU that lets you improve the strength of your fighting character. Feed your special agent. Play 'simon' with your special agent. Go Zombie Fishing (hit left or right when it tells you). It's boring and in the end, certainly not worth it.
Wow, that's a whole lot of complaining. I have to emphasize that despite these flaws, the game underneath is damn fun. There's just nothing I like as much as some good zombie action. I wish Sega had taken more time with Zombie Revenge; removed the loading times, made some graphical improvements, hired actual voice actors, and added another mission or two. Then they could have made something to really be proud of. As it stands, there's just not enough meat on this zombie's corpse. It's the perfect rental, but I wouldn't buy it.