Nostalgia alone isn't enough to satisfy modern gamers.
It doesn't take a bio-engineer to figure out what Over 9000 Zombies! is all about. Dragon Ball Z fans will recognize the obscure reference ("It's over 9000!"), and the tongue-in-cheek title is good for a chuckle the first time it's heard. Sporting highly-pixelated visuals and non-stop shooting action, this top-down retro-shooter is basically an upgraded version of the classic arcade game Berzerk. Too bad the gameplay is just as generic as the title.
Players assume the role of a typical unnamed one-man army who must use his wits and mighty arsenal to survive never-ending waves of both human and animal zombies. Apparently, it's not enough to decimate a variety of human zombies, so the developer has also included assorted undead animals like vicious dogs, flying birds, and worst of all, creepy crawly crabs! Since every enemy runs on the same "charge at the player" A.I., zombie variety ends up being little more than window dressing.
Three single-player maps, as well as one two-player and one four-player, set the stage for zombie genocide. All maps have pre-fabricated structures that provide unbreakable barriers against the undead horde, and players can also build basic walls and powerful turrets to help them survive. Add the fact that everything players build can be destroyed, and the result provides a framework for different strategies. For example, surrounding a turret with walls will make it last longer, and creating a funnel out of barricades makes it easier to mow down the walking dead.
Playing Over 9000 Zombies! alone not only becomes monotonous very fast, but it's also slightly more difficult. Joining a friend or three opens up new strategies like having one person make barricades and turrets while the other blasts enemies. Players who go it alone will have to wait for the grace period between waves to do most of their constructing. Regardless of how many people are playing, most players will quit a game because they're bored or have something else to do rather than quitting because they die. This is due in large part to the game being quick to figure out, and some strategies are over-powered (I'll let you discover them for yourself).
Besides the repetitive gameplay and blocky visuals, my biggest gripe is how the controls can't be customized. I know the game is supposed to have a retro feel, but custom controls are a basic staple in nearly all modern games. In addition, the build (B) and weapon manifest (I) buttons are placed far away from WASD and the arrow keys (either set can be used for movement), which forces players to look down at their keyboard to find and press them. This can quickly lead to an unnecessary death in a fast-paced game such as this. If anyone has a game controller for their PC, I suggest using it instead of keyboard and mouse. It's also a good idea to turn off the awful soundtrack.
I applaud the fact that Over 9000 Zombies! was created by one person, because I'm sure it took a hell of a lot of work. Building barricades and turrets adds a welcome bit of variety, but it doesn't make gameplay deep enough to keep me interested for very long. Gamers who like to dominate leaderboards will appreciate the single-player mode, and I imagine that the side-by-side multiplayer mode will be a hit at parties.
Code provided by publisher. Available exclusively for PC.