Review by ToriAmos
"They baked the cake according to the recipe, but they forgot the frosting."
“Ghoul Patrol” is the largely unknown sequel to “Zombies Ate my Neighbors”. And, thus, it suffers from the same problems as any other sequel: lack of originality. While GP is a very fun game, it limps on the same wooden leg as every other game in a series. Fortunately, ZAMN had wonderful gameplay; and while that does not fully save GP, it makes it worthwhile and entertaining.
First off, the game has a weak plot, but it actually HAS a plot, so it’s one up from ZAMN: Zeke and Julie decide to recite a necromantic incantation, and in doing so unleash a hellish beast upon the land, and other lands in various points in time. Thus, our two heroes have to fix their bungling mistake by traveling in time and stopping the evil monsters wherever they may be.
You go to Four worlds with four levels each (three rescue levels and one boss): Present, Feudal Japan, Caribbean isle with pirates (but no natives, hmmm…), and Medieval Times. Then onto the final level: HELL ITSELF! It only has two levels (one rescue, one boss) and cannot be reached by password.
The gameplay is identical to ZAMN, and since I assume that if you are playing GP you have already played ZAMN, I will be brief: Monsters have taken over the world, save ten neighbors, don’t let them die, fight monsters, collect weapons and items yadda yadda yadda blah blah blah blah blah……
There are, however, minor subtleties that have been made that change the feel of the game. Firstly, your neighbor radar is gone. Instead, “HELP!” bubbles will come from off screen. You have to follow these bubbles to find the neighbors before the ghouls do. Since you no longer have an exact idea of a neighbors location now, it is a little more difficult to pinpoint their location, but finding them is, on the whole, no more harder. When all the neighbors in a level have been found, then the exit bubble comes from off screen, and you have to go hunt that down! A pain, yes, and you will lose health and ammo in the process, yes, but nothing so horrendous that you will smash your Super Nintendo.
Your neighbors are all new in this game, and they change with the world. Because I love you they are the following:
PRESENT: Bum, Artist, Old Man, Bellhop, Maid, Sleeping Dude
JAPAN: Geisha, Samurai, Peasant
CARIBBEAN: Bum, Pirate, Artist
MEDIEVAL: King, Lady, Knight, Prisoner
HELL: Old Man, Prisoner
They are just like the neighbors in ZAMN, they sit around and wait for you to save them. But this time they are worth more points from Bum (500) to King (8000). You will be raking in major points by the end of the game. But the biggest problem with the neighbors is the same as with most of the game: they aren’t funny. ZAMN is totally tongue-in-cheek. From cheerleaders to tacky tourists, ZAMN had silly neighbors who died silly deaths. GP’s neighbors are not only fully aware of the danger that surrounds them, but look very serious about their predicament. Now, logically speaking, they should be; but that perverse grotesque humor that made ZAMN so fun and funny is gone from our helpless little friends. Now you truly feel bad when one dies.
Weapons, like neighbors, lost their wacky edge in GP. ZAMN if you recall had everything from Martian guns to Bazookas to plates to tomatoes. Not only does GP have a much smaller range of weapons (a bit of a relief!), they are all actual weapons: a crossbow, a machine gun, a ray gun, a weird plasma-ball shooting gun, and a bazooka-like gun. Notice that they are all guns! None of which, by the way, seemed to have any visible difference when fighting monsters, though the biggest is presumably the strongest. The biggest perk is that the crossbow has infinite ammo, and thus you won’t be scrambling for a gun at any point in this game. But without the humorous weaponry like the soda cans or the Popsicles or the weed whacker, the game loses that dark comedy that made ZAMN so popular. The items, however, remain largely the same. A few were taken out and a new toxic potion was added, but that’s about it.
On to the enemies: the enemies in ZAMN were monsters taken from B-Horror Flicks. The giant ants from “THEM”, the chainsaw-wielding maniac of the “Friday the 13th series”, murderous little dolls like “Chuckie”, even the Blob! None of them make any appearance in GP! Except the zombies. But GP’s zombies are gross and evil, ZAMN had funny zombies in traditional zombie pose. The rest of GP’s monsters are equally humorless. Floating eyeballs, giant snails, flying undead (this one changes its look world to world, but the behavior is the same), they are faster, meaner, and harder to kill. This makes the game fun, but serious. and I know I am beating a dead horse, but the game is missing that humor! You will use your crossbow A LOT! And be prepared to run away, because sometimes there are just too many monsters. Especially since, the monsters come from regeneration points that will churn out more evil as you rescue neighbors.
At the end of each world is a boss. Each boss is virtually identical: a large, floating demon appropriate for the time that has two attacks: a melee weapon and a projectile. Both are a pain to dodge, and it would be in your best interest to chug a monster potion and set the “Y” button on Turbo. There are enough in the game if used in conjunction with the blue invincibility potion (which, by the way, now lets you also use a weapon!) Upon defeating the boss, neighbors will be teleported in for you to save. The exit will appear and you can move on.
The levels are similar to ZAMN. Large, winding, lots of doors, goodies in the drawers, its all here. Plus, there is also dangerous terrain; cars on the road in the present, open graves in the Caribbean, spikes everywhere in the castle, the world is dangerous enough without monsters! The structure is the same, though the look is different. But it worked in the first game, so it works here too.
“Ghoul Patrol” is fun, but it missing the camp and kitsch that made the first game, “Zombies Ate My Neighbors”, such a hit. Though it shouldn’t be, that humor is an integral part of the appeal of ZAMN, and for it to be so lacking, well that’s a shame.
The game is dark, for starters. Not dreary so much as it is darkly-colored. This adds a somber tone to the game, but makes it look so good! Zeke and Julie put on some real clothes in this game, and look way better for it. Characters are better rendered, sprite quality is good, everything in this game looks nice. And that is a good thing.
Nice Music, Nice sound effects. many of them taken from ZAMN, but who’s complaining. The music and the sounds blend nicely with the atmosphere of the game.
This game is hard. Swarms of monsters try to engulf you at every turn, and your neighbors keep dropping one by one, and you have to save your ammo for the later levels, and so much. This game is a challenge, with a password for the start of every world, or one every four levels. So try your best not to game over!
Replay value: 6/10
The problem with GP is that, since it is just a sequel, there is little reason to play it over unless you really loved ZAMN as well. ZAMN is fun to play over and over again because it still has a charm since it is the first game. GP, not so much.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the joy of ‘Zombies Ate My Neighbors’ is the comical tragedy of the game. Gruesome in a funny way. “Ghoul Patrol” doesn’t have that. It is serious, and that takes the wind out of the sails. It is still a good game, and it is still fun to play, but it is a sequel, and it is a good as you would expect a sequel to be.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 01/21/03, Updated 01/21/03
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