Game Review

Zombie Panic in Wonderland Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Sean Aaron

Beware the zombies of luuurve

Love and zombies aren't normally associated with each other — except possibly a love of eating brains — but in Akaoni Studio's Zombie Panic in Wonderland the titular enemies are all about hugging people to death in the fairy-tale setting of Wonderland.

In the main Story mode you'll find yourself in the role of Momotaro the Peach Boy, a character of Japanese mythology, and eventually encounter Dorothy from Baum's Wizard of Oz and Snow White of Grimm fame as you try to stop the spread of "amorous zombies" throughout Wonderland.

As this is an arcade-style shooter, the means of stopping zombies is to blast them to oblivion. The gameplay is reminiscent of arcade classics Cabal and Blood Bros. and, closer to home, Shootanto: Evolutionary Mayhem on WiiWare. Players use the pointer to shoot enemies and background objects whilst moving an on-screen character who must avoid enemy fire — and embrace — to survive through a total of nine stages, divided into three levels thematically related to playable characters.

Zombie Panic offers a fun arcade-style experience thanks to some decent level design: enemies come in waves, but never feel too overwhelming due to responsive controls and a clever use of destructible scenery which not only provides additional ammo for your secondary weapons, but can be used against the zombie hordes. Shoot down a tree or wall of a building with zombies nearby and they'll get clobbered by it, in addition to explosive scenery bits that dispatch nearby foes more directly. You won't get too much extra ammunition for your secondary weapons so you'll want to reserve your heavy machine gun, flame thrower and RPG for later parts of each stage when you'll find yourself facing larger numbers of enemies and tougher foes like undead sumo wrestlers.

Although there are only a few levels, it won't be a walk in the enchanted park due to some rather tough opposition. Initially you're confronted with some bog-standard brain, uh, huggers, who just amble towards you and can be dispatched by a few shots to the head, but it won't be long before you're faced with zombies that hurl rocks, shuriken-flinging jumping ninja zombies and dive-bombing crows amongst others. Many of these foes are repeated and re-skinned to match new scenery, but the variety of designs keeps things from getting stale.

If you get hit you lose a life, so you'll want to keep moving and learn to use that dodge button to avoid attacks. Though you can only move left and right, each stage is wider than your display and pretty much everything you can see can be destroyed: from trees and fences in the foreground to distant castle minarets — something to keep in mind when you're facing increasing numbers of zombies, and are wishing you had more ammo for your heavy machine gun. Keep in mind you can't really afford to lollygag about because you have a time limit to clear each level, so be sure to keep your focus on the undead rather than redecorating the vicinity with bullet holes!

Boss fights lack the time limit because they're challenging enough on their own, with each one matching the theme of the level. Whilst the boss for the first Japanese-themed level was fun, featuring destructible parts that caused it to gradually transform and change attack styles, the later bosses aren't quite as interesting; combined with the fact that boss stages have less scenery to destroy, they started to drag on a bit, unfortunately. Once you've finished Story Mode you can try it again at an increased difficulty or play completed stages on their own in Arcade Mode, where you'll discover an extra stage to play that's not present in the main story. There's a local leaderboard with the top five scores, but though Story and Arcade modes have score counters there's nothing to indicate which of these are represented in the Ranking table; nor do you get to put up any initials to indicate whose scores they are, which will be disappointing if you're also a big fan of co-op play.

Though the characters have no bearing on gameplay, it's still cool that Dorothy and Snow White are made available to play with after you encounter them in Story Mode and all three characters have additional skins to unlock. The anime-inspired character designs are one of biggest strengths of Zombie Panic in Wonderland, especially as seen in amusing cut scenes composed of a mix of still images and text. In-game graphics and animation are nicely done, even if some of the zombie sound effects got a bit repetitive. The soundtrack deserves special mention as it complements the various stages and is surprising in its diversity: from traditional-sounding Japanese songs to pop-metal guitar and brooding cinematic pieces. Though the rest of the game is competently executed, it's the bags of charm contained within that gets it a solid recommendation from us.


It's fair to say that without the care and attention put into the design and audio-visual presentation of the game we'd have thought it was merely okay, but seeing Snow White saucily swishing her way to the next zombie massacre makes up for shortcomings elsewhere. Arcade fans looking for something irreverent and over-the-top are advised to stock up on zombie repellent and download this one for some shooting fun!

From the web

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User Comments (66)



V8_Ninja said:

You'd think something that combined Time Crisis (the time limit) and Sin & Punishment (gameplay-wise) would come out as a winner, but I guess it comes out as above average.



pixelman said:

Graphics look pretty cool, but it doesn't look like something I'd pay 1000 points for.



Sneaker13 said:

I really love this game and it's especially impressive that this is a WiiWare title.



Shiryu said:

Hmm... I was looking forward to this one, but now ill have to rethink my life...after all, "Sin & Punishment 2" is around the corner...



Raylax said:

"Beware the zombies of luuurve
Love and zombies aren't normally associated with each other — except possibly a love of eating brains — but in Akaoni Studio's Zombie Panic in Wonderland the titular enemies are all about hugging people to death in the fairy-tale setting of Wonderland."

Why am I reminded of Zelda?



AVahne said:

Cute little game. Even if the 1000 points might be a bit much, theres enough for me. If this comes out in the USA tomorrow or the monday after that, then I'll buy it, if not I'll just buy Muscle March instead of getting more points for this



GiantPooka said:

Agreeing with Scottie and tealovertoma- the review doesn't really say what's wrong with the game. It says that the charm 'makes up for shortcomings elsewhere' but never says what those shortcomings are, save for a complaint about later bosses and the ranking screen. Perhaps some elaboration is in order.

For the record, I really liked the game, but that's because I absolutely love games of this type like Cabal.



Scottie said:

Wonder what score you would give it (when you get to play it of course lol).



Egg_miester said:

looks like the natives are a little restless with the score sadly this game isn't quite what i was hoping for but never less if it comes out tomorrow i'll buy it zombies make everything better



Omega said:

This is the problem with review scores in today's internet magazines. So many people just look at the number at the end of an article and say "This game is something of little value or quality" or "Thiz gam3z totally awzom3".

Why not read the words in the article, watch some videos of the game on your favourite video portal and build your own opinion?

I would also suggest that NL introduces a reader rating system, where each user can enter his/her own score and the average is displayed at the end of the article. Just like on GameFAQs. Would that be so difficult?
thanks, Omega :3 -- TBD



GiantPooka said:

@Omega - Honestly, I wouldn't mind a 7 being given to this game, or to any game as long as it's backed up somehow.

It's juist that there's absolutely no criticism in the review at all, so the only real judgement people can use is the big 7 at the end, which isn't justified by the text, which is baffling. And this alone is enough to put people off, which is a shame.



Luigi-la-bouncy said:

@climber I do agree with this 7. It's a very good game.

Wierd huh?

It would be a lot more fun if it had online leaderboards. That would have pushed the reviewer's score up I'm sure.



Kaeobais said:

I kind of expected an 8 at least, but I won't be getting this anyways. Gotta save for Runner



citizenerased said:

@GiantPooka: Thanks for further explaining my sentiments; I assume you've played/beaten it as well then? Any criticism to add apart from the aforementioned bosses and leaderboards (and perhaps the 1000 points price tag)?

Also, does anyone know how many hours it takes to complete?



climber said:

@ tealovertoma - Playing alone, I took 4 hours to see the ending, and at least 9 hours to get the 7 characters and hidden stage



BlueFlameBat said:

Kinda short. How's the replay value? Personally, I'd like a Wii remake of the SNES game Wild Guns, but you already know that, don't you?

I'm making a point to quit obsessing about this game and remakes of Wild Guns. I'm not making any promises though.



Sean_Aaron said:

I was initially leaning towards an 8, but the 2nd boss fight was pretty tedious as well as the 3rd one. I suppose I could have beat up on the game more in that paragraph about how I thought the developers had run out of steam, but I didn't feel that was necessary.

It all comes down to a combination of the game's length and unevenness in the fun delivery. Sorry if that wasn't clear enough, but a seven is a good score, and I don't feel like getting overly negative in a good review for a game. I also don't start out my scoring with a ten and tick a point off here and there - this isn't a science people, and for the record I don't like scoring reviews full stop.



GiantPooka said:

@tealovertoma - I've beaten it about four times now and still haven't finished the extra stage. If there's anything to complain about it would be the length- 45 minutes, if you don't get stuck. It's the perfect arcade game length, though, so it doesn't get too monotonous, and it's very moreish, but any longer and I would've given up. There's a few silly design decisions here and there too (you have to cycle through weapons one-by-one). Anyone who likes the genre though should definitely try it.

@Sean Aaron - Thansks for your reply, and thanks for clearing that up I know what you mean about not wanting to be too harsh, but I think had you been more clear in the review, there wouldn't be an issue at all. Now that you have clarified, I can see why you gave it that score. And scoring reviews is a tricky business, especially when it's out of 10!



citizenerased said:

Fair enough, thanks for clearing that up, Sean. And really, NintendoLife should be proud about how fast they've got reviews up (especially on WiiWare games) since you practically can't get reviews on the European version anywhere else.

I'll be picking this up pretty soon



Jon2 said:

A good little game. I really like it and I think it's worth the 1000 points price tag. I haven't been able to unlock the other costumes though.



Sneaker13 said:

I just beaten it. The first boss was awesome, too bad the other bosses aren't that great and change their attacks. I loved how almost everything in the game can be destroyed and that there is a great variety in enemies. Too bad they didn't release it as a retail game and add a lot of levels. They could do a lot with al the different fairytales. My favorite so far. Santa. That was just awesome.



Sean_Aaron said:

Yeah, I was thinking a more fleshed-out retail release could be excellent too. Maybe we'll get a sequel if it does well?




This was a very, very good wiiware shooter. Close to Onslaught and Wild West Guns in my estimation and opinion. 8/10 all the way for me, though no where near a 9 of course.



imapterodactyl said:

Decent game, but in response to the first post by V8 Ninja, it plays NOTHING like Sin and Punishment. I played through the story once, and I suppose I'd say the game deserves a 7. It's downfall is it's monotony, as it gets very repetitive rather quickly. If you're looking for this type of game on Wiiware, there's already Shootanto, which I found to be a lot more varied and fun. This game has nice presentation, but Shootanto tops it in gameplay.



Megaace said:

I think it is a very funny game. Technically is impresive, with perfect controls and some of the best graphics on Wiiware. And you can play it with the zapper if you want. It is like a classic coin-op and perfect to play a few minutes. I give it an 8 and recomend it to all the people that like classic arcade games.



Scottie said:

Thanks for the feedback folks, one last question is it worth getting for the single player mode alone as 1000 points is a big outlay? I don't normally get this style of game that's all!



Sean_Aaron said:

£7 is a big outlay? Well, I think it's worthwhile obviously...co-op play is just a bonus, not like it's a separate game mode or anything. You get a story mode that took me a few hours to get through and then arcade mode to play to your heart's content. Actually I think Story Mode is more arcade like, because you just progress through all the stages until you run out of lives.



Scottie said:

Thanks for that Sean, you have sold it to me! £7 is a big outlay to me though with a missus and ten month old baby at home! lol Great review by the way, i was being picky about the score business.



Sean_Aaron said:

I don't mind pickiness about the scores. I suggest folk just read the guidelines; I often go with my gut reaction to a game - sometimes a game is "good" rather than "excellent" ya know?



Gizmo said:

@ V8 Ninja (#1): "You'd think something that combined Time Crisis (the time limit) and Sin & Punishment (gameplay-wise) would come out as a winner, but I guess it comes out as above average."

Above average would be a 6, not a 7 .



MVP said:

For me, is one of the best games on WiiWare, If you like action, this is like oeeeeeeeee!!!!!



NuYu said:

Definitely gonna get this, but I'm a sucker for rail-shooters, so I just have to.



Biggetje said:

I downloaded the game yesterday.
Really funny game; just shoot at everything and anything on the screen
The characters are funny as well!



Rerun said:

1000 points feels a bit steep. I wish the selectable characters had some differences. Characters with varied stats/skills always make a game better.



Vinsanity said:

Great warm-up for Sin & Punishment. Though I'm a little disappointed that it's single-screen shooting gallery like Cabal. I thought it would be more like "shoot, run forward, shoot", but it's still cool:) And gorgeous. It's so nice to see an actual, "effort went into this" sorta Wiiware game. Considering we've just come off of several weeks of cheaply done, forgettable puzzle games.



xCapt said:

no one mentioned that its not compatible w/ the wii zapper due to the A button being the granade launcher. you can find a way, but its not intuitive. bosses after “pheasant dooog mon?!” are definitely uninspired (downright boring). wish it had online leader board and a way to actually save your initials w/ high scores. however, the game is still pretty darn cool. i would say its in the 7-8 range. lots of charm. played through entire game, unlocked everything that i know of.



Haydengamer said:

I been wanting a zombie game on the wii that has guns. I might get it when I get wi-fi connection.



Splat said:

Love it!!! The look and feel of the game is great some what repetitive but all and all a good game. It's a little harder at parts then I though it would be but that is a plus for me.



Bass_X0 said:

this isn't a science people, and for the record I don't like scoring reviews full stop.

There should be at least some correlation between the review text and the score. The score is the whole review condensed into a single number. So a score that doesn't reflect the review stands out to everyone as being wrong. And scores are important when you're looking through the lists of games for a good one. Nobody has the time to read every review written here so we have to depend on the score to see if a game is worth bothering to read the review of first. I wouldn't bother reading the review of say, a 4/10 game because the score tells me its not worth my time.



Zork2 said:

Got it and I was not disappointed. This game is pretty hilarious. Can't wait to play with a friend.



Rarewarefan7495 said:

This game has more in common with Wild Guns rather than Sin and Punishment. It's a solid game but my only problem is that the crosshair is really small so it's hard to shoot far away enemies. IMO this deserves a 8/10 and it's worth your time.



LittleIrves said:

Just played the demo... and was at once impressed by the presentation and worried about the gameplay's potential for shallowness. If this was 600 points I'd buy. At 1000.... I'm not sure....



dings said:

I downloaded this demo and didn't much care for it!

The way enemies came at you and how you could only move back and forth it was like Space Invaders 3D with zombies and much lower difficulty!



MeloMan said:

I have to admit, I rather enjoyed the demo. Me and my friend are suckers for rail shooters, zombies, and co-op play so we might just split the bill at 500pts and play the full version.

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