If you haven’t noticed by now, then we’re just going to have to come right out and say it: zombies are popular. There’s no real way to trace the resurgence that zombies have had in popular culture, but it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. That being the case, there have been a whole lot of video games featuring zombies in the past few years, some of which have been much better than others. Then there are some games that zombies seem to have been squeezed into just to make people buy them. That’s exactly what Zombie Skape is.
If you played Crazy Hunter, then the first thing you’ll notice is that Zombie Skape looks very similar. From the grainy character sprites and tinny audio quality to the vertical level design that spans both of DSi’s screens, it’s clear that Zombie Skape is just a re-skin of the previous game. Rather than making an entirely new game, EnjoyUp decided to take its old title and change the plot to shoehorn zombies into it, resulting in an equally shallow experience.
Your goal in this game is to escape from your zombie-infested town on a skateboard while also saving helpless women. Why the women are helpless is not entirely clear, nor is your reason behind taking a skateboard with you rather than a car. Or a gun. You control your character, a rad dude named Ethan, by pressing left or right on the DSi’s D-Pad while pressing B causes you to ollie, and Y makes you brake. Ethan moves forward on his own, so all you need to concentrate on is avoiding zombies and other obstacles that might get in your way.
At the start of each game you're given three hearts for each of your lives. The number of hearts you have determines how many obstacles you can hit before losing a life and starting the level over. Once you’re completely out of lives, then it’s game over and you’re sent back to the beginning. There are three different difficulty levels in Zombie Skape, but rather than making the stages any more or less demanding, they instead adjust the number of lives you start the game with.
There are eight different stages, all of which remain exactly the same with each playthrough. From enemy placement to the number of women who need rescuing, nothing changes each time you boot the game up. Playing through all eight levels will take you no more than ten minutes; even less time if you bother to memorise the game’s patterns. There is a local leaderboard, but because your score is based on how many women you rescue, you only get to enter your initials once you’ve completed all eight levels. For an arcade-style score based game, the local-only leaderboard and repetitive gameplay kick this one right where it counts, eliminating any reason to play it again once you’re gotten the top score.
Though Zombie Skape and Crazy Hunter both look very similar, the one thing EnjoyUp has managed to fix here is the controls. Rather than having your character move wildly about the screen whenever you try to make the slightest turning motion, Ethan actually responds well to your inputs. Almost everything else in this package may be an utter letdown, but the controls function well, making this a playable game.
What EnjoyUp essentially did here is take Crazy Hunter, a game so bad that it’s nearly unplayable, and turn it into a much more playable, yet still pretty bad game. Though Zombie Skape is meant to reflect arcade games by recording your high scores, the repetitive nature of gameplay and lack of any variety with each playthrough diminish this, and makes repeat performances much less enjoyable than they should be. While Zombie Skape functions and does what it sets out to do, you’ll be hard-pressed to get any lasting enjoyment out it.