Little Red RidingHood’s Zombie BBQ Review (DS)

Proof positive that adding zombies makes everything better


With the countless tens of thousands of video games in existence,  even the most diligent gamers may constantly miss some really good games that simply go under the radar.

By now, the Nintendo DS has one of the most expansive game library in history, making the task of finding diamonds in the rough in its library even more difficult. Let me save you some trouble – Little Red Ridinghood’s Zombie BBQ is just such a diamond in the rough. Produced by a small Spanish developer with very little to their name, this gem went largely unnoticed, so let’s correct that here and now – this is hands down one of the best shooters on the DS.

Premise

Little Red Riding Hood’s Zombie BBQ is an Ikari Warriors style vertical scrolling shooter where you play as an overly busty-for-really-no-reason Little Red Riding Hood or her equally oddly placed Asian friend, Momotaro [who is now a ninja] and progress through classic children fairy tale lands that have become infested with the living dead and their evil overlords, the big bad wolf, the three little pigs, santa and more. Seriously, if that last sentence alone isn’t convincing you that this game is awesome, I don’t think anything will. Without a doubt, best. Premise. Ever.

Story

Once upon a time, zombies invaded fairy tale land, so two extreme zombie killing heroes, Little Red Ridinghood and her Asian friend, peach-boy Momotaru (yes, that Momotaru), joined forces to put an end to the zombie threat. I wish I could blame this plot line on some weird localization, but not this time.

Graphics

The visuals are a mixed bag. Yet another 3D-pusher on the DS, Zombie BBQ sometimes bites off more than it can chew and suffers slowdown because of it. Despite the 3D engine, there’s still quite a few completely 2D sprites involved which can look downright awful up close. There are many nice looking particle effects and character sprites are large enough to be distinctive and instantly recognizable, an important trait in any game of this type. There’s constantly things going on on both screens, which act together to form one tall screen. Like other DS games to take this approach, there occasionally can be enemies and projectiles that are hidden in the “dead zone” between the two screens, but it’s not nearly as big of a problem as it might have been had the game not been auto scrolling.

Audio

There really isn’t anything that pops out about the audio in game. There’s a small pool of voice samples thrown in that are cheesy, goofy and wildly inappropriate, like Riding Hood’s voice being that of a submissive sounding french-maid as she wields a machine gun to mow down zombies.

The music tracks are all rock riffs that sound pleasant to listen to, even if they are slightly uninspired and almost generic in nature. The best track in the game is the titlescreen/intro theme, posted below for your listening pleasure.

Gameplay

From the get-go, it’s pretty obvious that the development team over at EnjoyUp are fans of oldschool virtual scrolling shooters like Commando and Ikari Warriors. Zombie BBQ feels like a spiritual successor to those classic titles.

Gameplay consists of blasting hordes of zombies in an on-rails, auto scrolling shooter. Your character reminds at the very bottom of the touch screen while enemies advance towards you starting at the top screen. You cannot move forwards of backwards, but the game does allow you to switch between any of the seven grid points on the very bottom of the screen. As the game advances, some grids become filled with moving enemies, obstucting your movement and making the game much more challenging than you might think this kind of game might be.

Although your default weapon, either a machine gun or throwing stars have an endless ammo supply, as you play, you will gain sub-weapon powerups like a shotgun, flamethrower and powerful piercing laser that will help you get out of sticky situations. Bosses often take up almost both screens entirely and require quite a bit of skill to defeat.

Control

Touch screen action games are made or broken based on how well they control, and I’m happy to report that Little Red Ridinghood’s Zombie BBQ  has excellent controls.

The game requires you to use the stylus and the d-pad at once, but luckily there’s a left-handed configuration that allows the stylus and the Y and A buttons to be used instead for left-handed gamers such as myself. It really works great.

Touch Screen: Fire in the direction of the touch, double tap to launch gernade, touch tap on character to duck, swipe at enemies to preform melee attack
D-pad: Movement left/right
Y: Move left
A: Move right
Start: Pause
All other buttons: unused
Start: Pause
Back: Unused

Frustration

Even on the easiest difficulty setting, Zombie BBQ is no cakewalk. This game is oldschool hard in every sense of the term. You can’t take many hits, you loose weapons gained after you do die, and the bosses get to be brutally difficult. The third stage boss is particularly annoying as you have to fight him in three different forms, and should you die you have to restart back at the first form again. I normally would shy away from such a suggestion, but you might want to consider investing in an Action Replay or other cheat device for your DS just so you can see the ending of this one. It really is that tough.

Availability & Price

The game is a little uncommon, but you should be able to find it if you look hard enough. I paid just $8 for my copy, which is a perfect price for a game of this nature. It can also be found on the DSiWare service for DSi and 3DS for around the same price. Just keep in mind that you won’t be able to use the Action Replay should you buy a digital copy.

History

Developed by small Spanish developer EnjoyUp who at present, only have four game titles to their name, Zombie BBQ was only the second game the developer produced.

Heavily influenced by classic shooters such as Ikari Warriors and to some extent Super C, Little Red Ridinghood’s Zombie BBQ received mixed reviews for it’s oldschool, arcade style approach.

Two years after it’s North American debut, the title was planned to be released in Europe under the new simpler title Zombi BBQ, and the boxart as you can see, looked nothing short of amazing.

Sadly, it was decided by the powers to be that the physical European cartridge version be canceled and released in Europe only as a digital download on the DSiWare service.

A short time later, the digital copy would appear in the North American DSiWare store as well.

Original Advertising

Original trailer for Zombie BBQ, just it is as ridiculously fun as it looks.

Overall

Good

  • A story so completely absurd you can’t help but love it
  • Just look what they did to Little Red Riding Hood!
  • Fairly impressive graphics considering the hardware
  • Simple, effective controls that mostly work for left handed gamers as well as right

Bad

  • Incredibly difficult and unforgiving
  • Some minor slowdown and very ugly sprite/3D polygon mixing in some parts of the game
  • Most special weapons have very little ammo
  • Left handed players are at a slight disadvantage. The Y & A buttons just don’t feel as natural as left & right on the d-pad

Conclusion

With three difficulties, two playable characters, and 21 stages, Zombie BBQ should last any shooter fan for quite a while. The game is punishingly difficult, but a helluva lotta fun.

Zombie BBQ is a fun, interesting and downright sexy revival of the classic shooter genre on the DS. Everything about the game works, from the touch controls to the duel-screen gameplay. Efforts such as this should be wholeheartedly applauded in order to keep this dying genre alive. Go out and pick this one up. As bad as the visuals get though, all is forgiven once you look again at what EnjoyUp did to “little” red ridinghood! As the image above proves, awesome cosplay makes everything better.

Data

Platform: Nintendo DS, DSiWare

Genre: Virtual Shoot ‘em Up

Release Date: October 21, 2008, sometime in 2010 (Europe)

Developer: EnjoyUp

Publisher: Destineer

Also from the developer: Not much else noteworthy

Also try: Ikari Warriors (Arcade), Commando, Super C

Game Length: ~3-4 hours

ESRB: T, evidently for tits.

Buy/Skip: Buy

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