Physics and zombies were concepts that shone brightly in the Browser Games era. Do they still hold up in 2019? Find out in our Zombotron review.
Flash games raised me as a kid. As I stated in my Hollow Knight article a couple of months back, they were great examples of care and passion. And it is thanks to this passion that current developers are getting bigger and better. Case in point: today’s video game. Coming from a franchise that I used to love as a teenager, does one of the front page titles of Armor Games still holds up? Well, drop those crates onto that bug, because this is our Zombotron review.
Anton Karlov, the original mind behind the Zombotron saga, loves physics. If you take a look around at his Flash games on Armor Games, you can tell it’s his main go-to feature. But it was with Zombotron that he achieved what he always wanted to craft: a physics-based 2D platformer. As stated by him in an interview for the YouTube channel 2 Left Thumbs:
I had long dreamed of making a platformer with realistic physics. But to develop it from scratch would take a lot of time. And there’s always the risk of getting stuck in technical difficulties.
Due to this, he started with small titles until he achieved enough knowledge to start creating his dream. But after three Zombotron browser games, the game finally came out on PC for the first time. And at times, the jump to a fully-fledged video game can be a mixed experience. Luckily for us, this is not the case. Except in some slight issues concerning checkpoints and loot, the experience is smooth as jazz. But how is said experience? Glad you asked.
Ash, we are not in Kansas anymore
In Zombotron we take control of Blaze Rush, a name so stupidly badass that you just can love it. Alongside his fellow AI companion Ash, they crash into a mysterious planet overruled by deadly zombie-like creatures. And that’s the overall main plot of Zombotron: find a way to escape the planet. If you played the old titles you should know by now what to expect. But if you are new to this, know that Zombotron is a really tough 2D action platformer. Enemies will give you no quarter, and you will surely die a couple of times. Shooting enemies feels great and making barrels and structures crush them is even better. And of course, there’s the Zombomobile.
You can only drive this beast on a couple of levels, but man does it feels amazing to drive it. You crush zombies and aliens like nothing while shooting with a turret at anything that survives being hit by this mechanical monster. Although the levels we use the Zombomobile on are pretty short, they are a fantastic experience that I sure hope to see on a sequel. But now, we have to address the little things that make this game a little disappointing: the loot and the checkpoints.
Equip Helmet of Patience
Back in the good old days of Zombotron 1 and 2, finding secrets was something rewarding. Stranding from the regular path only to find a breakable wall with a new weapon or better gear was always followed by a ‘nice’. Sadly, this is the moment in which this entry falls a little bit on the mediocre side of things, and that’s all thanks to the random equipment given as a reward.
While it is not too hard to find these hidden areas, the items that we find within can be really lackluster. It’s not really encouraging to keep looking for secrets when the equipment given to us is way worse than the one we have already equipped. It also adds insult to injury having a really small inventory to store our items, which makes us consume health items in order to have empty slots to pick something new. We can sell the things we don’t want to have though, yet this is also slightly useless due to vending machines having really crappy equipment.
Now, checkpoints are something that can also be quite a pain. Aside from having to find them on the levels and activating them, these are limited. Die too many times and you have to do the entire level all over again. And considering the fact that you can get obliterated by enemies with ease, some levels are going to feel really tedious at times.
I might have made this review short, but there’s really nothing much to say about Zombotron. It’s a fun, short title that will make you giggle a couple of times with some deaths and moments. The bosses are just a test of how many bullets can you put inside of a giant creature (the final boss ends before you know it). However, despite this and the other nitpicks I mentioned, I have some high hopes for this saga to keep going better and bigger. Driving the Zombomobile is a blast, cracking the skull of your enemies with a plank of wood, finding secrets… All these things make Zombotron an enjoyable experience from beginning to end. Could it be better? Of course, no game is perfect, yet in this day and age short yet fun experiences are not quite abundant.