Alien Zombie MegaDeath

Most videogame enthusiasts are at least aware of the character SonSon, from Marvel vs. Capcom 2, but  unlike the rest of that game's roster, few are aware of the game from which she originated. That game was an arcade platformer/shooter, titled SonSon, based on Son Wukong of Chinese myth. The game was similar to most Horizontal shooters of the time, with the exception that you could only fire while perched on a set of tiered platforms. The game is super-obscure, but it hasn't been completely forgotten, especially not by the folks at PomPom Games.

In 2010, PomPom released Alien Zombie Megadeath, a spiritual-successor of sorts to SonSon on the PSN. It's very reminiscent of SonSon, only more refined, and featuring much more variety in terms of objectives, and general gameplay. It also has the truly terrible title of Alien Zombie Megadeath. Makes me think they trying too hard.

Seriously. They're trying too hard.. And if anyone knows about trying too hard, it's Dave Mustaine.

Alien Zombie Megadeath (PSP, PS3, PC, Steam)
Developed by: PomPom Games
Published by: Sony, Valve
Released On:  Feb 18, 2010 (PSP) - Jun 20, 2011 (PS3) - Oct 18, 2011  (Steam) 

Despite it's internet pandering, almost meme-ish name, AZMD is solid fun. You take on the role of an anonymous spaceman with a laser-gun (the best kind) and are dropped into a multi-tiered arena, consisting of several long, parallel platforms, which are host to ever-spawning hordes of the eponymous "Alien Zombies". The enemies main strength is their numbers, and they can easily overwhelm you if you don't play a good keepaway game. Fortunately, evasion is easy and convenient, you can hop from one tier to the next by pressing up or down, to move one tier over, in you desired direction. You in fact have two fire buttons, one for left, and one for right. There is also a grab button, that allows you to grab things (gasp) such as bombs, and Space Babies.

Left: Alien Zombies Megadying   Right: Space Babies!

Gameplay consists of simply hopping from one tier to the next, shooting the various ''Alien Zombies'' you encounter into oblivion, while avoiding enemy swarms, and the occasional flaming enemy bullet launched your way. Your spaceman can sustain 3 strikes before he ''dies horribly'', as the game puts it. Stages don't scroll, as they did in SonSon, you are limited to a small arena, but that doesn't negate the challenge, at least not in the later stages. It's worth mentioning that this game has an excellent learning curve, easing you into the art science of megakilling Alien Zombies.

The game utilizes a chain-mechanic, by which a gauge fills for every enemy you megaslay. When the gauge is completely filled, you recieve a multiplier; The value of the chain is multiplied by how many gauges you've filled thus far. Making your enemies megadead will cause them to spill space crystals, which can be used to further increase you chain-gauge

"Two words combined that can't make sense" - Megadeth Lyrics, but also a description of their music.

The game consists of a rather vast variety of different gametypes, all revolving around the aforementioned basic gameplay, but with interesting twists:

Firefight - Basic gameplay that I've probably described three times by now. You hop around scaffolds and shoot things. Then they die -Sorry, MEGADIE. There is a set number of waves for each stage, which gets larger later in the game  A vast majority of the game's stages consist of this.

Dodge & Weave -The first alternate gametype you encounter; it's the same as firefight, only you have to avoid scrolling electrical force-fields that hurt you on contact. At first they're no problem, but it eventually becomes quite a pain in the ass to avoid them.

Space Baby Rescue - This is the first mode where your main goal isn't to megakill everything; instead you need to escort the Space Babies to an escape pod. It's kind of an oddity that the space babies arrive in another ship of some sort, only to wander to a second one, the escape-pod.  It is unknown why they couldn't stay in the first craft. PomPom didn't think things through, now did they?

Bomb Dump - Bomb Dump is similar to Space Baby Rescue, only instead of rescuing Space Babies by lugging them right to left, you have to defuse bombs by dropping them in some sort of defusing apparatus. The bombs have a timer, and are immobile, unlike the babies, so you have to carry them the whole way.

UFO - UFO is... different. groups of UFOs sly up and down along the sides of the stage, just out of reach. You have to shoot them down, a task that gets increasingly difficult as more and more obstacles get placed around in later stages.

Jet Pack - Jet Pack is a nice, relaxing gametype that gives you a jetpack, that you need to use to cross over an otherwise uncompromisable wall. You fly back and forth over the wall, megakilling all of the Alien Zombies on the stage. The Jet Pack has unlimited fuel, but you will lose it if you get hit by an Alien Zombie.

Decoy - Decoy, on the other hand is a hectic taste of space-hell. You are attacked by an overwhelming swarm of like, a thousand space bats, which can easily overcome you. The only way to save your ass is to activate a "Decoy Station", which will attract all of the enemies, because they apparently have poor eyesight. Once they're off your tail, you can murk on 'em.

And, don't worry, I'm not saying "mega" ever again.

Boss Battles -

You fight the same Boss several times. Guess you could say he's... Angry Again.... I'll stop.

Boss Battles are self-explanatory; you face a giant Alien Zombie, along with a posse' of normal enemies. The Boss will hover around the stage, shooting fireballs at you. Shooting the Boss enough will send it into an invincible cocoon-state. Shooting the cocoon will revert the Boss back to normal. Wash, rinse, repeat. Earning a mass quantity of medals will unlock Survival Boss Battles.

Each stage has four secondary objectives, such as megakilling a certain, arbitrary number of enemies, or collecting a specific quantity of space crystals. Completing one of these goals will net you a medal, which in turn unlocks several Survival stages, which are variations of normal gametypes with unlimited enemies. These include Survival Fire Fight, Survival Bomb Drop & Survival Space Baby Rescue, the mode that rolls off the tongue, as well as the aforementioned Survival Boss Battles. These stages follow the rules of their respective namesakes, but they take on the form of endurance runs.

This is why I don't take the subway.

AZMD also boasts several classic, archetypical power-ups; the stuff you'd expect: There's the aptly named 3-Way Shot, which allows you to fire three shots at once, one forward, and two at 45 degrees, up and down. There's a Laser Shot which, obviously replaces your standard gun with a constant stream of energized light, and lastly, there's Missiles, which can be fired with reckless abandon, because they home in on enemies. These are great for dealing with mass-orgies of Space Bats.

What's that? You want to watch me flaunt my average gaming prowess in this game?


Well fuck you:

Multiplayer - But wait, there's more! Although it lacks a proper co-operative mode, Alien Zombie Megadeath does offer a series of dedicated multiplayer stages that you and a friend can dominate. These stages are just more variations of the aforementioned Survival stages. Except you're playing with someone else. Just kill all of the enemies, and last as long as possible. You share a lifebar, though, so, if you die, you're letting the whole team down.

<A Multiplayer video will be available tonight>

You can buy a copy of Alien Zombie Megadeath here at PomPom games' site.

Or you can get it on PS3. Or PSP. Or Steam.

Or I-phone.

Apple IIe version coming soon.

1 comment:

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