Bod of Stax released a game entitled "Zombie Apocalypse" in early Januray.
Zombie Apocalypse was originally an Amiga game released in 1992 by Vision
Software and Acid Software. The latter was also the author of the famous
Blitz Basic language on the Amiga, which is still developped today, albeit
in its Windows version. Apparently the Amiga game was even coded in Blitz
Basic and freely distributed as an example of what the language could
achieve. As a sidenote, this game and its sequel (aptly called "Zombie
Apocalypse 2") were banned in Germany at the time of their initial release
due to their violence.
When booting the floppy on your Atari, you are first presented with a
loading screen with a simple but nice-looking Stax logo and a funky
chiptune. Then the music changes to a spooky module, another Stax logo
appears, shortly followed by the title picture. A click on the left mouse
button, and you are in the game. The goal is to shoot at brainless
teenagers on their way to a Pop Idol/Fame Academy casting... hmmm, or they
might also be regular zombies, the story isn't really clear on that point.
The game is a first person shooter, but unlike such games currenly sold on
PC or consoles, here the player doesn't move, ennemies simply appear in
front of him. The controls are as easy as it can be: the cursor is
mouse-controlled and very responsive, the left button fire regular
bullets, and the right one more deadly grenades that clean every baddie
present on screen. Of course the zombies aren't queueing quietly to get
killed, but instead couter-attack, either with their bare hands, sticks,
or for the wealthy lot, grenades.
The graphics are clear but seem a bit on the dull side, and when comparing
screenshots of both the ST and the Amiga version, it's obvious some
details and colours have been lost in the conversion. Of course it's
unavoidable when the original Amiga graphics were good ones, as they were
for this game. On the other hand, the animation was quite primitive in the
original game -around 3 frames for every ennemy- and it remains the same
in its ST flavour. A nice touch is that you can actually see zombies
getting gradually more and more wounded (and more and more covered in blood)
as you shoot at them.
The different chiptunes sound good, but I really miss some sound effects.
There isn't any sound feedback either for firing a bullet, killing a
zombie, throwing grenades, or getting hit. Actually there's not a single
sound to be heard in the game and I think that stops you feeling fully
immersed. Maybe it was the same on the original game, or there were
technical issues to implement sound effects on the ST version.
The gameplay strikes me as very repetitive and to be honest, I didn't play
to the game too long as I became bored quickly (I also wanted to spare my
mouse, as Atari-compatible ones are getting hard to get those days). You
just keep on firing at the same five zombies, and especially the blue one
that goes from left to right appears every five seconds. Every three
levels or so, the background and the chiptune change, but the zombies seem
to remain the same (at least in the five first levels they do). But I
guess it was the same with the original game, so maybe the conversion is
too faithful on that point! Operation Wolf or Cabal, albeit having a
similar concept, managed to keep you playing by having either a scrolling,
civilians you had to avoid to shoot at or a two-player mode.
I also regret the game is just available as a disk image in a modified
format and there's no way to copy it on hard disk. I wouldn't have mind
storing Zombie Apocalypse in the "Games" folder of my hard disk, but can't
feel bothered with keeping it on floppy.
In a nutshell I would say Zombie Apocalypse is a good conversion of an
uninspired game. Nevertheless if you are into that kind of games, it will
certainly be a laugh. And even calm and peaceful persons may come to
appreciate it on bad days...
PS : Thanks must go to Shiuming Lai of MyAtari.net for the screenshot, for
some reason I couldn't get the game working on emulators.