Today is Friday the 13th. This is considered an infamous day that may bring bad luck and misfortunes more than your average day. This next game could not be reviewed on a better day. Ghoul Patrol is the unnamed “sequel” to Zombies Ate My Neighbors, one of my favorite two player SNES games back in the day. Growing up, Ghoul Patrol was one of those games I always wanted to play but never did. I finally quelled that curiosity seven years ago (October 2010). I wish I could say it was a worthy follow-up but sadly, it falls a bit short of that. It’s not terrible or even bad by any means, but it’s a rather forgettable effort that should have been so much more.
ZOMBIES ATE MY NEIGHBORS
In the fall of 1993, Zombies Ate My Neighbors thrilled 16-bit gamers and proved that there are few things more satisfying than killing zombies and mummies alongside your best friend. ZAMN graced the covers of gaming magazines, earned high scores and accolades, and there was no end in sight to its popularity. It became something of a cult classic. A two player zombie romp, players were madly thrust into numerous B-movie inspired levels battling mutant spiders, werewolves, evil dolls, martians, chainsaw wielding masked maniacs and even a towering titanic toddler. It was a brilliant pastiche of various gaming genres; hell, you could even say survival horror. Along the way there’s plenty of camp, gags and dark humor that endeared itself to gamers all around the world. Not only was it one of the best SNES games released in 1993, some say it’s one of the best (two player) SNES games ever made.
Containing over 50 levels of sheer mayhem, I love how each level has a clever name of sorts. This one, I Was A Chainsaw Maniac, is my favorite one. Set in a giant crate factory, you must locate several keys in order to rescue cheerleaders and drooling babies. It sounds easy until you factor in all the unrelenting masked maniacs out to get them (and you)! Nothing gets the pulse beating quite like hearing the revving of chainsaws in the air and seeing two burly mad men give chase as you zip, bob, dodge and weave through the hellish factory! Good times.
Back in the day, my best friend Nelson and I played the crap out of this game. We would huddle around my 27 inch Sony TV, shouting and laughing. Such was the diverse range of emotions ZAMN delivered. One second you could be bowling over in laughter at the slightly perverse humor, and the very next second screaming in pure anguish as innocent lives perish at the hands of the various monsters. I can’t think of too many games that takes you on such a wild roller coaster ride as this one does. It’s still good as a one player game but the real magic happens with two. Even to this day, it’s one of the most beloved games on the SNES. Like the many horror movies it freely borrows from, Zombies Ate My Neighbors has developed quite the cult following over the past quarter century. I can’t help but smile whenever this game happens to cross my mind. It just reminds me of a simpler time. A time where you and your best pal spent the weekends gaming and didn’t have to worry about bills or work. Needless to say, a sequel sure would have a LOT to live up to.
A “spiritual sequel” of sorts to Zombies Ate My Neighbors, Ghoul Patrol features Zeke and Julie in a brand new adventure. I was so curious about Ghoul Patrol back in 1994 but I never got to play it. One vivid memory of Ghoul Patrol that stands out to me to this day came some time in 1995. I was at Software Etc. when I spotted this game marked at the low price of $19.99 — all the other SNES games were $50+. I couldn’t believe my eyes! I even flagged down an employee to confirm. “Is Ghoul Patrol really selling for just twenty bucks?” The clerk nodded. At a time when SNES games were going for $49.99 up to $79.99, $19.99 just seemed crazy! Unfortunately, I didn’t capitalize on the deal but I remember going home that day with the game on my mind. I mean, being the “sequel” to Zombies Ate My Neighbors, it was already on my mind. But on top of that, $20?! My young mind rationalized that maybe the game had only like three levels… I don’t know… like a “shareware” version or something. Or worse — what if the game totally blows? I remember thinking immediately, “No way. That’s just crazy talk!” Fast forward some 15 years to October 2010. I finally played Ghoul Patrol. While it doesn’t totally blow, a big part of me is glad I never got to play it back in the day. I’m not sure 11 year old me would have been able to handle the disappointment…
THE STORY GOES…
THE GHOUL PATROL
The first game had a ton of weapons and they were all rather silly which added to the zany campy fun. Chucking silverware and tomatoes aren’t exactly serious weapons. In Ghoul Patrol though, you only have five weapons and there’s no humor behind any of them. But due to having only five weapons, you thankfully don’t have to scroll through 87 weapons. Another good thing: the crossbow has unlimited arrows. Ammo in Zombies Ate My Neighbors was always an issue of concern but never here in Ghoul Patrol.
WORLD ONE: THE METROPOLIS
Although the victims aren’t as charming as the neighbors in the first game, this unlucky old bloke is quite a hoot. Some folks just have all the (bad) luck, eh?
Each world contains three or four stages followed by a gigantic boss. This is another big difference from the first game. Ghoul Patrol is much more straight forward while Zombies Ate My Neighbors had all sorts of secrets. The somewhat stiff control makes a clean boss fight sadly suicidal. Thus, boss battles are of the gimpy “consume invincible potion and hack away” sort. The first boss is a towering robotic warhead. Use your items to defeat him.
WORLD TWO: ANCIENT CHINA
Each time period has its own unique victims. As stated earlier, they’re just not as charming as they were in the first game. They’re just… kinda there. Sure it’s a small thing but it all adds up in the end.
When keys run low, the time taken to secure the next one can make all the difference between life and death. Although you should be fine on keys if you’re playing from level one. If you’re continuing off a password however, then all bets are off. The enemy AI here isn’t as relentless as it was in the first game. Those samurai skeletons are pretty savvy but most other enemies kind of just meander around, even with victims in the vicinity. A bit odd but it benefits the player for sure.
The second boss is the Demon Warlock. The bosses definitely look nasty but they’re all essentially the same. Time to power up!
WORLD THREE: CRAZY CARIBBEAN
WORLD FOUR: MEDIEVAL MADNESS
A friend can join the fray. As a one player game, I find Ghoul Patrol more manageable than Zombies Ate My Neighbors. Not saying I like the “sequel” better but the enemies aren’t as ruthless at killing victims, so I actually get more game time out of the one player mode in Ghoul Patrol than I do in ZAMN. Two player mode is fun but it doesn’t hold a candle to two player ZAMN. And as you can see here, the later jumps in Ghoul Patrol get a bit ridiculous! It certainly put a damper on things as the jumps bring back haunting flashbacks of NES Double Dragon…
After defeating Sir Raleigh MacSpirit, you’re off to the final world: Ghosts and Demons Land! It’s a world flowing with lava, Grim Reapers and that “funky Demon dude” that you’ve unleashed from an eternal slumber.
GAME OVER, MAN!
Zombies Ate My Neighbors featured a purple slime sliding down the screen whenever you Game Over. It was supposed to be red for blood but Nintendo nixed that. Ghoul Patrol has a black slime rolling down. Hey, at least it kept to tradition somewhat.
ZEKE’S BIG ADVENTURE
I instantly fell in love with Pee Wee’s Big Adventure when I first saw it back in the late ’80s. It’s a bit kooky to say the least — it’s got chills, thrills and plenty of cheap frills. In that way, it has a bit in common with Zombies Ate My Neighbors. Both have a good amount of charm and both are cult favorites. So why am I bringing up this old Tim Burton film, aside from my own sick perverse pleasures? Ghoul Patrol pays homage to the epic Pee-Wee movie! What, you don’t believe me? You say there was absolutely NOTHING from the game that in any way, shape or form gave a nod to the 1985 cult classic? LOOK AGAIN!
Zeke: “Please don’t kill me — WAIT! Don’t I get a last request?” *activates the jukebox*
Of course, the best scene hands down is the infamous Large Marge highway truck scene. It gave me the heebie-jeebies as a kid. I love Pee Wee’s comment “Some night huh?” as he boards the terror truck. The payoff came with this creepy shot. The proceeding diner scene sealed it as one for the ages. The whole “HER GHOSSST” line did me in. And the way the one guy said, “It was 10 years ago… ON A NIGHT JUST LIKE TONIGHT…”
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Ghoul Patrol, unlike Zombies Ate My Neighbors, didn’t grace any gaming magazine covers. Nor did it earn any “Game of the Month” honors. People weren’t singing its praises from the rooftops. Nevertheless, it didn’t do too badly in the presses. EGM gave it ratings of 7, 8, 8, 8and 8. GameFan scored it 70, 78 and 79%. Super Play rated it 82%. I have yet to meet one person who prefers this game to its predecessor. It is objectively nowhere near as good or memorable.
Some may say it’s a bit unfair to compare Ghoul Patrol to Zombies Ate My Neighbors but it goes with the territory. And as such, Ghoul Patrol falls short. It’s missing the camp, charm, frenetic sense of urgency, secrets and that inexplicable “Ooh, I can’t wait to see what’s next!” factor. Ghoul Patrol is instead played straight forward and seriously which just doesn’t work for me personally. That’s not to say it isn’t a decent game. I believe that it is. Viewed entirely on its own, it’s decent enough to provide a solid weekend or two of ghoul-blasting mayhem. Graphically, it fares better than Zombies Ate My Neighbors. The huge bosses are a sight for sore eyes and their level of detail go beyond anything you saw in the first game. Zombies Ate My Neighbors smokes Ghoul Patrol in every other area. But that’s not to say I didn’t have fun with Ghoul Patrol. I like the ability to run, jump and slide. Still a shame though that LucasArts didn’t implement a much needed lock or strafe feature, which the original game could have benefited greatly from having as well.
Speaking of missed opportunities, Zeke and Julie still don’t play any differently. To make matters even worse, control is less responsive than the first game. It almost feels like you’re caught in mud a bit. This causes some frustration as you’ll eat unnecessary damage from the quick ghouls and whatnot. Also, it was a poor design choice to make the run button the same as the shoot button. Yikes. Who thought that was a good idea? But hey, taken for what it is, Ghoul Patrol provides a decent two player zombie romp. It’s a bit more forgiving than the original, which was balls tough. The enemies here (for the most part) don’t chase down the victims you need to save and the victim count doesn’t drop for the next level. In other words, the game does not penalize you for lost victims. Trust me, I’m not complaining about that! It’s really not a bad game at all. Just don’t expect the camp, charm or playability of Zombies Ate My Neighbors and you’ll be fine. Like any decent movie or game sequel, Ghoul Patrol won’t win any awards but fans won’t exactly curse its existence as much as they will express a certain level of overall disappointment. But that doesn’t mean they still can’t enjoy it to some degree. And being that it’s Halloween season, Ghoul Patrol is a welcomed two player foray into the macabre. Sure you could just play ZAMN instead but variety is the spice of life, is it not?
Remember all those great late night horror movies? And how you stayed up to watch them even when your parents told you not to? Remember how you told yourself you wouldn’t look away? And how, when the scary music hit, inevitably you found yourself always cowering behind the family sofa? If you do, then this is the game for you! Relive all your favorite horror B-movies in Zombies Ate My Neighbors! Being that it’s October and Halloween season, I can’t think of many other SNES games I would rather reminisce about right now than this one. But has it stood the test of time nearly 25 years later? Let’s take a closer look…
A QUICK HISTORY LESSON
Originally titled MONSTERS, LucasArts flaunted its eclectic game at the Winter CES in January 1993. Incorporating elements from various gaming genres; run ‘n gun, action, adventure and puzzle to be specific, MONSTERS is a clever pastiche of all the horror movies you’ve ever seen, from the supernatural Hammer Film efforts to the timeless rubber-suited alien invasion shockers of the McCarthy-ite era. It borrows freely from such directors as George Romero, John Carpenter, Roger Corman and a host of others. Everything from the 1950s to the early 1990s…
Now throw all of that into a two player game with a quiet American suburb as its backdrop and some kickass tunes. It was clear that LucasArts had one of the most memorable SNES efforts of 1993.
All they needed was a publisher. Konami was the winner when the dust settled, having acquired the rights to MONSTERS. Only now it was no longer to be known as such… thankfully it was rebranded as Zombies Ate My Neighbors. And the rest is history.
DO THE MONSTER MASH
Growing up, my best friend Nelson and I loved (and I mean LOVED) monsters. In the early 1990s my dad bought this monster book for me at Suncoast of all places. I fondly remember spending that entire evening flipping through the book with my best pal, Nelson. We loved those campy old Godzilla flicks, we loved horror movies (the Halloween series in particular) and we drove people nuts with our constant monster chatter. We believed in ghosts, aliens, Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster. Hell, we even did Bloody Mary one time. So when we saw magazines such as EGM and GameFan previewing Zombies Ate My Neighbors in the late summer of 1993, it was as if the game was made specifically for Nelson and me. It was on an idyllic Saturday in September of ’93 that I rented and brought home Zombies Ate My Neighbors. I immediately called Nelson and before I could even hang up the big guy had rode his bike over. This was big time. This was serious business. This was indeed a happening.
Nearly 25 years later, I still remember the swirling title screen as if it happened only yesterday. It was cheesy, sure, but right away the game set the mood proper.
Zeke and Julie play exactly the same, which is a bit of a shame when you think about it. For example, Zeke could have been stronger (two extra energy bars) while Julie could have been slightly faster. Nonetheless, it’s a riot with two players and the game almost has to be experienced in this way.
A LOOK AT SOME OF THE 55 LEVELS
Zombies Ate My Neighbors is filled with nods to classic horror movie icons, such as Chucky from Child’s Play. A supernatural horror movie, Child’s Play follows the exploits of the “Lakeshore Strangler,” Charles Lee Ray. Moments before croaking in a toy store, Charles Lee Ray does a demonic ritual to transfer his soul into one of the “Good Guys” dolls.
It was good campy fun that frightened the shit out of the five year old me back in 1988! Coming up on 30 years? GAWD DAMN!
On a side note, the Child’s Play franchise continues to this very day. The latest entry in the series, Cult of Chucky, is released officially on October 20, 2017. I’ve seen it and found it to be only OK, but it’s pretty cool nonetheless to see the old Chuckster still kicking and screaming nearly 30 years after his initial appearance.
The Zuni Warrior doll first appeared in Trilogy of Terror, which aired on ABC in 1975. A sequel was made nearly 20 years later. Trilogy of Terror II aired on October 30, 1996. I remember staying up to watch it. The little guy even graced the cover of TV Guide that week. Possessing the spirit of a Zuni Warrior, he springs to life to kill if the gold chain adorning his neck ever comes off. Lots of camp value and a true guilty pleasure on a stormy night!
Tommy the Evil Doll, in another nod to Chucky, may give chase even after death! Remember the apartment finale from the first film? Or the factory finale in the sequel? Cinematic masterpieces! Er, maybe not, but you really oughta watch them if you haven’t already, if nothing else but to appreciate ZAMN even that much more.
Back in the early ’90s, Nelson told me a story that resonated with me so deeply I’m crazy enough to retell it on a Super Nintendo gaming blog a quarter of a century later. In our old hometown, according to Nelson you see, there was a maniac on the loose. On the prowl. Believed to be… at large. Again, according to Nelson, mind you. This maniac wore a white hockey mask and wielded a deadly chainsaw. He was… THE MASKED MANIAC. Of course, I knew Nelson was just bullshitting, but there was a small part of my nine year old being that latched on to the story. The Masked Maniac became our little inside joke over the years, and these days whenever it gets brought up, we still laugh about those good old days… to be young again, eh? Anyway, so imagine our shock (and delight) when we first came face to face with Stanley Decker. HOLY CRAP!
Chainsaw Hedgemaze Mayhem legitimately spooked me as a 10 year old kid playing this back in late 1993. Wherever you go, Decker pursues you relentlessly. And not just one but several. The first time I saw one cutting through the hedgemaze I nearly crapped my pants. Very few levels have ever made me feel as tense as this one did, especially back in those olden days.
Stalked wherever you go. The AI was absolutely relentless, like ants on sugar.
Killer man-eating plants and debris nearby? Call upon the ever handy weed whacker. Just a shame it uses up “ammo” so fast. Rescue the cheerleader down there before they can get to her.
Pyramid scheme? More like pyramid scare! Am I right? Sorry, I’ll see myself out.
I always got a kick out of seeing what lies behind those clumps of dirt. Sometimes you get something good, other times not so much. This is also the first level that takes you outside your suburb. It’s good to see the variety. Expect to see a lot more.
[Something tells me we would get along, Dr. Tongue -Ed.]
One of the most memorable villains in 16-bit history, this baby is nothing but bad news. He’s double tough, fast and annoying as hell. Forget about using your water gun here. Even the almighty Bazooka doesn’t work well — it’s just too damn slow. No, the best way to handle this gigantic goober is by…
Somehow, Zeke manages to rip off one last shot from his bazooka cannon in this life or death tussle.
Relax, Snoop. Your stash is safe. Fo shizzle. [Don’t EVER say that again -Ed.]
Do you remember watching this film in the mid-late ’80s? I do. The plant gave me the creeps. The shit the ’80s got away with!
Doctor Tongue, you’ve got it all wrong. Pimpin’ ain’t easy.
Interesting flick, this one. I remember watching it on TV in the late ’80s. They were hyping the national broadcast debut of the film on the TGIF lineup during the commercials. Years later, around 1997 to be precise, I was introduced to the wonders of the internet. There I poked around for the title of this film as it had slipped my consciousness over the years. All I remembered was there being red, yellow and blue alien-like monkey creatures and some pool scene. Bless the internet — 23 minutes later my memory was validated. I knew I hadn’t gone bonkers (yet), and I dropped by the local rental store to relive a blast from the past. Er, let me just say some things are better left in the past!
Terrifying to the bone? I don’t know, Doc, have you ever seen teenage girls at the mall before? It’s more like their play pen…
What’s worse than facing Tommy or Decker? Facing them both at the SAME time. It makes for some tense moments and as a kid it was the closest thing to a dream (nightmare?) Child’s Play-Friday the 13th crossover as you were gonna get!
[Sounds like an exciting Saturday night -Ed.]
Too bad we don’t get a Freddy Krueger-inspired monster, though.
TREMORS was a fun little horror comedy monster film that ushered in 1990 with a bang. The movie centered around a small Nevada town being hunted by a group of large burrowing man-eating monsters dubbed “Graboids.”
Tremors developed quite a cult following for its simple, easy-to-get-into premise and memorable characters. It spawned several sequels, but the original will always be #1 and fondly remembered by B-Movie fans everywhere. For what it’s worth, Tremors currently has a very respectable 7.1 rating on IMDB. Besides, it’s got Kevin Bacon. And if there’s one thing everyone can agree on: you can never go wrong with a little bacon.
Zombies Ate My Neighbors was almost meta at times and it was one of the earliest games that I can remember feeling like it broke the 4th wall…
GAME OVER, MAN!
I loved (and hated) the way the purple ooze would slowly drip down your TV screen each time you bit the dust. Of course it couldn’t be red…
PAYING MORE HOMAGE
It was clever, it was neat, and at the time it was a breath of fresh air. It never took itself too seriously and it was fun with a capital F. Just making it to the next level just to read the next zany title was all part of the game’s charm. And seeing with your friends who got the various references and who didn’t. The ones who didn’t were unmercifully mocked, naturally. Good times.
MY PERSONAL FAVORITE LEVEL
With over 50 levels, you have no shortage in choice. I absolutely adore this stage. Nothing beats the rush of dodging, weaving and outwitting Stanley Decker and friends, all set in a giant crate factory warehouse. This level feels like the grand finale of a horror film — except this time you get to decide how it all plays out!
Upon further review it’s clear why Decker is so effective. Is it his raw, brute strength? No. Is it his sharp, loud chainsaw? No. Is it his deadly ass crack? Most definitely. It’ll get ya every single damn time.
This is not an easy game by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, due to a high potential shortage of weapons and neighbors to rescue, the later levels can be downright BRUTAL. So then, some tips for ya…
Keep an eye out for suspicious looking shrubbery. If you spot a hedge facing out of the screen, try firing your Bazooka. Chances are you’ll find a handy item for your troubles. Likewise, the grilled windows in the malls can be blasted to bits. You can see whether there’s anything of worth behind windows. Be thankful for small favors!
If enemies get to the neighbors before you can — sometimes you’ll just hear a nearby scream indicating a neighbor’s demise off screen — then you need to try a different route. Perhaps one that may even take you through walls and over rooftops… hint hint.
Speaking of the neighbors, the more points you earn the more bonus neighbors you’ll rack up. If you already have 10 neighbors, you’ll get an extra life instead!
It doesn’t take much to kill the Martians but they are agile bastards. They also shoot fast and if nailed, you (or the neighbors) will be imprisoned in a bubble. Plus, Martians tend to hang out in packs which makes them 10 times as worse. Keep your guard up and keep moving!
One tip that really helps with Martians is shooting them at an angle. This eliminates the chance of their bubble gun damaging you (their shot only goes straight). Keep in mind though, you have to be running about in order to shoot from an angle. This game really could have used a strafe and lock button.
The same strategy applies for zombies. You’ll find them clawing their way up from the ground beneath your feet if you remain idle for even just a few seconds.
Check under giant plants for any additional items (usually keys). It’s very easy to miss them. To check, of course, means to kill these plants.
Some weapons, like fizzy cans and tomatoes, can be thrown over walls and other obstacles. Over the counter, through windows, over desktops, etc. This lets you eliminate foes from a position of relative safety before dashing in, or in some cases dashing out.
These tiny spiders are easy to kill but sometimes hard to spot. The surroundings may obscure their position so tread carefully. And always keep in mind that every second wasted could mean the life of one of your bratty neighbors!
Thanks to their agility, spiders are a major pain in the butt when you’re busy battling the bigger baddies! Be weary of spiders swooping in like vultures to sap your precious health.
Don’t waste your time looking for weapons until you’ve saved all the neighbors. Try using a pair of Speed Sneakers at the start of a new level to bomb around the stage and rescue the victims before the monsters can get to them.
Use the landscape to outrun pursuers. Being chased and have to cycle through your inventory to find the right weapon? You’ll need all the time you can buy. So duck into houses, nip through gaps and generally weave about to make life tougher for the incoming undead.
As long as you have one neighbor to save, the game goes on. However, for each neighbor lost, the neighbor count on the next level goes down a notch. Having only one to rescue becomes impossible in the later stages.
The inflatable clown decoys come in very handy but only work on some of the dumber monsters.
A slime blob attached to your head eats up three health points. Be sure to use the medi-kit (if you have one) when you get down to your last three energy bars in any area that has been compromised by slime blobs.
There are bonus levels galore! Can you find them all? Day of the Tentacle, f’rinstance? Can you reach MARS NEEDS CHEERLEADERS with the full complement of 10 neighbors? Also, look for bonus ?-boxes throughout the game. Can you find the son of Dr. Tongue?
Save your monster potions for bosses or really hairy situations.
GAME GENIE CHEATS
While the game provides you with a password every fourth level, it’s still a damn tough cookie. These cheats may come in handy if you just want to mess around:
This talisman produces a fire that encircles and protects you, destroying the monsters it touches. Hold down for sustained use. Great on werewolves and everyone, really, but it eats up ammo fast.
Mows down deadly ground debris as well as the monsters. Particularly effective against plants, werewolves and spiders
Freezes baddies temporarily. But can kill Jelly Blobs.
Martian Bubble Gun
Captures enemy in a bubble. Try it on ants…
Zombie Invade Suburbia
Zombies Need BBQ Sauce
Suburban Zombie Bake-Off
Don’t Build That Mall Here!
Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun
Please Don’t Feed the Zombies!
My Zombie, Make BIG Mistake
The Zombies Wrong Turn At Alpha 6
Michael Barone and the Zombie Hunters
Return of the Teenage Son of the Bride of a Zombie, Part 2
ALTERNATIVE BOX ART
I much prefer this to the one we got. Needs some Julie, though.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Zombies Ate My Neighbors turned out to be one of the most notable 16-bit games released in 1993. The critics ate it up. For its time especially, it was considered a work of art. Brilliant, ingenious and a tribute to all B-Movie horror fans everywhere. After all, when Anita Placetohide endorses your game, it simply doesn’t get any better than that.
I still vividly remember the GameFan issue with the Zombies Ate My Neighbors cover. Zombies, killer dolls, chainsaw wielding masked maniacs and titanic toddlers — what’s not to love? LucasArts had a mega hit on their hands. EGM rewarded it with “Game of the Month” honors, doling out scores of 9, 9, 9 and 9. GameFan scored it 88, 89, 90and 93%. Super Play rated it 89%. Konami was wise to slap their name to this product. Even to this day, some people still confuse Konami as the developers to ZAMN. Hell, look at the GameFan cover above. But I see you, LucasArts. I see you…
I have to admit, Zombies Ate My Neighbors strikes an incredibly nostalgic chord with me. I remember spending countless evenings playing it with my best friend, Nelson, all throughout the fall of 1993. If you were a fly on the wall back then you would hear our hooting, hollering and cries of joy and agony as the game punished us as much as it rewarded us for our perseverance. ZAMN is a veritable melting pot of all those great (and not-so-great) B-Movies, low budget affairs and rubber-suited cheesy flicks we grew up on as kids. I think back to that fall of ’93 very fondly. Nelson and I were huddled around my 27 inch Sony TV monitor blasting Martians, mummies and mushroom men back to the stone age. All those sinister bedraggled figures shambling towards us through the half-lit haze… there’s something beautiful about it. Intensely atmospheric, ZAMN does a great job of sucking you in and may well provide for some sleepless nights…
The sheer joy of popping a zombie’s melon with a salad fork, or saving the teacher right before ole Tommy boy can chop her to pieces, is a great feeling. On the other hand, the pain of Frankenstein’s electric personality, or thinking you’re in the clear to rescue that cheerleader right as Decker comes out of NOWHERE, is absolutely crushing. There are so many mood swings one will encounter while playing through any given level in this game, and that is something that cannot be said for many games to the degree in which ZAMN pulls it off. You’ll go through the ups and downs, the peaks and valleys. You almost feel like you’re Zeke yourself, right down to the geeky 3D shades and Punisher t-shirt. OK, maybe just me then. But there’s no doubt ZAMN becomes super bloody fun when playing alongside a like-minded friend.
It’s not perfect, though. The weapons, while there are plenty to pick from, are excessive. Too many of them feel a bit useless and only clog up the inventory. The silverware serves its purpose against the werewolf but the football, plates and tomatoes seem like a waste. It wouldn’t be that bad if cycling through weapons were implemented better. Sadly, you can only switch weapons with button B which means there’s no backtracking through your weapon inventory. Miss the weapon you want by one? Sorry, you’re out of luck. There’s no way to backtrack — you have to cycle through your inventory another time. And no, you can’t pause the game to cycle through your many weapons. I mean, do we really need both L AND R to toggle off the map? A missed opportunity there. It sucks running away trying to get to the right weapon because of some thoughtlessness on the part of the programmers, but maybe that’s just me being nit-picky. A strafe or lock button also would have been nice. As great as this game already is, these features would have made it (in my opinion) one of the top 20 SNES games of all time. You can’t help but feel it’s not QUITE as polished as it could have been.
Thankfully, that’s pretty much where my complaints ceases. ZAMN has incredible atmosphere, it’s great at being a pick-up-and-play game, and the tunes are simply awesome. The music ranges from a carnival atmosphere to haunted houses and ancient Egypt all depending on the level you’re currently on. It’s eclectic and highly memorable. Some of the music and sound effects are firmly embedded in my soul even nearly 25 years on.
And who could ever forget that monster cast? Although it makes me long for even more, the enemies here are among some of the most memorable in 16-bit history. It’s a marvel to see some of those giant monsters muck about with zero slowdown in sight. The giant spider and titanic toddler in particular are a real doozy to behold!
Other than weapon cycling and a lack of strafe/lock option, there’s another way ZAMN could have been enhanced. I wished there were extra modes of play. Imagine if each stage had an exit and it played just like Doom. Saved no neighbors? No bonus points but you still can advance to the next level. The other option would be to kill every monster in a level in order for the exit to appear. This mode would be for the macho action heads out there, or when you’re simply in the mood to blow shit up without worrying about the neighbor count. Of course, that’s just me. The game gets difficult as nails and very unforgiving as you progress — I wished they toned it down a bit or like I said, gave you these extra modes to enjoy. But I digress.
It’s hard NOT to like Zombies Ate My Neighbors. The list of positives run high. It plays well and has a killer two player mode — ZAMN often appears on “Best Two Player SNES Games” list and rightfully so. It features tons of levels and secrets, a memorable cast of villains, terrific sound and a ghoulish atmosphere that will appeal to anyone who ever loved monsters… or still do. Sure it’s not without its flaws but there’s a reason why Zombies Ate My Neighbors is considered a classic and a staple of the vast SNES library. While I admit it has aged perhaps not as perfectly well as I would have liked, it’s still a top-notch effort and one of those games that truly brings out the 10 year old in me still to this day.
Oh and speaking of ZAMN 2, or Ghoul Patrol, proceed at your own risk. It’s actually not that bad but as far as “spiritual sequels” go, it should have been a lot better. Oh well… at least we’ll always have Zombies Ate My Neighbors…
Growing up I was a huge fan of all things Halloween-related. My favorite month of the year was October. I just love the fall season. Everything from falling leaves to all the ghoulish sights around town and of course, the feeling of excitement as you count down to the night of nights… HALLOWEEN! “8 more days to Halloween, Halloween, Halloween. 8 MORE DAYS TO HALLOWEEN — SILVER SHAMROCK!” Argh! GET IT OUT OF MY HEAD!!! Ahem, sorry.
SUPER NINTENDO HALLOWEEN SPECIAL
If there was one thing I loved just as much as Halloween back in the day, it was without a shadow of doubt the Super Nintendo. The SNES has been known as a “kiddie” system especially when compared to the Sega Genesis, which featured more darker, mature titles. While it’s true that the SNES didn’t have as many as the Genesis had, that doesn’t mean it was completely devoid of “darker” games. Tonight, I’m proud to highlight 35 games that SNES fans can play this month of October in preparation for Halloween. Not all these games are great or even necessarily “mature” or “darker,” but they certainly fit the mood of the season in general. Some of these games are classic mainstays while there are a few you might have never heard of. I hope this inspires you to dig up a few SNES games to play this Halloween season.
There is something real special about gaming around this time of the year. The rainy days, shorter days and longer nights create an atmosphere conducive to staying in and snuggling up with old gaming favorites by the fire, or discovering some new ones for the first time! Perhaps this list will introduce you to a few new titles to throw into your Halloween rotation. Without further ado, let’s begin the countdown in alphabetical order. Here are 35 Super Nintendo games to play during the month of October!
They’re creepy and they’re kooky. Mysterious and spooky. Ah, you know the rest. Released in March 1992 from Ocean, this was one of the earlier Super Mario World clones during the Super Nintendo’s infancy. It’s got quite a few fans. It’s obviously not nearly as polished and awesome as Super Mario World — I’m not a big fan of its somewhat slippery control or overly brutal difficulty, but it’s definitely not too shabby. It’s got a ton of secrets and you can tell the programmers had a blast making this one — hell, they said so themselves. Worth a look if you like your platformers difficult and somewhat quirky.
#2: THE ADDAMS FAMILY: PUGSLEY’S SCAVENGER HUNT
The follow up to The Addams Family, Pugsley’s Scavenger Hunt also has its fair share of fans. It’s quite an upgrade visually, but I think I actually prefer the first game. The programmers were quoted once saying that they tried to recapture the “magic” of the first game but just couldn’t with this game. Nevertheless, it’s decent enough to kill a few hours with. And if you’re going to give this a try, might as well do it during October.
#3: ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES
The last in the SNES trilogy, Addams Family Values switches it up a bit by being an action RPG rather than a typical platformer. It sounds and looks enticing on paper, but unfortunately it’s something of a slight disappointment. I remember back in the day being super hyped for this. Uncle Fester in a Link to the Past clone? Sign me up! The main issue is the lack of a backup battery. Sure, it’s got a password system, but these passwords are scarce. On top of that, they’re awfully long and cumbersome. On the bright side, the game has a nice atmosphere for October, and the gameplay itself is generally fairly solid. If there was ever a game meant for using save states, it’s this one. Still, it’s the best of the SNES Addams Family trilogy.
#4: THEADVENTURES OF DR. FRANKEN
Ah, the early-mid ’90s. I love that era of video gaming. It was a period in time that was ransack with Mario clones left and right. Some of these games were great, some were just OK and others were better left forgotten. TheAdventures of Dr. Franken is one of those forgotten platformers lost in the “me too” SNES crowd of the early-mid ’90s. This is just what the doctor ordered, or not. I wanted to like it but ended up rather disappointed. It’s not unplayable, but it’s probably the weakest game on this list. It’s better than terrible crud like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Musya, though. By the way, none of those games are on this list because they are truly terrifying (to play).
All right, now we’re talking! Alien³ is a very solid movie-game adaptation. Just like the ALIEN films, Alien³ has a dark and foreboding feel to it. The aliens come at you fast and furious from all directions, making it a worthy candidate to play late at night with all the lights turned off. The difficulty is a bit steep, but that just makes the whole thing all the more tense. There is a password system and cheat codes to make life a bit easier, if you need it. Sure, it’s a bit repetitive but damn if it ain’t fun blasting an alien in the face with a flame thrower.
Brandish is a classic example of a love or hate game. Give it a shot, because if you’re one of those people who end up loving it, like I do, you are in for a rare treat. Players take on Varik, a bounty hunter who falls into a deep underworld maze filled with 55 different monster breeds roaming the cursed halls. The game’s music and atmosphere does an excellent job convincing you that you are 40 floors buried underneath the surface. As you fight to make your way back to the top, there is a real sense of dread that works well with the Halloween season, not to mention the 55 different monsters. There’s a little something for everyone. From menacing minotaurs to towering dinosaurs to even Death itself — almost every creature imaginable is milling about the hell hole! I beat it almost 10 years ago now, and still to this day it remains a fond memory. Once in a while a game resonates with you in such a way you can’t explain. Brandish is that game for me. If you love atmospheric games and monsters, and like a more methodical action RPG, give it a shot. No better time to than October! It has more than its fair share of creepy moments…
The sequel is bigger as it now features outdoor playing areas, but it’s not necessarily better. I prefer the original but I still enjoyed beating Brandish 2. It’s the first Japanese game on this list as it never left Japan. There is an English fan translation floating out there, and I recommend playing it if you really like the first one. It’s got better visuals and all, but is missing the “magic” of the first game. That’s not to say Brandish 2 isn’t any good. It’s very solid in its own right; it still features monsters and a seedy adventure that goes well with October’s rainy days.
Best to get this out of the way early… OK so it isn’t anywhere as epic as Super Castlevania IV. And yes, you can’t help but wonder what if Konami had made a proper sequel using their SNES know-how by 1995. Got you drooling a bit there, eh? Well, Dracula X isn’t quite up to those standards, BUT it is a pretty solid (and damn difficult) action game, with Konami’s signature stellar soundtrack. In my book, Dracula X doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves, and it’s just good enough to warrant firing up every October…
You cannot talk about Halloween SNES games without bringing up Clock Tower. Hands down the most frightening game on the system, this is where the epic Scissorman story began. Who would ever believe that a Super Nintendo title can make your heart skip a beat? But play this at 2 in the morning with all the lights turned off and it just might genuinely creep you out. The game has an uneasy feel to it — Scissorman popping up randomly is the main reason why! Just an awesome survival horror game and a must play for the Halloween season.
Pocky & Rocky fans rejoice. This game is ultra bizarre. I mean, where else can you kill Asian hopping vampires, astronauts on Mars, giant bamboo eating pandas, vile rotting zombies, aliens, ninjas, knights and Bruce Lee wannabes — all the while transforming into a large steroid-injected muscle maniac who oh yeah JUST happens to be the spirit of your deceased father?!? Intrigued? If you are not then you have no pulse! Love the subtle Halloween vibes it has, too.
One of the most underrated SNES games around, once upon a time, anyhow. In the past 10 years, I’ve seen Demon’s Crest get the adulation it deserved back in the mid ’90s. On top of excelling in all the basic video game categories, Demon’s Crest exudes atmosphere and coolness like very few other SNES games. Playing as a winged demon that collects orbs, changes form accordingly and breathes fire is too damn badass, y’know?
When Doom exploded on the scene back in 1993, it took the gaming nation by storm. As great as Wolfenstein 3D was, Doom was that much better. Ask any gamer over the age of 30 or so and they’ll regale you with a Doom tale from their childhood. In 1995 Doom was ported to the Super Nintendo to mixed reviews. I didn’t like it back then because I couldn’t shake the fact that it was far inferior compared to the original PC game. 15 years later, 2010, I bought the game and came to appreciate the port for what it is. Naturally there were many sacrifices. The game only features 22 maps and there is no save or password feature. Despite this, it’s still impressive what they were able to pull off considering the limitations of the hardware. On a side note, the Japanese Super Famicom version is superior due to the fact that it allows you to start off on any episode on any difficulty level. You can start on any episode in the US version, but the later episodes require you to play it at a higher difficulty level.
This isometric action adventure is packed with epic music from Tim Follin and a haunting atmosphere that makes it an ideal Halloween selection. It is damn difficult, though, but well worth persevering through. It allows you to save the game at any point, which makes the rather high difficulty a little more bearable. Each level requires you to collect keys to open up the various locked gates. Grabbing these keys can be one hell of a challenge, and sometimes just finally grabbing one particularly elusive key is satisfying enough to call it a night. It’s one of those games that you can play and enjoy for 20 minutes or 2 hours. I wish there were more games like this on the SNES but at least we’ll always have Equinox.
I was intrigued by this game the day I saw EGM previewing it in early 1993. It looked different than most of your average “bright” SNES games. First Samurai is dark and has a dreary foreboding look to it. When I finally tried it in 2006, I wasn’t much disappointed. I never expected a stellar game, but just a fun adequate one. And that First Samurai is. From its abnormal enemies to the “Hallelujah!” song and “OH NO! MY SWORD!”sound effect, First Samurai just has a different feel from your typical SNES game, and is one I enjoy playing in October. The game’s mood fits this time of the year perfectly. Try it for yourself. It’s not good enough to be considered a hidden gem or anything, but it’s one of those funky little games that leaves you going, “Hey, that was kind of fun in a weird sort of way…”
A highly difficult game that seems passable at first but is made somewhat worthy when playing with a friend (as one can block and one can attack). Not my first choice to play for Halloween, but you can’t deny Kitarou’s strong Halloween spirit. Check it out only if you can, but don’t go out of your way to.
A surprisingly solid action game based off a manga. Too many times such efforts are hack jobs and cheap attempts to cash-in. Ghost SweeperMikami, on the other hand, is handled well. It won’t rock your world but it’s fairly fun and you gotta love its ghoulish look and spooky atmosphere. A great choice to play in October.
LucasArts tried to reinvent the magic of Zombies Ate My Neighbors with this differently named “sequel.” Unfortunately, they didn’t succeed on that end. But, not all is lost. Ghoul Patrol has some decent things going for it. It’s just nowhere as good or fun as the original. However, this game is much more forgiving, allowing you to advance much further in the game even when you go at it alone. All in all, it’s not a shabby sequel but it’s missing considerably the fluidity and charm of Zombies Ate My Neighbors.
#19: JAKI CRUSH
A Super Famicom pinball game that centers around demons, monsters and the occult. The last in the Crush trilogy (Alien Crush and Devil’s Crush), Jaki Crush is full of Halloween-esque sights. If you enjoy video game pinball then you’re sure to have a good time with this.
Thisgame goes hand-in-hand with Halloween. It’s not quite the epic action game I was hoping it might be, but it’s pretty solid and gives us Super Nintendo fanatics one more sinister game to enjoy. You can transform into various demon forms — giving it an Altered Beast feel. At first glance it appears to be a cross between Castlevania and Resident Evil. As long as you leave your lofty expectations at the door, Majyuuou (AKA King of Demons) is a ghoulishly fun time.
I love the SNES port of Mortal Kombat II. My bro bought it when it came out back in September of 1994, so I have fond memories of playing it during Halloween season that same year. Characters like Baraka and stages like the haunted forest give it a lovely Halloween spirit. FINISH HIM!!
Nosferatu is one of those games I studied and drooled over in gaming mags way back in the day… only to finally play some 15+ years later and find out that, sadly, it fell short of the gem my mind had built it up to be. Nevertheless, it’s not all bad. In fact, it’s decent (at least, for the first couple levels before the difficulty becomes far too daunting). It’s not the superb smooth playing Castlevania meets Prince of Persia mix I was hoping for, but you can’t win them all. Still, I love the macabre atmosphere and it’s fun to play the first two or three levels during Halloween time.
#23: POCKY & ROCKY
A widely regarded Super Nintendo classic that’s worth playing any time but especially during Halloween time. Better yet, it’s even more fun with two skilled players at the helm. Yeah it’s not the first SNES game you associate Halloween with, but it’s got that nice subtle ghoulish touch to it. Be forewarned though, it’s not as easy as it looks. It’s actually quite difficult and requires much practice to excel at. But damn if it isn’t fun.
#24: POCKY & ROCKY 2
Natsume released a sequel the following year (1994) to solid reviews. There are some nice new features that makes this a worthy follow up to the classic original. These new features include multiple paths within the levels and partners. When you talk about great 2-player co-op SNES games, you gotta talk about the Pocky & Rocky series. They’re great fun to play whenever, but especially during October.
#25: PORKY PIG’S HAUNTED HOLIDAY
Not great by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a decent little platformer that came out late in the SNES’ lifespan. Therefore, it was overlooked even more. It’s no Super Mario World, but I do enjoy its wacky levels and it’s an underrated Halloween choice. An interesting aspect of the game is that the weather changes every time you turn it on, and often weather will vary during the game itself. From one level to the next, it may be raining, snowing, or sunny, and may have summer, autumn, or winter color schemest. Overall, you could do far worse than Porky Pig’s Haunted Holiday.
Gritty, grimy and great for October. For goodness sake, you start the game out by waking up on a slab in a morgue… suffering from amnesia. Talk about morbid and sordid. The control takes some getting used to, but the game’s cyberpunk feel is what makes it special. Shadowrun is a very unique game and something I wish the SNES saw more of. I have very fond memories of playing it on a rainy Halloween night of 2014. The game’s gritty “shady city” atmosphere fits in perfectly with the mood of Halloween.
#27: SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI
Shin Megami Tensei isn’t for everyone — it’s a rather plodding first person RPG from the early days of 1992. But its sordid universe suits the Halloween season very well. You can recruit enemies to be your allies, and you can either side with the angels, the demons or go neutral. If you can withstand the somewhat slow nature of the game, it’s a rather fascinating and morbid trip through a hellish Tokyo. Note: it can be downright brutally difficult at times. You could be walking along destroying enemies easily but just as easily get in a battle with a monster that wipes out your party in no time flat. Be sure to save often!
#28: SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI II
More of the same, but now faster and more accessible. If you enjoyed the first game then you’re sure to like this one, too. Naturally, the monsters, demons and devils make both Shin Megami Tensei games ideal to play during the month of October. They do require a bit of patience and perseverance, but the payoff is substantial — very few SNES games are as thought-provoking and politically incorrect.
This is the first title that jumps to mind right away when I think of SNES Halloween games. And why not, seeing as it has practically every creature of the night represented on its monster roll call. Featuring a stunning soundtrack, great graphics (for its time specifically) and satisfying gameplay mechanics, it’s a bloody sin not to, at the very least, pop this game in for a quick go every October. Turn off the lights, grab that ancient magical Belmont whip and hack away at mummies, frankensteins, and oh yeah, Dracula himself, as you try to eviscerate the Prince of Darkness and his minions one more time. It doesn’t get any better than that, folks. An essential Super Nintendo classic that is perfect for Halloween.
Long before Resident Evil and even Sweet Home, this was Capcom’s first original “horror” franchise. And a mighty fine one it is, too. Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts sports a high difficulty (but somewhat overrated in my humble opinion, at least, on easy mode). Featuring stunning graphics (mind, for 1991 standards) and sound, this game always delights and is a reminder of the Super Nintendo’s early GLORY days. You absolutely can’t go wrong giving this some October play time.
The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang is a super short yet sweet game that you ought to play if you haven’t already. It’s so criminally short that it can be beaten in a measly 3 to 4 hours. Players control Spike McFang, a young vampire warrior in the making. A very good game that scores high on the fun and quirky scale.
Warlock has a nice creepy, ominous atmosphere going for it. It’s not the greatest game around, but it’s got its moments. There are various spells at your disposal and there is some strategy and sorcery at play here. Not your typical hop ‘n bop platformer, which I appreciate. Give it a try. A low key under the radar choice.
You transform into a wolf and shoot down bad guys like empty tin cans sitting on a fence. Wolfchild is a bit reminiscent of Werewolf (NES) and perhaps even Altered Beast (Genesis). Decent fun to be had and worth playing through at least once for the diehard SNES fanatic. A forgotten game that was lost in the me-too SNES crowd of early-mid 1990s, but not forgotten to RVGFanatic!
While this game may not seem like a “Halloween title” right off the bat, I ask you, where else can you pump mutant chunks full of lead in a mere matter of 10 seconds? In my book, there are few adrenaline rushes on the SNES quite like the one that Wolfenstein provides. With its many menacing monsters and large labyrinths, this is a solid choice to play during the Halloween season. Besides, you gotta love its scare-inducing sound — I’ve flinched more than once when turning a seemingly innocent corner only to be greeted by the loud crack of gunfire and a gravelly, sharp “STOP!”
What a perfect game to end this list. It’s impossible to talk about Halloween SNES games and not think of Zombies Ate My Neighbors almost immediately. When this game dropped on our laps back in late 1993, man, none of us knew what a cult classic it would become. It goes along perfectly with all the horror movies you’ll watch throughout October as many of its enemies are knock-offs of various horror movie villains. Whether it’s the evil doll Chucky, the lumbering brute Jason or cheerleader snatching aliens, it’s a veritable who’s who of horror movie icon lore. Zombies Ate My Neighbors shines best when playing with a buddy. It’s couch co-op gaming at its finest. It may feel cheap at times, but with a skilled friend in tow it’s still one zombie blasting good time. Perfect, indeed, for the Halloween season.
Ah, Halloween. How I love thee. There’s just something magical about this season that I absolutely adore. I hope you enjoyed going through this list, recalling old Halloween Super Nintendo favorites in addition to maybe discovering a few new titles to add to your Halloween mix. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for both Halloween and the Super Nintendo. Both have given me countless memories over the years, and deep down inside, there’s a little robust 10 year old boy still yearning for one last great American Halloween adventure. There’s nothing like watching horror movies at night and playing some of these SNES games as I count down the days to Halloween. With that said, there’s really only one thing left to say…