Zombie Panic in Wonderland Review for Nintendo Wii

Zombie Panic in Wonderland Review for Nintendo Wii

When it comes to shooters, zombies and Nazis are the coal that keeps gameplay going. Though Wii owners won’t be whisked back to World War II in this downloadable adventure from Akaoni Studio, Zombie Panic in Wonderland offers plenty of undead action at an affordable price.

Zombie Panic in Wonderland screenshot

Zombie Panic in Wonderland is presented as a naughty take on various American fairy tales, namely The Wizard of Oz and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Scented dwarves have attracted hordes of “amorous” zombies, and it’s up to the young hero, Momotaro, to help his friends save Wonderland. The tale is told by way of a smattering of comic-book-style still art, and the entire presentation reeks of pre-pubescent sexual fantasy. The story is ridiculous, with a few parts stupid, but it’s impossible to deny the game’s charm and appeal.

Cutscenes and silliness aside, Zombie Panic is an easy-to-pick-up-and-play, third-person shooter. You won’t be moving freely through the environments – it’s not even on-rails – you simply move your character from side to side (á la Space Invaders), shooting the undead menace and laying waste to everything and anything around you.

Without a doubt, the developers seem to have been inspired by 2008’s Zombie BBQ for the Nintendo DS. You’ve got all flavors of zombies, from ghouls who rise up next to you in an attempt to rob you of your brains, to skull-lobbing skeletons and blubbering fatties who charge toward you from afar. There’s a lot of action to keep up with, and each zombie has a specific weak spot you’ll need to target.

Zombie Panic in Wonderland screenshot

The game is broken up into short levels that require you to “clean up” a certain amount of zombies in the area; once your clean-up gauge is full, you’ll move on to the next level. Both the story mode and arcade run you through the same levels, though in arcade you can select individual levels for a quick session of zombie destruction. There’s also an online leaderboard where you can view and upload high scores.

Though Momotaro is presented as a sort of ninja-come-lately, guns are the business of Zombie Panic in Wonderland. The default machine gun has infinite ammo, and there’s also a heavy machine gun, flame thrower, and grenades, all of which require refilling from power-ups dropped randomly by defeated zombies.

The controls are mapped smartly and feel pretty good, considering the gameplay on offer here. You’ll be using both the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, and the pointer functionality for aiming is precise and fluid. Movement of your character is mapped to the analog stick; you can dodge incoming attacks by pressing the Z button, change weapons on the fly with the C button, fire with B, and lob grenades with the A button – no waggling required.

Zombie Panic in Wonderland screenshot

Zombie Panic in Wonderland can be a fun, mindless shooter, and it has plenty of great, little touches of silliness and sexuality. Destroying environments is somewhat satisfying, but for the most part, gameplay comes down to a simple a matter of holding down the B button whilst staying clear of incoming projectiles. The game’s a one-trick pony, and after just a few minutes of play, the shooting starts to get old.

The only real respite you’ll get from repetition comes from the small handful of boss encounters sprinkled throughout the game. Though they’re not all winners, some of the boss fights are surprisingly entertaining for a downloadable adventure. Most bosses offer a fun, multi-tiered challenge, but the difficulty of the game’s latter levels feels a bit arbitrary and unfair.

There are also a few quirks you’ll have to contend with that aren’t part of the game’s hormone-drenched storyline. The camera won’t reveal the full view for each level, meaning you’ll have to first move your character all the way to one side before you can attack certain targets, though zombies can still throw things at you from off screen. Not only is this annoying and kind of cheap, it’s a jarring perspective to have to constantly deal with.

Zombie Panic in Wonderland screenshot

As you roll through the story mode, you’ll unlock additional playable characters. Though they all play essentially the same, the scantily clad vixens should prove worthwhile additions to fans of echi-style anime.

Drop-in/drop-out co-op play is another welcome feature. It not only makes getting through the more difficult levels easier, Zombie Panic in Wonderland is simply one of those games that’s more enjoyable when played with a friend. The formula is exactly the same, however, so don’t expect to get long sessions of amusement out of the game.

In spite of the odd camera system, Zombie Panic in Wonderland looks really good. It’s bursting with bright colors, and the variety of enemies is impressive for a WiiWare title. The playable characters animate a bit stiffly, as do some of the enemies, but the framerate seemed to hold up surprisingly well, even with tons of action onscreen at once. The explosions aren’t spectacular, but being able to destroy pretty much everything in a level is still a nice touch.

The music consists of a selection of fairy-tale-inspired themes that match the gameplay and motif well, and the sound effects do a decent job of supporting the gameplay. There’s nothing going on in the audio department that really stands out, though. It’s an average audio suite that’s about what you’d expect from a $10 downloadable package.

That, however, is probably my main issue with Zombie Panic in Wonderland. I was admittedly excited for the game. WiiWare feels like the perfect platform for good, old-fashioned, arcade fun; throw in some zombies and sexy anime chicks, and you’ve got gravy on the side. But at the higher end of the pricing spectrum for downloadable games, Zombie Panic simply doesn’t offer a big enough bite of gameplay. The shooting can be fun for a few minutes, especially with a friend, but it quickly loses its luster. The game’s pretty to look at – and who wouldn’t want to see Snow White in garter belts and stockings – but when you tally up its component parts, the value just isn’t quite there.

Though the characters animate a bit stiffly, there’s still a lot of eye candy here for a WiiWare title. 4.0 Control
Considering the gameplay on offer, the controls work really well. Good pointer functionality and button mapping. The camera is a bit of a hassle. 3.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music and sound effects do little more than get the job done. 2.9

Play Value
I enjoyed the vibe of the game, and the shooting can be fun in short spurts. The fun factor and the price, however, don’t quite level out.

3.0 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Fight your way through hordes of zombies with machine gun in hand.
  • Choose between seven different playable characters.
  • Get together with a friend and play multiplayer mode.

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