4 days until Halloween: Zombies Ate My Neighbors, a loving retrospective

Growing up in the early to mid-90’s, I was blessed to be raised in the golden age of Super Nintendo, Sega and glorious games like Rampage World Tour, Mortal Kombat, The Lion King, Sonic the Hedgehog and a very special game that I hold near and dear to my heart, the forever awesome Zombies Ate My Neighbors.

See, I was raised in a household that certainly had rules and limits, but when it came to the horror genre, I was practically given an all-access pass from a very young age.  Perhaps too young in some folks’ minds, but it molded me into the horror fan I am these days and for that, I am thankful.

I received the ultimate Christmas gift when I was seven years old – a Super Nintendo.  My parents and grandma were so damn proud of gifting me the coolest present ever, they didn’t even pretend it came from Santa!  I can still recall the gift wrapping and the shriek I let out when I peeled back the wrapping and clutched that bad boy in my hands.

A few days after Christmas, it was time to spend some gift cards and my mother and grandmother took me to the KB Toys in the local mall and I made a beeline for the video game case.  There, I found a game I could play with my sister (Aladdin) and then I found a colorful video game case that I couldn’t take my eyes off of.

My mother laughed at the case and encouraged me to get it, almost like a dare.  My grandmother muttered something about the game looking hideous but after promising both of them that the game wouldn’t affect my sleep habits, I was soon strolling out of KB Toys with Egyptian hijinks in one hand and brain-munching shenanigans in the other!

I got home and instantly popped that sucker in, telling my sister she could have an hour playing Aladdin alone so long as she gave me the first thirty minutes with Zombies..

I remember it didn’t take long for the game to get my heart racing.  One of the pregame credits was for a company that I can’t remember the name of but the company’s name is shouted in a deep roar right before the main menu begins.

Next thing you know, you’re among the meandering dead!  Playing either as the spiky-haired cool dude,  Zeke, or the street-wise tough chick, Julie, you are on a mission – to save as many of your dopey neighbors as you possibly can before they become straight up zombie appetizers.  And if the zombies don’t get them, the collection of horror movie monsters to follow surely will!

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The game is the most fun you will ever have with a video game.  From soda can grenades and cutlery as weapons to running away from demonic dolls in a mall, I can’t even remember how many weekend nights I spent playing this until my eyes grew heavy.  While it is a blast to play alone, the co-op feature is way more fun, as I soon learned after I convinced my sister to play with me – which was just my crafty way of playing more of my game as opposed to having to sit around and wait for my little sis to finish her time on the console.

Shortly after I purchased the game and after countless heebie-jeebies, I had an uncle come in for a family visit.  My uncle was a cross-country truck driver at the time so he had a few nights to kill before he headed back on the road so he shacked up with us.

On one of those nights, good ol’ Uncle… we’ll call him Uncle Jeff… began to lay out his holier-than-thou religious spiel to my father and I.  Uncle Jeff caught glimpse of the amazing video game case resting beneath our television set and you could practically hear the brimstone broiling between his ears.

The game was nothing but a sin, an “invitation to allow Satan to enter your heart and consume your soul” (those are the exact words this dude said to a seven-year old) and after my father shushed good ol’ Uncle Jeff up, it didn’t stop Uncle Jeff from scaring the living daylights out of me about an eternity of Hell if I continued to play this game after my father left the room.  Shortly after this wholesome discussion, I… threw the game away.

Ugh, some twenty-plus years later, I still have disdain for such a crappy uncle and I think about the game constantly.  It was an absolute blast and I can only imagine how many more days I would have dedicated to conquering the zombie apocalypse had my uncle’s big ol’ rig never rumbled through Illinois on that fateful weekend.

Alas, all is not lost.  The game has quite the cult following and I even have the background music as a ringtone on my phone that I still use from time to time.

You wanna know the best part about this whole article?  I am finishing it off with this.  Enjoy, fellow horror fans!

 

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