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Teenage Zombies: Invasion of the Alien Brain Thingys!

For: DS

Raising the dead

Product: Teenage Zombies: Invasion of the Alien Brain Thingys! | Developer: InLight Entertainment | Publisher: UTV Ignition Games | Format: DS | Genre: Action, Platform | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Teenage Zombies: Invasion of the Alien Brain Thingys! DS, thumbnail 1
If you happen to have set foot in one of the many metropolitan conurbations that scatter the United Kingdom, you'll have no doubt noticed a worrying abundance of youngsters sporting black clothing, lank hair and dark eyeliner. The 'goth' look is very much back in favour at the moment, but whatever your opinion may be of these disenfranchised rapscallions it's worth remembering that they may one day prove to be the saviours of our planet Earth.

Maybe we're guilty of taking the plot for Teenage Zombies: Invasion of the Alien Brain Thingys a little too literally here. In this inventive platform romp the world is overrun by malevolent floating brains which waste no time in defeating the hapless human race via a cunning combination of mind-control and laser cannon.

However, these obnoxious xenomorphs didn't count on the fact that the shambling undead are totally resilient to brainwashing and happen to harbour a particular preference for brain-meat. Three deceased teenagers (who we're betting counted themselves as fans of both Green Day and My Chemical Romance when they were alive) pick this precise moment to rise triumphantly from their graves and chow down hungrily on the alien invaders.

Teenage Zombies plays very much like The Lost Vikings, a particularly enjoyable platform puzzler from way back in the early '90s. Each of the three main characters has different abilities that enable them to overcome the plethora of different obstacles present in the game. For example, skateboarder Zack is able to jump off ramps and fit through small openings, whereas lanky Lori can effortlessly reach high ledges. Finn, the final member of this undead trio, is able to scale walls thanks to some unpleasant tentacles that sprout from his back.

Ultimate success depends on the player utilizing the bizarre talents of these three heroes; the levels are designed in such a way that the powers of each character must be exploited in order to progress. Thankfully you can swiftly switch between them by simply tapping their coffin, which is displayed on the touchscreen during play.

Along the way you'll also encounter various power-up items that are specific to each zombie hero; for example, when Zack picks up a tyre he can temporarily turn his skateboard into a 4x4 monster that tramples all opposition underfoot. Finn and Lori also have access to special items such as Acid Puke (for burning through doors) and Vacuum Arm (for sucking up other items), respectively. More often than not the use of these additional powers is integral to successful completion of each stage.

Although fundamentally the main aim of the game is to get from one point of the level to the next, there are various sub-tasks for you to indulge in en-route. Body parts litter the levels and when you successfully collect an entire corpse you can reassemble it to regain all your health. Scoffing the fallen remains of your brain-shaped enemies can also reclaim vitality.

To round off the experience further, it's possible to partake in various mini-games dotted around the game environment. The majority of these are lovingly constructed tributes to previous classic titles like Dig-Dug, California Games and Resident Evil (if you remember those). Although these events serve only as a diversion from the main game and don't have to be successfully completed in order to progress, they're well worth discovering regardless.

Given the title of the game you'd expect humour to be a large part of the appeal here and thankfully that is most definitely the case; Teenage Zombies is a riotous laugh in a way that few video games ever manage to be. Not only does it contain very witty observations on a wide range of different media (not just games, but music, comics, TV and music as well) but it also showcases some brilliantly chucklesome moments, largely thanks to the unique comic book-style cut-scenes which require you to turn the DS on its side, as if it were a book. Granted, it's a device that has been used in other titles, but here it seems to fit the subject matter like a glove.

Sadly Teenage Zombies is guilty of possessing a few relatively disappointing shortcomings. It's not a particularly massive game and the challenge factor is relatively slight (although it's worth noting that you can bump up the difficultly level to increase the longevity of the game). The gameplay also tends to get quite repetitive after prolonged play because you're essentially doing the same thing over and over. The attractive level designs and sheer complexity of some of the routes you have to negotiate combat this issue to a certain degree but it remains an irksome problem nonetheless.

In spite of these quibbles it's very hard to severely fault Teenage Zombies – the inventive humour coupled with some excellent mini-games and pleasingly tight gameplay helps to create a thoroughly positive experience. If you're a fan of fun platform titles then this really does come highly recommended.
Teenage Zombies: Invasion of the Alien Brain Thingys!
Reviewer photo
Damien McFerran | 8 April 2008
Teenage Zombies is a refreshingly irreverent and playable platform romp that is only slightly sullied by some unfortunate repetition and an overall lack of challenge
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