Friday, November 1, 2013

"Zombie Nation", NES, 1990.

One more "scary" game ad before all the Hallowe'en candy is gone, then I have another theme week for you folks. There is nothing terribly frightening about this game, except for the premise of just how far astray a mistranslation can take you. It's the immortal Zombie Nation, and an ad lifted from Extralives at World 1-1.


Ny I.C. GOOLS, Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK - What appeared to be a harmless meteorite crashing in the Nevada desert has turned out to be Darc Seed, an evil alien creature with horrible powers. By shooting strange rays, Darc Seed has turned the helpless nation into zombie slaves.

Mayor Heminhaw immediately called an emergency press conference where he read the following prepared statement: "I um, er, ah, I am doing everything, ah, er, humanly possible to see to it that ah, this situation er, um, this terrible situation ah, comes to a ah, ahem, a swift and er, um, um, a swift and um, satisfactory close.

Ground Shaking NES Action

Zombie Nation is a ground shaking action / shooting game for the NES. The object of the game is to wreak total destruction on everything you see (it's a dark and dirty job, but somebody's got to do it). Meanwhile, you need to rescue as many zombie hostages as you can in order to gain enough strength for the ultimate showdown with Darc Seed (he's toast!)

Devastating Graphics and Pounding Sound

Zombie Nation's graphics are so devastatingly realistic you'll almost be tempted not to demolish them (yeah right!). And the relentlessly pounding sound effects will make you feel like you're right in the middle of the action hammering away at skyscrapers, mountains, and everything else that crosses your path. So don't just stand there like a Zombie, get your copy now!

It's unstated in this ad, but the first question players of the game have is "why am I a disembodied Japanese head horking ghostly sputum at buildings?" The story has it that the protagonist is the head of a samurai clan -- seemingly its chief, but also apparently its literal head. Perhaps as an avatar representing an entire player it can be filed with origin's Moebius and Windwalker, both of which reduced players to busts wandering around an exotified Orientalist landscape. (This head flies around and shoots; one wonders just how much vertical mobility the samurai chieftain possesses.)

Second to mind is that this game is really a rip on Cyberdreams' H.R. Giger showcase Darkseed, with its homonymic antagonist. What, was "Darth Vatur" taken?

The thing that jumps out for me in this ad copy is wondering just why there's so much emphasis on the landscape demolitions aspect of the gameplay? Ground shaking, ground shaking, wreak total destruction, devastating, hammering away at skyscrapers... sounds kind of like Rampage, but this, sir, is no Rampage. It does seem however that they had more space to fill than things to say, hence the serial parenthetical asides and the whole Mayor Quimby homage in the opening paragraph.

I don't know if the game contains "zombies" in the sense of "animated corpses" rather than just "mind-controlled living humans" interpretation, but the curious sculpture collage used as ad artwork here sure suggests the former. It's like a Wired magazine cover, somewhat difficult to interpret just what's going on; there's a very small car in the foreground (a Hot Wheels car? '57 Chevy, a classic!) crushed beneath a very large television set tuned to static. A trio of enormous zombies are behind them, in front of a very small supermarket (also dwarfed by a titanic rail crossing sign.) Behind it all lies a highly abstract background, plus an ominous hovering giant samurai head about to do its "wreak total destruction" act again. Just who is the menace to society here again?

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