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Up from (Super) Obscurity

Just to get this out of the way right off the bat: I am perhaps the world's biggest fans of the Super Nintendo game Zombies Ate My Neighbors, affectionately known as "ZAMN" for short.
Although maybe I should say I'm one of ZAMN's biggest fans; my e-buddy at VGJunk has written a pretty awesome/thorough/appropriately-gushing review of the game, which contains everything you need to know about ZAMN's awesome B-movie run-and-gun goodness.
However, today I'm going to contribute to the web's store of knowledge by addressing ZAMN's woebegotten sequel -- or should I say, pseudo-sequel* -- the generically-titled Ghoul Patrol
*: As I understand it, ZAMN was programmed by LucasArts, while Ghoul Patrol was the result of LucasArts giving JVC Musical Industries some(?) of the ZAMN engine/code and having them make a game with it...it wasn't even originally supposed to be a ZAMN-related game, but it was similar enough that they decided to name their characters Zeke and Julie, made them look relatively similar to the ZAMN protagonists, and called it a sequel.
On your left: ZAMN...to the right, Ghoul Patrol.
After having played Ghoul Patrol for a week or so...
I can see why no one has bothered to play much of it; its basically inferior in every way to ZAMN. I'll just breeze through its failings this week, and hopefully soon dig in to some of its worst problems in a more thorough (and picture-ful!) article in a future week...
But for now...Ghoul Patrol, let us enumerate your flaws!
  1. The weapons are forgettable, and virtually interchangeable as far as look/use/strength vs different creatures.
    In addition to your infinite-ammo crossbow, you can find about 5 other weapons, and all of them are basically laser guns.
    SOME of them kill certain enemies in 2-3 hits rather than 4-6 hits from your crossbow, but most are useless. WTF?!
    Compare this to the dozen or so very quirky weapons in ZAMN...all of which were distinctive and had a different purpose (well, ALMOST all of them).
    To add insult to injury, you can find all but one of the weapons and items in the first level without even looking very hard, and you find the last weapons/items in level 2!
  2. The levels are HUGE, yet usually pretty dull.
    They may not be a lot larger than some ZAMN levels, but they have lots of twists, turns, and locked doors, and they hide neighbors away in each of them. Of course, they don't really take the time to hide BONUS ITEMS away very well; maybe once every three or four levels, you're rewarded for poking into every nook and cranny.
    Then again, given that there AREN'T really many exciting weapons or items to find, how could they reward you? Yay, another first aid kit!
  3. You get 9 neighbors on every level no matter how many you lost last level
    this is basically required because of #B (how big and few the levels are); otherwise you could get down to 1 neighbor left, then potentially breeze through the rest of the game in seconds (there's only what, 16 or 20 levels?)
    ...but this could be one of the biggest flaws of the game: in ZAMN, you ALWAYS wanted to make sure you saved as many neighbors as possible...because if you lose a neighbor in this level, you start with one less neighbor on the next level...and if you ever lose your LAST neighbor, it's instant-game-over. However, in Ghoul Patrol, that vital gameplay element only matters because more neighbors = higher score.
  4. There might be as many different enemies as in ZAMN, but they're much less distinctive
    ...AND segregated out by "time period theme", such that you have 4-5 themes of enemies, with little opportunity for the great mix-n-match levels of ZAMN.
  5. Too-rapid respawning enemies that take too many hits to kill;
    Basically there's virtually no "silver bullet" weapons which are good against a set of enemies..and if there were, your ammo's too limited and they spawning too fast. It almost becomes a stealth game, or at least a "run AND RUN" rather than "run-and-gun" :P
  6. You get relatively useless Slide and Jump abilities, plus an ammo-wasting Eventual Dash ability...
    which don't hurt much until you're forced to do PLATFORMER JUMPING
    Beat-em-Ups and Run-and-Guns-Where-You-Have-Lots-Of-Energy should NEVER introduce platforming mechanics...because when they do, you can slip off a cliff and lose the equivalent of ten or fifteen fighting mistakes from one jumping mistake :P
So...yeah.
But there's a few things it does well:
  1. The bosses are cooler-looking (and they have different bosses!)
    ...but have the same problem as ZAMN bosses: you better Monster Out and pound on them while invulnerable, or you'll get zapped a lot. They all take forever to kill, soak up hundreds of hits, and it is totally unclear if any weapon is working better than any other weapon.
  2. The "neighbors yell from off screen" rather than "neighbor radar" kind of works.
    ZAMN has a "nearby neighbor radar", which is good but short-range. Ghoul Patrol has "Help!" and "Over Here!" word-bubbles periodically fly in from an edge of the screen, which indicates the direction of the nearest neighbor.
    It's kind of neat because it means you'll always know where you can go to find a neighbor, even if they're very far away.
  3. Having your items triggered by "select" and toggled with the L/R wing buttons (rather than another button) is kind of cool;
    It means there's less times when you'll accidentally use an item when you wanted to shoot or switch weapons.
    Of course, there aren't really any cool items (other than the de regeur health-boosts and the vital "Monster Out" potion). There's even one "power down" item, which hurts you if you choose to use it:
Pictured in my inventory above: the ever popular "cut my energy in half" potion, just in case you want the game will end sooner!
To summarize, I'll use a picture from the game's unnecessary introductory cut-scene:
...Indeed
— carlmarksguy, 2012-12-21
1
Also, while I can't remember the music from Ghoul Patrol I'm certain it's nowhere near as good as ZAMN's soundtrack (because it's the best).
2
I think I'm completely tone-deaf: I never even think to mention video game sound effects, let alone music! However the ZAMN tunes are great, and Ghoul Patrol even steals a lick or two from them, here and there (I think when you save the last victim and the "exit" appears, they play a bar or two of ZAMN's 1st level tune, something like that).
3
So many lame assonance titles! Ghoul Patrol, Ghoul School, Cool Ghouls Rule the Pool! featuring Zuul (okay I made that last one up)
4
Most definitely! I donno why Ghouls are cursed by assonance. However, "Ghoul School" is friggin' amazing, somewhere between Dr. Chaos and Metroid, and I strongly recommend it. I think it has a bad wrap because it has a slight case of "Deadly Towers" syndrome (you start a little bit weak, but def. not as week as in "Deadly")
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