Nowadays, games are divided into two carts: the first cart follows technology, spawning next-gen consoles with realistic graphics and movement, and the second tracks back the root of technology, trying to make something similar to how old games feel. Zombie Incident is counted as the second cart; not only it was made old-school – it was developed using old-school hardware.
Since a small chunk of history would not hurt, Zombie Incident was developed by NeneFranz and the team for MSXdev’11 contest, a game development contest using old school hardware, that MSX system used back to develop games in Japan. Taking the 1st place in the contest, the team wanted to bring the game to other platform so people can enjoy it, too, and CoderChild helped the team publishing the game – to the Nintendo 3DS eShop.
Following Nana, the girl you can see in the title screen, you will explore the citadel of Hamartia, that is clouded with seven deadly sins. Turned into the den of zombies, Nana have to collect eight stars by exploring Hamartia to either revoke the citadel from evil, or instead revoked from life is she is died in the process.
Developed similar to old-school games, Zombie Incident adopted the very similar control of most NES platformers: run and jump onto the enemies. That is what Nana can really do – sadly – but the scheme of the game is actually pretty good. Hamartia is divided into rooms – or screens if you prefer – each one is marked by certain color on your bottom screen.
It takes a grinding-like system where you have to defeat certain amount of enemies before taking down the stronger one. The red color indicates that the enemies are too strong to kill, so you have to seek a room coded by green color and increase your level there. So your journey actually would be more linear, since you could not explore rooms by random – while first I thought the game would be Metroidvania-like.
Just defeat all enemies in a screen and you will rewarded with either XP for leveling up, or Heart to add life to your bar. Upon defeating all enemies in a screen, sometimes a door will be opened and you can check if there is a star to collect – also as a checkpoint. This scheme makes it is obligatory to kill all zombies on your screen to progress.
The limitation of Zombie Incident is that using old-school hardware makes scrolling between screens impossible. It sometimes make the gameplay difficult since you cannot really perceive where to set your foot after falling from upper screen. But everything else is fine, including the stereoscopic 3D and chiptune added to the 3DS port – of course. The availability of online leaderboard would also help you compete with each other, too.
Nonetheless, Zombie Incident is a nice title if you want to taste some old flesh, with its nostalgia and its limitation. A $2 in the Nintendo 3DS eShop would not really hurt for a retro feel, right?