Little Red Riding Hood’s Zombie BBQ (NDS)
Genre: Rail Shooter
Release Date: 10/28/2008
And the award for the Best Name for a Video Game Ever goes to… *drumroll*… Little Red Riding Hood’s Zombie BBQ!
Now that we’ve gotten that little formality out of the way, we can continue with the review proper.
Oh, though I should mention that this is not, as the name suggests, a survival horror title staring Anthony Bourdain in drag traveling the world in search of undead pork. It is, rather, the story of a terribly fan-service-styled classical fable heroine teaming up with a ninja that was born in a peach in order to fight zombies. Which makes about as much sense as the first idea.
1. Story / Modes
The wolf is dead, the fight is over, and Little Red “Ready to Rock” Riding Hood is ready to rest. But then! Zombies! AIEE! So she must fight on to free Fairy Tale Land from the vice-like grip of the undead. Oh, and a Ninja shows up to fight too. Because they do that, you know (though I did notice a disturbing lack of flipping out and killing people, which I was lead to believe ninjas did all the time).
Each level takes on a different fable in a dark and twisted way. And yes, this has not only been done to death, but had the idea raised from the dead, made two Weekend At Bernie’s style movies about it, and beat it to death again. LRRHZBBQ (which also won Best Acronym of the Year) takes this process one step further by battering the concept, deep frying it, and serving it on a stick with powdered sugar.
That is to say that the story here remains fresh and inventive for a sadly old trope, which is quite a feat. The plot stays irreverent, yet true to the original narrative, and always surprising. A giant golem Pinocchio, the Three Little Pigs police state, it’s always an innovative and amusing twist.
To be honest, I thought the name said it all about this game, and that it would be an amusing diversion. In the end, it ended up being a much more surprising (and entertaining) accomplishment than I could have ever expected.
Story / Modes Rating: Great
Graphically, Little Red Riding Hood’s Zombie BBQ is a bit of a mixed bag. There’s some great inked/painted artwork between the levels, but then you’ve got enemies that look like rejected bobble-headed dolls. You’ve got a zombie cat that chases a skeleton of a fish, but then you’ve got a terrible slowdown that happens any time too many enemies/objects are on the screen at once (something that happened too frequently for my taste, though not often or bad enough to ruin the game).
There’s a nice variety of enemies, with new ones added each level. I swear I saw a Mario-zombie, but that could have simply been an Italian-Stereotype-zombie instead. The bosses are definitely a highlight of the game, and had me chuckling to myself a time or two. Overall, the graphics aren’t much in and of themselves, but the design more than makes up for it.
Oh, and Red’s skirt lifts up to flash her panties every time she ducks.
Told you there was fan service.
Graphics Rating: Enjoyable
I must say I was quite surprised by the sound in this game. The music is astonishingly catchy, while unobtrusive to the gameplay. Sound effects are pretty run of the mill and simple, while the voice acting… stereotypical is a rough word to use, so let’s say… thematic instead. Perky and/or butch voices with thick Japanese accents fill the game. “Shotu-gun!” and “Framethrower!” said with such enthusiasm and enjoyment seem to take away any offense to be had. Sound quality is solid, enjoyable, and amusing, all at once.
Sound Rating: Good
4. Control / Gameplay
They’ve kept the controls pretty simple on this one, as befits a straight shooter. Hold the stylus on the screen to aim and fire. When you need to reload (you’ll be reminded by a helpful, red, flashing “RELOAD” sign on your screen) simply lift the stylus and place it down again to resume fire. If you’ve got the ammo, you can double tap to fire a rocket or grenade. This does lead to problems, however, if you try to reload too quickly, or don’t keep the stylus firmly on the screen. I’ve accidentally shot off a rocket before I meant to a couple of times while playing. (What? That sentence is perfectly innocuous. Quit giggling.)
If a zombie gets too close and grabs you, tapping your character will cause you to decapitate the decrepit deadite. The rest of the time, tapping will cause you to duck; which is useful for avoiding projectiles. As it’s a rail-shooter, you can also tap any square along the bottom of your screen to slide to that position; which is also useful for avoiding both projectiles and enemies. You can use the D-Pad as well, but it’s slower and doesn’t look as cool. Again, in the heat of battle, it can be a pain, and you’ll have the occasional mis-tap, but it’s a pretty good system nonetheless.
Speaking of zapping zombies, your basic weapon is a machine gun (or shuriken) and has unlimited ammo. You can pick up other weapons, like a shotgun or a flame thrower, but their use is limited to a few shots before they disappear. You can shoot up into the second screen, but the divide between the two can make aiming a little difficult.
LRRHZBBQ once again surprises and amazes with the depth of its gameplay. I was expecting a simple shooter; top down scrolling with easy to predict patterns. With almost every level I was pleasantly surprised to be wrong. Bosses will switch patterns on replays (especially after you die) and the game itself throws a couple of curves your way in the style of play, speeding up and slowing down, or sometimes even changing direction. For a budget title with a goofy name from a foreign company they certainly have put in more than their fair share of work to make this game really something.
Control / Gameplay Rating: Good
LRRHZBBQ is a fun game for killing time. The levels are short(ish) enough that if you’ve got a few minutes to spare, loading up the game and wasting a few zombies can kill the time as good as anything. There’s also the promise of finding the true ending on higher difficulties. In addition, you can unlock Boss Attack and Survival modes, which should help pass the time nicely in little gibbety bite-sized chunks.
Replayability Rating: Above Average
The game gets progressively more difficult as you play, so there are times when you hit a wall or two, but nothing that seems insurmountable. Sometimes the swarming can get overwhelming and seems like the game is ganging up on you, but smart gameplay over firepower will win out more often than not. There are times, though, that you seem locked in a blind corner and only good luck will help you avoid the incoming attacks. So it’s not perfect, but far from the typical “cheating” fare of other similar games.
Balance Rating: Above Average
In case I didn’t make this clear in the Gameplay section, let me reiterate. EnjoyUp has done the impossible and managed to make an old idea fresh and entertaining. It’s not Fables (no, not Fable, Fables. Read a book!) by any stretch, but it does bring something new to the table, and other developers should take a lesson.
Originality Rating: Great
For as much fun as Little Red Riding Hood’s Zombie BBQ is, it didn’t really hold me in any kind of thrall. It’s more of a pick-up and put-down at your leisure kind of a game, rather than some sort of addictive brain candy. It’s fun to play, but it won’t make you late for an appointment.
Addictiveness Rating: Decent
9. Appeal Factor
If the name alone doesn’t have you smiling, you need to seek professional help. Perhaps it’s Seasonal Affective Disorder? My friend has problems with Winter and Autumn. They give him prescriptions, they shine bright lights on him. Maybe that would help you. Or maybe playing a game where you get to shoot a zombified Santa Claus with a giant laser beam would help. Besides, the DS screen is pretty bright, so it could be the best of both remedies. I just know that I usually prefer to go for the killing of mythic near-deities when I feel sad. Beats thinking about warm woolen mittens (I mean really, how does that cheer someone up?).
Appeal Factor Rating: Great
It’s hard to nail down one bit of miscellanea about this game; there’s quite a lot of it. I mean, it’s made by the Spanish to look Japanese for crying out loud. The opening starts with “Once upon a time” with falling bullet casings looking for all the world like the opening of a John Woo film. And did I mention there is a famous Japanese Folk Hero/Ninja/Demon Slayer that you can play for no good reason? Or that he was born inside a peach?
Hmm.. so yeah, the Japanese angle looks like a good take on the Miscellaneous category for this one. The most Japanese game to ever come from Spain! (there’s a headline for them)
Miscellaneous Factor Rating: Very Good
Story / Modes: Great
Control / Gameplay: Good
Replayability: Above Average
Balance: Above Average
Appeal Factor: Great
Miscellaneous Factor: Very Good
FINAL SCORE: GOOD GAME
Short Attention Span Summary
At only $20, Little Red Riding Hood’s Zombie BBQ is an easy choice. It’s a solid budget title that will have you chuckling your way through the slaughter.