There are many typical platform games on the market for the Nintendo DS, most of them follow the same basic premise and are on the most part forgettable. With an unusal plot, Teenage Zombies takes two typical horror genres, Aliens and Zombies and mixes them together in a battle to the redeath. Although the Zombies may actually be teenagers, the games manages to refrain from the stereotypes that have plagued the teenage years since Harry Enfield introduced the world to Kevin.
The three rotting protagonists creatively named, Lori "Lefty" Lopez, Finnigan "Fins" Magee and Zack "Half-Pipe" Boyd each have their own unique abilities which will aid the continuation of their mission to destroy the Alien Brains. Lefty has the ability to extend her arm so that she can reach higher than any of the other characters, Fins is part teenager-part octopus and with his tentacles is able to scale the walls and ropes around the levels and Half-Pipe is half a teenager and is attached to a skateboard so he is able to move easily in smaller areas.
Throughout the first few levels all of these characters are discovered, and it soon becomes apparent that the player is able to swap between the three at their own will to continue their mission. To change character, the player simply taps the touchscreen and the swap will be complete. Whereas in other titles, such as The Legend of the Mystical Ninja: Staring Goemon, would have both an animation and a sound effect when swapping characters, Teenage Zombies does not. This just means that player needs to be paying a lot of attention to see if their change is complete.
At first the level design is complicated to a degree, and it may take a little while to initially realise what character to use and at what point. However, as the game progresses it becomes apparent that the level design is incredibly linear and the player is unable to progress without collecting the items in the correct sequence.
Further, this linear level design makes the option between characters far more limited. Initially, the player is able to use the character that they want for a fair part of the level, but as the game progresses the need to use a certain character becomes painfully obvious. This actually detracts some of the enjoyment out of trying to solve the puzzles in a more creative manner.
Although the game is painfully linear, the design of the levels, environment and characters is very creative. Whilst the developers may not have used the Nintendo DS's full graphical power, the comic book style of this title dictates how the rest of the game should look. Throughout Teenage Zombies it feels like a graphic novel coming to life, and many of the characters and the designs could easily have been lifted from a comic book itself. Teenage Zombies may have a dark, dank design, as it should do, it does not detract from the overall enjoyment of the game as everything is clearly viewable and at no point does the background blend into the level design.
Even the voice acting has been done well in this title. The opening sequences to Teenage Zombies are in a comic book format, and the DS actually has to be turned around to read and follow what is being said. Throughout this opening sequence there is a throwback voice actor to the old Batman TV series. The voice actor has done this very well and at no point does it sound tinny or crackly. The background music has also been done well, but is ultimately forgettable.
An issue that a player may come across is the humour in the game. It uses a mix American and Strongbad humour, which to some is the peak of the artform, and to others there's nothing worse.
With over 50 different levels, the developers have tried to make Teenage Zombies a lengthy title, and owing to the linear level design, this is unfortunately not the case. It does not take long to get through most of the levels, even with the mini-games that are slotted in-between. Although the title is long enough to hold the players attention for a fair length of time, it's ultimately too short.
Final Verdict - 7/10
In a battle of the two archetypal horror genres, Zombies and giant Alien Brains, Teenage Zombies: Invasion of the Alien Brain Thingys takes two known and loved genres and tries to create a platformer out of them. The title feels like a throwback to some of the older platforming games from the SNES era; however, the length of the title it's biggest flaw.