Written: 10.29.10 Acquired: 3.23.06 Status: Cart only Price:$6.49
Ghouling up, [Oh dear -Ed.] Ghoul Patrol was one of those games I always wanted to play, but never did. It was the "sequel" to one of my most favorite two player SNES games ever, Zombies Ate My Neighbors. This past October, I've finally quelled a near sixteen year long curiosity. Was it worth the wait and also, how did the follow-up to the classic original fare? Don your 3D glasses -- let's rock 'n roll
Zombies Ate My Neighbors Too! Oh, how I wish...
ZOMBIES ATE MY NEIGHBORS
In 1993, Zombies Ate My Neighbors crept up on an unsuspecting gaming nation and took it by storm. It graced the covers of video game magazines, earned high scores and accolades across the board, and very much like the game itself, there was no end in sight to its popularity. It became a cult classic. A two player zombie romp, players were madly thrusted into numerous B-movie levels and faced off with mutant spiders, werewolves, evil dolls, mummies, aliens and even a towering titantic toddler. It was a brilliant pastiche of various gaming genres: shooter, quest, puzzle and action... heck you could even say survival horror. Along the way there's plenty of camp, gags and dark humor that gave the game such an endearing 'soul' to it. Not only was it one of the SNES' best in 1993, some say it was one of the best, PERIOD "OH SUSIE -- WE'RE JUST DYING TO EAT, UH, MEET YOU!"
ZAMN contains over 50 levels of sheer mayhem. Each level has a clever name of sorts. This one, I Was A Chainsaw Maniac, is one of my favorite levels in the game. Set in a giant crate factory, you must locate keys to rescue cheerleaders and drooling babies... all before the masked maniacs can get to them! Nothing gets the ol' pulse beating quite like hearing the sound of chainsaw buzzing in the air and seeing two burly mad men give chase as you zip, bob, dodge and weave through this hellish factory!
Back in the day, my old best friend Nelson and I used to play the living daylights outta Zombies. We used to huddle around the Sony TV and shout, laugh, scream and cry all at the same time. Such was the diverse range of emotions ZAMN delivered. One second you could be bowling over in laughter at the "slightly perverse" humor, and the very next second screaming in pure anguish as innocent lives perish at the hands of the various monsters. I can't think of too many games that takes you on such a wild roller coaster ride as Zombies does. It's not much as a one player game, but with two, it's one of the best on the SNES. Even to this day, it's one of the system's most beloved games. Like the many horror movies it freely borrows from, Zombies Ate My Neighbors has developed quite the cult following. When I think of ZAMN I can't help but smile (and also get a bit mad -- the game was NAILS tough!). It just reminds me of a simpler time. When the biggest care in the world was being accepted in the 5th grade, whether or not your crush liked you back, and finishing your homework. The fun memories this game conjures with my old best pal Nellyis enough to make this rambling recollective retro renegade reach for a Kleenex or two. A sequel sure would have a LOT to live up to... which brings us to...
Unofficially the "spiritual" sequel to ZAMN, it's never mentioned but yeah, the characters are the same with similar gameplay. I was so curious about Ghoul Patrol back in '94, but my bro and I never got around to play it. One vivid memory of GP that stands out to me to this day: it was some time in 1995 and I was at Software Etc. I saw this game marked at $19.99 while all the other SNES games were $50 or more. I could not believe my eyes! I asked an employee that I wasn't dreaming. "Hey, is Ghoul Patrol REALLY selling for just twenty bucks?" The clerk nodded. At a time when SNES games were going for $49.99 and even up to $79.99, $19.99 just seemed crazy! Unfortunately I didn't capitalize on the deal, but I remember going home that day with the game on my mind. I mean, being the "sequel" to Zombies Ate My Neighbors, it was already on my mind. But on top of that, just $20?! My young mind rationalized that maybe the game had only like three levels... I don't know... like a "shareware Doom" version or something. Or maybe... the game totally blows? I remember thinking, "No way, that's crazy impossible!" Well, nearly 16 years later, I finally found out...
THE STORY GOES...
THE GHOUL PATROL
The original Zeke and Julie from Zombies Ate My Neighbors
And their Ghoul Patrol make overs... she get a nose job?
The first game had a ton of weapons and they were all rather silly which added to the zany campy fun of the game. Chucking silverware and tomatoes aren't exactly "serious" weapons. In Ghoul Patrol though, you only have five weapons and there's no humor behind any of them. Thankfully though, you won't have to scroll through countless weapons and the crossbow has unlimited arrows. Ammo in ZAMN was always an issue of concern, but never here in Ghoul Patrol
NAME OF THE GAME IS THE SAME... YET NOT... ERR...
Yep, still gotta save all the neighbors, or victims
Sadly, GP's victims lack the charm of ZAMN's
WORLD ONE: THE METROPOLIS
Time period unconfirmed, but some time in the '80s is a safe bet!
[Take Old Yeller out back and... -Ed.]
Still gotta collect keys. New are the chicken meat much like a beat 'em up
Although the victims aren't as "charming" as the neighbors in ZAMN, this unlucky old bloke is quite a hoot. Some folks just have all the (bad) luck, eh?
You almost want to leave him behind, the git!
Love the new graphical touches to the exit door though
Gone is the campy fun of the monsters, for the most part
"How about you borrow some Old Spice first? SHEESH!"
"Uhhh, where's that bus? I've been waiting so long...."
In each world there are 3 or 4 stages followed by a gigantic boss. This is another big difference from the first game. Ghoul Patrol is much more straight forward while ZAMN had all sorts of secrets. The boss battles are the gimpy invincible potion and hack away sort. The somewhat stiff control makes a "clean" fight virtually suicidal. The first boss is a towering machine warhead. Use your items to defeat him
Like one of them giant '80s robot toys I had, hmm
WORLD TWO: ANCIENT CHINA
Zeke and Julie in ancient China? You can almost hear the "jump the shark" whispers...
Here's a good time to use the new slide feature, w00t
SAFE! Well, not for long! Run along Zeke boy!
Ahhh... this brings back memories no doubt...
Hey I never said GOOD memories! =P
This isn't good, no, but it could be worse, yes?
Well, better the kid than me!
Ah nice! Saved by the stone! Utterly satisfying, this
Each time period has its own unique victims. As stated earlier, they're just not the same as in the first game. Here, they're just... kinda there. Sure it's a small thing, but it all adds up in the end no matter. It always does
Yes, dude is chowing down a bowl of rice
Observe the worst feeling in the world, or at least, in this game
Yikes! When keys run low, the time taken to secure the next one can make all the difference between life and death. Oddly, the enemy AI in Ghoul Patrol isn't as relentless as the baddies in ZAMN. Those skeleton samurai spirits are pretty savvy, but most other enemies, they kind of just meander around, even with victims in the vicinity. A bit odd, but it helps out the gamer, for sure
The game gives you enough keys though if you play from level 1
Infuriating! Ah, the life of a Ghoul Patroller
The second boss is the Demon Warlock. They all look bad, nasty and big, but they're all the same essentially. Power up!
Mighty big sword there pal. Compensating for something you once had?
WORLD THREE: CRAZY CARIBBEAN
More jumping the shark, pardon the pun...
THANKS GamePro. But no, seriously, don't
Beware of rolling barrels. They'll smash in walls, or you, if you're not careful!
Poor Julie. Caught in the JAWS of life.... [You're fired -Ed.]
If you have the red potion on ya then you can...
"YER NEXT, GIMPY LEG!"
Don't think Death went to Kindergarten! Handy for ripping walls, though
Use the blue potion to be invincible. Shoot. Rinse and repeat
WORLD FOUR: MEDIEVAL MADNESS
Also new to this "sequel" is the ability to jump (the shark) [Stop that -Ed.]
It gets BRUTAL later, believe you me
[Har har... don't quit yer day job... oh wait... -Ed.]
The Castle World cranks up the difficulty quite a bit
Once more, a friend can join in the fray. As a one player game, I find Ghoul Patrol more manageable than ZAMN. Not to say I like it better, but the enemies aren't as ruthless seeking out to kill the victims, so I actually get more "game time" out of the 1P mode in this game than the first one. Two player mode is fun too, but of course, doesn't touch ZAMN. And as you can see here, the later jumps get a bit ridiculous!
What is this, the prison from HELL!?
After defeating Sir Raleigh MacSpirit, you're out of the Medieval times to the final world: Ghosts and Demons Land! It's a world of lava, Grim Reapers and then that "funky Demon dude" that you've unleashed from an eternal slumber. Good luck!
The good ol' goo melting down the screen for Game Over returns
[What, there wasn't a thumbs down icon? -Ed.]
Get a password for each new world, except the last, d'oh!
GHOUL PATROL'S COOLEST MOMENT
I love Pee Wee's Big Adventure. It's a film from my childhood that I still love watching today. It's a bit kooky, it's got some chills, thrills and plenty of cheap frills. In a way, it has a lot in common with Zombies Ate My Neighbors in that regard. And both, I try to watch/play it at least once a year. Both have a good amount of charm and both are cult favorites. So why am I bringing up this old Tim Burton film, aside from my own sick perverse pleasures? Ghoul Patrol pays homage to this epic movie! What, you don't believe me? You say there was absolutely NOTHING from the game that in any way, shape or form gave a nod to the 1985 cult classic? LOOK AGAIN!
Ah, one of my favorite scenes from the film, classic!
It's so ridiculous it's awesome, haha. Movie was filled with nonsensical goodness
"Oh please don't kill me -- WAIT! I've a great idea! Allow me to win you goons over first" *pops a quarter in the jukebox*
Roaring laughter, hi-fives and FaceBook add's ensue... of course
Of course, the best scene hands down in the movie is the infamous Large Marge highway truck scene. As a kid, it gave me the willies, and even today, I marvel at how brilliantly simple and simply brilliant it all is. I love Pee Wee's comment "Some night huh?" as he climbs into the terror truck. And of course, the payoff came with this zany shot that used to scare me as a kid. The proceeding diner scene sealed it though as one for the ages. The whole "HER GHOSSST!" scene goes down in cinematic history as one of the best ever. GREAT stuff! ~_^
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Ghoul Patrol, unlike Zombies Ate My Neighbors, didn't grace any video game magazine covers, earn any "Game of the Month" honors, or have people singing its praises... but it didn't do too badly in the presses. Well, at least from the 'Big Three' as endorsed here on RVGFANATIC ;)
EGM:7, 8, 8, 8, 8
GameFan:70, 78, 79
It's a bit unfair to compare Ghoul Patrol to Zombies Ate My Neighbors, but it goes with the territory. And as such, it falls short. It's missing the camp, charm, frenetic sense of urgency, secrets, and that inexplicable "Oooh, I can't wait to see what's next!" factor. Ghoul Patrol is just straight forward and leans a bit too much toward "seriousness" which just doesn't work for me personally. That's not to say it isn't a good game. I actually think it is. On its own, it's enough to provide a solid weekend or two of ghoul-blasting mayhem. Graphically, it's better than ZAMN. The huge bosses are a sight for sore eyes and it plays familiarly to the original although character control is a bit stiffer. Other new features such as more platforming thanks to the jump button give the game some zest
Grim Reapers, giant killer robots, what else could ya want?!
Unfortunately, in every other area, ZAMN smokes Ghoul Patrol. However, sequels often are hard pressed to recapture the magic and build on it. I still had fun with it as I explored the tried and true worlds. I liked the ability to run, jump and slide. The chicken meat came in handy too. Still a shame there wasn't a 'lock' or 'stafe' button. In these 8 way shooter type games, such a feature goes a long way. Zeke and Julie don't play differently, and they're a bit harder to control from their first Super Nintendo outing. This will cause some frustration as you eat unnecessary damage from the quick ghouls and whatnot. I don't know why the running button is the same as the shoot button, yikes. But hey, taken for what it is, it's a pretty good two player romp. It's a bit more forgiving than the original, which was balls tough. The enemies here don't chase down the victims you need to save per se, and the victim count doesn't drop for the next level. In other words, the game does not penalize ya. Trust me, I'm not complaining about that! Aside from some stiffer control which you'll get used to, it's solid ghoul blasting fun. Just don't expect the camp, charm or cult classic that was Zombies Ate My Neighbors, and you'll be fine. Like any above average to pretty good movie or game sequel, Ghoul Patrol won't win any awards nor see fans forsake the original for it, but fans won't curse its existence, either. It's still a title well worth owning and playing every Halloween season or so, just not in lieu of its older cousin
Graphics: 8 Sound: 8 Gameplay: 7 Longevity: 6.5
Indeed, lacking from Ghoul Patrol, but we'll always have the original :)