There's not much I can say about this quirky little DS game offering apart from the fact, I kind-of like it. I don't love it, because that would be extremely hard for me to say about a game that's pitched towards kids more than mature gamers and I'm definitely in the latter bracket. I'm talking about the oddly named: Teenage Zombies: Invasion of the Alien Brain Thingys on the Nintendo DS. An odd little platformer that centres around the premise that aliens have invaded the planet and are zapping dogs, killing humans and generally doing that thing aliens do best in video games.
The dead don't take kindly to this and decide to rise from their graves, less Michael Jackson's Thriller style and more Invader Zim or Cartoon Network style; in fact I could see the graphical style of this game working as a cartoon on CN to be honest. You control three zombie schoolkids who are just as whacky as the name of the game. There's the ex-basketball player: Lori "Lefty" Lopez. Finnigan "Fins" Magee and finally Zack "Half Pipe" Boyd.
Each zombie has different skills, Lefty has a long arm so can reach ledges and so on. Half-Pipe has had the lower part of his body removed and therefore uses his skateboard to go through tight areas and fly off ramps Tony Hawks style. Fins, who used to be a bit of a swimmer was buried with a pet squid it seems and has mutated into a mix of squid and man, who can climb walls or grapple wires using the tentacles that are growing out of his back.
You'll switch between these three at will and use them to complete the puzzles, reaching the end of each level. Interspersing the action there are cut-scenes which are presented comic-book flip-style and the players have to flip the DS as if they were reading a book to change pages. There's a limited amount of voice work in the game and it's done fairly well, the writing is certainly decent and some of it's quite humorous. The controls are intuitive and the zombies, whilst slow (painfully slow) are decent to use. The game's story set over seven different worlds and 33 chapters in total could be a bit of a grind considering the slowness of the zombies and the game itself.
There is very little sound in the game and whilst the cut scenes are violent and action packed, the game presents itself in a laid back way where you can use powerups to rid yourself of a conglomeration of alien brains rather than rushing them action-hero style and dying repeatedly. It's one of those games that'll test certain player's brainpower, but not overly much. The key to success seems to be to adopt the same zombie-like wait and see attitude.
As you progress you'll find some touch-screen mini-games and I always think these have been added in just purely for fun. They're not really brain taxing and they provide a welcome and helpful diversion at the right time, there are some of the mini-games that are tricky to control and these can become fairly boring after repeated failures. It would be nice to see them serve some kind of purpose, but in the end I'm glad they didn't because there's nothing more frustrating than having to do a pointless mini-game that's hard to control to get to the next stage of the proper game.
Just like useless boss fights or near-impossible jumpy alien worlds in Half Life, yes, XEN, I'm talking about you! In closing, the game's not a terrible one; it's not a brilliant one. It lacks the same oomph as a game as it does a story, and whilst the comic book feel is well done in the cut-scenes the main game lacks in those areas and feels a bit tacked on.