You really can’t help but be curious about a game called Little Red Riding Hood’s Zombie BBQ. The questions just flood in. What kind of game is that? Are you really cooking zombies? Does Little Red Riding Hood have a tiny red minidress and a giant rack? And the answers are, in order: A vertically scrolling shooter; only when you’re using the flamethrower; and amazingly, yeah. They’re huge.
Fairy tale land has been invaded by the undead. And for some reason it’s up to a strangely sexed-up Little Red Riding Hood and nearly identical-but-slightly-lamer second playable character Momotaro (a male ninja with an underpowered shuriken gun), to take care of the invasion.
So, the little girl who needed a woodsman to protect her from a single wild dog straps on shotgun, flamethrower and machine gun and sets out to blow endless waves of zombies into gibs, including her own zombified grandmother and a humongous, cybernetic, undead Pinocchio. No, we don’t know how a wooden puppet becomes a mechazombie either, but when he’s throwing his head at you in an attempt to drive his massive, spear-like nose through your intestines, that’s hardly the point. And don’t get us started on Santa.
Gameplay itself is simple: Red stays at the bottom of the screen and walks forward, the bad guys erupting from the ground in front of her. You touch the screen anywhere you want her to unload with her machine gun. If she runs out of bullets, momentarily lifting the stylus from the screen reloads, and when you set it down again the carnage resumes. If she’s collected special ammo, she can double-tap to launch a grenade or touch the flamethrower or shotgun icons in the corners to equip those items in a pinch.
Little Red Riding Hood’s Zombie BBQ starts off a treat – the zombies actually break apart nicely as you blast them to bits, and there are only occasional moments when there’s so much onscreen that it all slows down. But the longer you play, the more you notice is wrong.
It starts with the controls. Moving side to side isn’t smooth at all. Basically, there are seven slots arranged horizontally along the bottom screen, and Red is always standing in one of them. So, if you’re in the middle of the screen and want to go all the way to the left, you have two options: you can tap the d-pad left three times, or you can just tap the far left cell with the stylus – but lifting the stylus will force you to stop shooting for the time that takes.
If you’re all the way to the left and then want to go to the far right, you have to press right on the D-pad six times, or touch it with the stylus. This is a really odd design decision. Was there something wrong with just giving the player free horizontal movement, as they’ve had in literally hundreds, if not thousands of other shooters? It just doesn’t make sense.
Two more odd decisions are the placement of the flamethrower and shotgun icons is in the upper portion of the screen and the fact that you even need them at all. Again, touching them means you have to stop shooting for awhile. Why not at least offer the option of using the shoulder buttons to toggle weapons? Or move the onscreen buttons somewhere easier to reach?
In an arcade-style game, anything that requires the player to take a break from shooting is a questionable call. We’re okay with reloading, but handicapping us with awkward controls is just uncool.
This is especially true in Little Red Riding Hood’s Zombie BBQ, because as you get deeper into the game, fewer and fewer enemies appear on the top screen. No, they’d rather pop up on the bottom screen, maybe even directly in front of Red and maybe in groups of three or more.
Sure, you can dodge some of them (possibly) because they often just walk straight down and offscreen. But the point is you’re going to have less and less warning that your life is in danger, and the gimped controls constantly handicap your ability to actually shoot the enemies.
Oh, and if you want to duck to avoid an attack? You don’t press down on the D-pad, even though that isn’t used for anything. No, you need to tap your actual character. Which requires you to stop … well, you get the idea. Basically, by the time you notice that Red has a French-ish accent in the limited voice-over moments but speaks in a typical teen-ditzoid accent in all her, like, totally awesome written dialogue, you’ll be too worn down by other flaws to gripe about it.
Nov 25, 2008