Platform: Arcade (Seta 1st Generation hardware) Developer: American Sammy Publisher: American Sammy Released: 1995 Genre: Lightgun Shooter Players: 1-2 (Co-op)
Zombie Raid is a curious combination of old and new- it utilises a shotgun controller where you have to pump the shotgun to reload, which was a novel idea at the time, and it also mounts the controller to the cabinet, reminiscent of Taito's classic Operation Wolf. It's appropriate, really, as this was one of the last sprite-based light-gun games outside the Point Blank series (and all of the rip-offs) and boy, does the genre go out with a bang. Well, almost. As the miserable detective Edward Windsor, you have to investigate the mysterious murders and grave-robbings plauging a 19th century English village... By blowing the living shit out of anything in your way.
As well as pinching the cabinet set-up from Operation Wolf, Zombie Raid plays a little bit like it too, in that each scene usually consists of the camera slowly panning from left to right- or vice-versa- as enemies jump on screen to kill you. Use the shotgun to make them dead. Obviously, there's a few differences between this and Operation Wolf, namely you don't have limited ammo (just pump the shotgun to reload) but you don't have any special weapons from the start either. You can sometimes find special weapons, though, such as an auto-fire item or a flamethrower, and really special weapons, such as a screen-clearing bomb and a lightning gun, are hidden away very well- the only way to find them is to shoot everything. While picking out some elements from Operation Wolf, Zombie Raid also adds in a few things of its own, such as the secret weapons, the boss fights and the surprising enemy variety, so it's a very competent game in this tried-and-tested mould.
More importantly, though, Zombie Raid deserves to be played above most other forgotten light-gun games because it revels in being completely over-the-top. Every time you kill an enemy, they spill their guts all over the shop, and if they're right in your face as you off them, their blood gets splattered on the screen! You can destroy grave-stones to find corpses propped up against them! Maggot-infested cadavers and human innards appear without warning! And that super-creepy moment where the music- ambient as it is- disappears for a while, and all you can hear is your heartbeat, then holy shit zombies out of nowhere! In essence, Zombie Raid is a nice entry in the light-gun shooter genre that also plays out like a shlocky horror film (the best kind of horror movie) and for any gore-hounds out there, this has to be seen to be believed.
Now, Zombie Raid would've been an essential light-gun game, but it's got two problems that hurt it quite a bit. The first is that some sections drag on for a bit too long- this isn't so bad at the beginning of the game, but near the end, you can tell the developers were just stretching it out for the sake of it, and it gets a little bit dull. However, there's usually a pay-off of some sort, whether it's a shocker moment or a boss fight. The other thing is that there's some moments where, no matter what you do, you're unable to stop taking damage- again, not so bad early on but really noticable in the later boss fights, and it smacks of the designers doing it just to siphon money out of you. Yeah, a lot of light-gun shooters have moments like this, but is there really a need for it? It hurts an otherwise very good game, but if you're willing to put up with this (and I'm sure you are, because you're almost certainly going to have to emulate this) then this is definitely one of the better sprite-based light-gun games, one that never got the attention it perhaps deserved upon release.
For giving The House of the Dead a run for its money, Zombie Raid is awarded...
In a sentence, Zombie Raid is... An almost-perfect eulogy for the sprite-based light-gun shooter.