It is a truth universally acknowledged, that in any context, zombies are awesome. This is because, unlike the werewolf, the vampire, the Loch Ness Monster, and many other mythical beasts, the simple zombie (also referred to as ghouls, the undead, among other terms) is mankind's greatest foe; indeed, it is ourselves, but without the burden of pain or emotions. This would be bad enough, but the puzzling, horrifying question of why they develop the taste for us is what makes them such a force to be reckoned with; which each of us they slay, another joins them...

... Alright, I'm done bullshitting you. Seriously though, zombies are great. Zombies in video games are also great, and if it's a lightgun shoot-em-up with zombies in it, consider me sold. Naturally, this means I'm a huge House of the Dead fan (although the 4th one is pretty crappy) but there's one game out there that can give that series a run for its money. Not only did it come out a year before the first HOTD, but it also used a shotgun controller- several years before House of the Dead III would offer any shotgun-based zombie-killin' shenanigans (unless you count Konami's Crypt Killers, which you shouldn't, because it's awful.) Its name is... Zombie Raid.

Released by American Sammy, which is the American arm of, uh, Sammy, Zombie Raid is an ultra-violent lightgun shooter, and when I say 'ultra-violent', I mean it. Around this time, there were a lot of video game developers vying for stardom by means of slapping in as much brutality as possible; games such as Time Killers, Bloodstorm and Blood Warrior (all of which are beyond awful, strangely enough) and it would seem that American Sammy wanted in on this. Hell, only a few years before, they distributed the horror that is Survival Arts, developed by Sekarabe (also known as Scarab, better known for Dyna Gear) which was based around the same idea (gore means money!) but, in actual fact, is possibly the worst beat-em-up ever made. No, really, it's that bad.

Fortunately, Zombie Raid is actually a very good game behind the gore, but good golly, Miss Molly! I haven't seen such utter disregard for human life since Braindead! Every single time you kill something in this game, they don't just keel over and die, oh no. They literally explode, exposing their ribcage and showing off their intestines and offal in a shocking display of over-the-top gore. This happens to every. single. enemy. Naturally, this never, ever gets old, it's just as funny the five hundred and seventh time you've seen it. The completely farcical nature of the gore lends the game a very cheesy B-movie feel, which is probably what American Sammy were going for...

The plot for the game is explained in the opening scenes on the next page, but the long and short of it is that there are some weird goings-on in a graveyard and nearby castle in England, 1918, and your character sets out to investigate with his gun. As for how it plays, my House of the Dead analogy may have been a little bit off, as Zombie Raid is a bit closer to Taito's classic Operation Wolf. The shotgun controller is actually mounted to the Zombie Raid cabinet, just like the uzi controller from Operation Wolf, so it's actually more likely to be an analogue stick disguised as a gun... Whatever it is, you move it around to fire at the various disgusting enemies, and you reload by using the pump on the underside of the controller, just like in House of the Dead III. That's pretty much all there is to it, really, although like in Operation Wolf, enemies will often jump right in front of you, and you'll need to take them out as soon as possible before they attack you... And when this does happen, and you kill them, their blood ends up dripping down the screen!

Obviously, there's plenty of items to pick up as well, sometimes hidden in not-so-obvious hiding spots... Shoot them to pick 'em up.

Rather unimaginatively, this simply adds to your score, which you only ever see after each stage and when you get a Game Over.

Anatomically Correct Human Heart
I wonder what this does?!? Don't be so silly. This gives you a bit of health back, natch.

Despite the deceptive description of 'Drink Me!' (how stupid does this game think you are?!) this causes you to take damage. Don't shoot it.

There are also three main weapons, aside from your standard gun. They are...

Auto is pretty much the same as the standard weapon, but you can simply hold the button down to fire, pausing only to reload. Unlike the other special weapons, you get 6 rounds instead of 4, which is nice. This is quite useful against the zombies when they gang up on you...

Er, hold up, don't we have a shotgun already? Maybe your character's gun is actually a rifle... In any case, the Shotgun upgrade gives your shots slightly more range, and they'll do a lot more damage- this is really useful for destroying background objects to get more items. Unfortunately, you only get 4 shots per reload.

Now this is the business! If there's a classy way of taking out zombies, this is it! The Fire upgrade gives you four shots per reload of flame-based chicanery. As an added bonus, fires will actually stay on screen for a few extra seconds, meaning they'll do damage to anything that gets too close, and this is the most powerful weapon, as it will rip through anything- monsters included- like butter.

Well, actually, there are six more items for you to collect, but they all appear only once, in special secret item rooms. I'll point out what they are and what they do when we get to them. In the meantime, though, there is most odious villainy afoot, so let's head to the graveyard and break some monster bones- let's play Zombie Raid!

Does this night remind YOU of the nightmare? Read on to find out!