Poor Jimmy. He had it all. A successful band, a brainy girlfriend, and an awesome guitar. Too bad that ‘evil spawn’ Nathan envied that shiny music-maker, so much that he conjured up a spell to make the dead rise from their graves, purely to steal that fabled axe. Such is the story behind Jimmy Vs. Zombies (80 MSP) a modern day parable for not coveting thy neighbor’s guitar, or something.
Imagining itself as a cross between a run & gunner and a zombie wave shooter, Jimmy Vs. Zombies brings to the table much of what you’d expect from the pairing (2D art, co-op, zombies, fire / plasma gun upgrades that last a limited time), and a little bit of something you wouldn’t; Grandmother Tower Defense (yes, setting up a defensive perimeter around a wheelchair-bound grandmother).
It’s not quite run & gun, though, more a stand-in-place & gun. Stages take on the appearance of being fully-explorable but are really just glorified arenas that last a line of eight continuous waves. The later rounds tend to go on a little longer / get a little crowded, but your chosen zombie killer has some backup in tow (deployable turrets and mines). The threat isn’t strictly limited to the standard zombie types (walker / acid spitter / brute) either, as bat variants can become an aerial nuisance. A watchful eye and careful use of weapons / allies is needed to hold back the staunchest group of walkers.
Smart play is good for business. Building and maintaining a high combo during the waves will net you more cash, with the money earned able to be put towards permanent prizes in the ‘shop’, like extra health, continues, or costumes for the two main characters, Jimmy and Andrea. Other neat extras, like an additional character or a Survival mode (a quick way to earn massive cash, FYI), help extend and give purpose to the playtime. And it is fun, for a short while.
Strangely, the game undercuts the player that chooses to play alone. While it’s probably best (and more fun) to play with a friend, it’s evidently balanced with that local co-op in mind, as solo slayers will find it quite literally an impossible task, at least without fully-upgrading the health and fire rate of either character first. Even then, the zombies vastly outnumber you, and you’ll need to make every shot / turret / mine count after you’ve reached the third or fourth stage.
That kind of difficulty is made worse by the lack of any interesting particulars (minus protecting the grandmother; that bit was novel, if unexplained). The idea behind the game is somewhat sound, but the execution is flawed. What’s left isn’t enough to get anyone excited. At best, Jimmy Vs. Zombies is a roguish gamble for solo players, or a repetitive shoot em’ up for two friends to spend a few sessions on.