Tag Archives: CuchuGames

REVIEW: Jimmy Vs. Zombies

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.

Jimmy Vs. Zombies - Screen

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.

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‘Overdriven’ gets Improved Visuals, Plenty of New Content

As I noted in my review of Overdriven, the shooter did nothing spectacular you hadn’t seen in other games, but was highly polished and fun. Soon after the review went up, developer CuchuGames expressed their interest in tweaking some of the art and bringing in additional modes for a later update, and they’ve now made good on that promise.

And then some. Not only have the art and graphics been completely redone (everything looks sharper / cleaner, including the HUD), but some of the enemies have been redrawn and their placements moved. Artifacts, the ‘keys’ you search for within each stage in order to unlock and progress, also have been moved and made easier to find. Players can select a second ship, which is mainly cosmetic, or a tackle a new, tougher difficulty, ‘Nightmare’. While the ‘overdriven’ mechanic remains intact, there is an new fire mode, ‘boost’ which increases the strength of your regular shot temporarily. It’s activated by picking up twenty stars, the score multipliers that are left behind from defeated enemies.

The real meat of this update comes with the two new modes, ‘Color Reflex’, which takes the color-matching puzzles from the main game and gives them a separate, 28 level challenge, and ‘The Line’, Overdriven‘s take on the classic survivor formula, with a twist; not only must you survive against increasingly-tougher waves of enemies, but you must prevent them crossing the thin red line at the bottom of the screen. That line inches upward and retreats as you play, increasing the tension. Topping off the update are extra awardments / fake achievements.

Overdriven has seen an original price of 240 MSP, then a drop and subsequent sale at 80 MSP, where it’ll likely stay. The new content and modes are welcome extras. There’s the (less-likely) possibility of another update down the road, even a sequel has been mentioned, although the developer hasn’t committed to anything just yet. Consider this the definitive version until further notice.

New player ship, enhanced graphics, improved HUD.

REVIEW: Overdriven

Shooters of any vein have typically been my bread & butter, so in watching the Dream.Build.Play trailer for Overdriven (80 MSP), I couldn’t help but take notice. It looked fantastic, for one, and all the not-too-picky elements I look for were present; one ship shooting a bunch of other ships in different and interesting ways. See, easy to please.

Overdriven takes on the vertical shmup across seven levels, using the shooter-standard ‘unknown alien invasion’ premise, ‘last human hope’ etc. etc for a setup. Sine Mora it is not. What Overdriven (the ship / pilot, not the title) does get is a pair of lovely ladies whispering sweet nothings into his / its ear, and by that I mean pertinent information about the current stage and twenty variations of ‘watch out!’.

The game’s big sell and namesake mechanic is a beam shot that slows your ship’s movement but makes for a stronger, concentrated fire. Health is also sacrificed while ‘overdriven’, dropping your ship to within an inch of its life. It creates a tense trade-off once the screen gets lively and comes in handy for the bigger baddies and end-level bosses.

In a twist, stages aren’t unlocked simply by beating the previous. Beyond the first three, you’ll have to find a set amount of ‘alien artifacts’ scattered around town or dropped by enemies (5 per stage) to earn the right to advance. I found (more like stumbled onto, all dumb luck-like) the majority the first time through, though there are some cleverly-hidden ones. For collectors, there’s plenty of said artifacts and oddities (hidden cows?) to find, set to excellent music throughout. Also seven level-specific challenges that play out like self-contained mingames, with Awardments to pin to your digital chest for bragging afterwards, do well to invite extra playtime after clearing the story.

Minor quirks abound. The game suffers from the same ‘bullet recognition’ problems as other shooters, with enemy fire hidden in your own leading to some cheap hits. The bosses don’t vary much (except in name) from stage to stage, and bits of the art recycle. In fact, Overdriven‘s only serious problem is its art, pretty as it is. Especially in darker stages and during a firefight, it becomes almost impossible to tell your foreground from background, leading to health-sucking grinds along barriers and / or deaths. Repeated runs through the level will commit these segments to memory, but it’s a mentionable annoyance that could be an issue for players on higher difficulties.

Otherwise, it’s reliable. The controls feel solid, shot patterns are tough but navigable, and it forgives almost as much as it forgets. Overdriven slips comfortably into its Bullet Hell suit, and posits a good challenge for both ends of the shooter skill set. It doesn’t do anything extraordinary with its shmup license, but it’s fast, fun, and assembled the right way. Competence is a compliment here.