Tag Archives: Ghere Game Studios (Developer)

REVIEW: Last Stand

As you can no doubt surmise from the screenshots, Ghere Games’ Last Stand ($1.00) is a wave shooter1 featuring the ever so undead, set in a dreary-looking underground bunker populated by yourself— the only ‘living’ resident— and a horde of snazzily-dressed yet oddly-shaped zombies. You can probably guess what happens next, and what your job in this apocalypse is going to entail.

Last Stand - Screen

Following the well-trodden path of Call of Duty‘s formula for dispatching zombies, Last Stand takes place in a series of similar (like really similar, like exactly the same) rooms, walled off by barricades that can only only be felled by the hard-earned cash2 you get from eliminating those undead. The zombies themselves will occasionally drop ammunition and temporary buffs to aid in your quest for money and bunker space, such as double cash, double-sized magazines for your guns, and an insta-kill powerup.

That money can also be used to buy a trio of new weapons beyond your trusty starting pistol; a shotgun, a semi-auto rifle (think sniper), and assault rifle. Your upgraded arsenal comes in handy, as the zombies will get more powerful as the round goes on, requiring multiple shots to finally be put down.

Last Stand - Screen2

And you’ll wish they didn’t. The combat is dull and repetitive, as are the zombies’ damage animations, strangely morphing from walking, to crawling, then back to walking as you shoot them. Add to this a lot of other annoying little issues and glitches, such as getting stuck in doorways between rooms, zombies running in place (oh, and invulnerable to boot!), weird pauses and hiccups in the game, and it all makes for a very unsatisfying experience.

One you’d be keen to avoid. It’s functional (to an extent), but cheaply done, a drag to look at in motion, and even more lifeless3 than one of the developer’s previous, Zombie Hunter IV. Even excusing the use of the undead (which I’m not) and grading it solely as a wave shooter, Last Stand isn’t very competent, or fun. At all.

  1. Sort of. There is no ‘start’ or ‘end’ to the waves; the zombies are just always around. They never leave. 
  2. There’s some good life advice in that: Something standing in your way? Throw money at it, and it will disappear. 
  3. Pun very much intended. Because it’s zombies, haha. Get it? They’re dead. No life! Lifeless! Haha. …Haha…. Ha…. … I’ll stop. 

REVIEW: Zombie Hunter IV

Ahem. [clears throat] Ah… ahem. Where to begin? Well, Zombie Hunter IV ($1.00) here is a zombie zombie zombie. It’s got zombie zombie and more zombies. It’s a first-person zombie with an assortment of zombified zombies to zombie from. You zombie zombie around the map, and zombie other zombies. Those zombies try to zombie you, and it’s up to zombie you to out-zombie them and zombie the day! You zombie what I’m saying, zombie?

Zombie Hunter IV - Screen

I’m aware that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I’ve literally run out of interesting openers to lead into yet another zombie game on XBLIG. Zombie Hunter IV1 doesn’t do much to inspire a unique take on the genre anyway; it’s a bare-bones FPS with only the slightest of visuals and gameplay. As the game’s namesake— a zombie hunter extraordinaire— you’ve been traveling the lands, purging every town of the undead. You’ve finally reached the last city on your tour of death, which promises to be your greatest challenge yet(!).

Sort of. Zombie Hunter IV asks you to mow down hordes of regenerating zombies that come at you in snarling packs of one or even two, collecting dynamite that drops as a powerup in their wake in order to blow up five buildings that are the supposed ‘source’ of the infection. You also earn plenty of money with each kill, which you can then use to snag a few new weapons (think shotgun, assault rifle) and some health packs at the local store, but this is the extent of the game’s progression and forward-thinking.

Zombie Hunter IV - Screen2

The rest of the experience is a boring struggle with the near-comatose zombie A.I., which only really wants to react to you once you’re a few feet away. In fact, the only challenge here is manufactured, as you can occasionally get stuck in place when you’re attacked, leading to a quick death. The game’s generous with its continues, however, allowing you to jump right back into things after parting with a modest amount of cash.

Not that there’s any reason to bother with Zombie Hunter IV in the first place. It’s a lazy, oversimplified shooter that’ll last you twenty minutes at most. The whole thing is as dull as ditchwater2 from start to finish in that span, with nary a redemptive quality in sight. You should probably avoid it like an actual zombie plague.

  1. I’m not sure where the ‘IV’ factors in, as I can find both the original Zombie Hunter and a 2D sequel, but no third act. Maybe Part Four here cannibalized the third game, I don’t know. Hey, at least it’s not a slightly racist game like the developer’s last effort. 
  2. Or, if you prefer the Americanized variant, ‘dull as dishwater’. How’s that for Old English putdowns! Take that, all you people from the 1700s! 

REVIEW: Border Dash

Is it racist? When it comes to XBLIGs, sadly, it’s a question I have to ask myself frequently enough. Reasons aplenty. Could be the lack of an authoritative body, or maybe the community itself. Most times, I write it off to cultural differences, or vocabulary issues where English is not a developer’s first language. Less forgivable are the native speakers that do drag out archaic stereotypes for laughs (that often aren’t funny, just awkward), but even then I would resist from calling it outright racism. That is, until I played Border Dash1($1.00).

Border Dash - Screen

I’m hardly a bleeding-heart liberal, or someone that’s going to instigate a Twitter campaign to decry something minor, but with Border Dash, really, the game does it to itself. Taking control of the unfortunate Chuy, Border Dash is an ‘endless runner’ (of sorts) that has you avoiding Immigration agents and the DEA on the way to crossing the border back into the United States. Each stage even ends with you wading through a river and coming out on the other side. The idea isn’t overtly bad or objectionable just yet, but I’m not done.

To fight off his pursuers, Chuy gathers items via bricks (think Mario, like the developer’s last game, complete with reused assets) that he can toss to slow them down / defeat. These items include flip flops, roasted corn, tequila bombs, and money (for bribes). Oh, and by picking up tacos, Chuy can call on the special powers of a witch or a chupacabra. Basically, this amounts to every stereotype imaginable being put into play. The topper? If you lose all your health and are caught, you can buy your way out with a fake green card. So you see, all kinds of subtlety here, classy up and down the board.

Border Dash - Screen2

The sloppy, simplistic gameplay that supports it isn’t any better. You can only attack enemies behind you, leaving yourself open to agents that come from the front, with no real way to avoid them (bizarrely, your jumps will land you directly on top of them, taking damage). The game also suffers from crippling slowdown from the second level (or ‘attempt’, as the game calls it) on, dropping the framerate down to a ridiculous crawl at some points.

So, Border Dash. Is it racist? Even by stretching the boundaries of good taste, and having a selective memory about the rest… probably. That may or may not bother you, but that’s a judgement call you’ll have to make for yourself. The good news— or easier news— in all of this, is that the game is terrible all on its own. No choosing sides in politics, no collective moral voting or decency mobs required, as I can’t picture anyone wanting to give this game more than a minute of their time.

  1. Not as bad as Custer humping Indians, maybe, but certainly not in the realm of good taste. 

REVIEW: Gear Head

Gear Head ($1.00) is the kind of game you’d get if Mario was a car nut instead of a plumber. Given his Italian heritage, you could probably find him extolling the value of a Fiat on some street corner in Milan. Or, considering his wealth acquired over the years, maybe he’d be a Maserati or Lamborghini guy. If you’re picking up princesses from fancy castles, you need to look the part, right? Yeah, Mario would be a boss, blasting Jay-Z’s ’99 Problems’ on his way over.

Unfortunately, Gear Head in reality is nowhere near the original kind of fun you could have envisioning Mario in a three-piece suit and playing a high-stakes (and high buy-in) game of poker, Peach on his arm feeding him Martinis, dueling Bowser not with the bottom of his boot, but with his mind. Nor is Mario the only mascot referenced.

A platformer with very familiar mechanics, you’ll bop the skulls of many a docile animal, breaking ‘?’ and ‘!’ bricks with your head. The latter ‘!’ blocks supply you with car parts to rebuild your stranded wreck at the end of each level (each stage requires a set amount to be collected), while the question bricks award you with ‘gears’ that work primarily as your health. Get hit by an enemy, and the gears will scatter, with the next hit being fatal, a la Sonic.

The game is split into three hub worlds of four stages apiece. With no continues and only a small reserve of extra lives (more can be earned by completing each world), you’ll have to play it somewhat smart, planning jumps and attacks accordingly. Gear Head does a nice job of accentuating that challenge, as well, putting you on a timer and running its routes through enemy-lined corridors with low ceilings.

Gear Head - Screen

Snow World? You bet your ass you get a Snow World.

It’s all fine, albeit very pedestrian, until the third hub of levels swaps out cute animals for head-stomp-resistant zombies (this is XBLIG; you didn’t think the Undead would be left out of the fun, did you?). Though this move turns out to be a pretty smart one, as it forces you to rethink previous strategies and play more frugally. It’s not a drastic change, of course, but for a game that played it virtuously-safe prior to them, zombies help the cause here.

It’s still all mimicry and borrowed parts from other platformers, but Gear Head does a better impersonation than most. Though as has been the case before with fan projects, that statement works both with you and against you. I’ll drag out my line: A dollar is a cheap introduction, yes, but when the much better originals are always widely-available, there’s little reward in playing a low-rent homage.