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Who Remembers ‘Zombies Ate My Neighbors’?!

By 1990, George Romero had completed his epic zombie trilogy, which of course forever changed the landscape of zombie cinema and, for that matter, all things zombie. In the early ’90s, films like Tom Savini’s remake of Night of the Living Dead and Dead Alive proved that zombies were still alive and well, and the George Lucas-founded LucasArts decided to take advantage of the enduring popularity of Romero’s flesh-eating creation. In 1993, their video game Zombies Ate My Neighbors was published by Konami for the Super NES and Sega Mega Drive/Genesis.

The overhead game’s plot centers on a mad scientist by the name of Dr. Tongue, a likely reference to the very first zombie (“Dr. Tongue”) seen in Romero’s Day of the Dead. Story goes that Dr. Tongue has created all sorts of different monsters in his spooky underground laboratory, which have been unleashed on the populace. It’s up to teens Zeke and Julie to save the day.

Playing as either Zeke (a rad dude rocking 3D glasses and a serious head of blonde hair) or Julie (a cool chick in a red cap and purple jacket), you were tasked with roaming around 55 different environments (which included a shopping mall, various backyards, a beach, and a haunted castle), battling Dr. Tongue’s monsters, collecting items like keys and new weapons, and most importantly, saving aloof victims from certain doom. The object was to essentially “collect” your neighbors in each level before they were killed, allowing you to advance to the next one.

Now the cool thing about Zombies Ate My Neighbors, despite what the title would lead you to believe, is that Dr. Tongue didn’t exclusively deal in zombies. Yes, the game does feature many of Romero’s trademark ghouls, but each level also included all sorts of other monsters. It was a full-on monster mash of villains from various horror movies; looking back today, it’s fair to call Zombies Ate My Neighbors the original Cabin in the Woods. Threats included underground, Graboid-like monsters, a masked maniac with a chainsaw, giant spiders, werewolves, vampires, evil dolls, and even a giant freakin’ baby. The final boss was the sinister Dr. Tongue, who transformed into a giant spider and then a floating head that could literally shoot tongues.

As for the weapons Zeke and Julie used to dispatch enemies, they included surprisingly effective water guns, exploding soda cans, tomatoes, and even weed-whackers. You could also jump on trampolines and just spring the hell away from the monsters and into other areas, which was (as far as I can recall) often my chosen course of action when I played the game as a kid.

Hey, there’s something to be said for just running away from threats.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors spawned a sequel titled Ghoul Patrol in ’94, and at one point in time, the original game almost even made the leap to the big screen. It was reported back in 2011 that a feature film adaptation of the game penned by John Darko was looking for financing, and it was described as a coming of age tale that mixed John Hughes, Judd Apatow and George Romero.

Unfortunately, the project quickly found itself in development hell. We haven’t heard a peep about a potential adaptation in some time now. But at least we have Cabin in the Woods, friends.



COMMENTS

20 Comments
  • Colby Cline

    Days and days, probably months spent playing that game! So many good memories with that. Remember everything going down hill once we’d get to the levels where you went in the pyramids. Fk those levels. Ha!

    • James

      Oh my god yes. My brother and I played this game constantly. Awesome game. I actually just picked up a retro freak console this week and I was playing this game the other day. Holds up surprisingly well.

    • Vesuvian Villain

      Fuck those levels indeed. Loved the chainsaw dude in the hedges, the giant baby, the trampolines, the football players, the mall. We were obsessed and I can still hear that fucking music. I have got to beat that game before I die.

  • Brando

    Was obsessed with this game as a kid. Played it on the Genesis. I even wrote a short story about Stanley Decker, the Chainsaw Maniac!

  • deadums

    I used to play this at a friend’s place pretty often. For a long time I thought it was called “Zombies Ain’t My Neighbors” which, while being grammatically awful, seemed pretty 90s to me lol

  • David Tucker

    Downloaded this onto our Wii years ago. The only reason I still have the system. I used to play this every day on Sega as a kid, and now I get to play it with my 4 year old, who loves it. Just a phenomenal game. Would make a great movie, or an open-world rebooted game.

  • The Drucifer

    My favorite game of all time and the only reason I haven’t sold my Wii.

  • augster3

    I played this all the fucking time! So good! This needs a re-release/updated remake a la Oddworld.

  • KholiH

    We shot a live action concept/series trailer for this game, it’s one of my top favorites:

  • Eddie Dutra

    I still own this and its predecessor “Ghoul Patrol” on my SNES! GHOUL PATROL WAS AN AWFUL MESS!

  • Travis Ignaffo

    Remember playing this on the SNES i had as a kid and i just got another copy of it with the free SNES i got last month.

  • Classic Material

    Yes!!! I used to play this all the time on Sega Channel. Easily one of my favorite games from that time

  • Rick-Taylor

    I used to rock this game along with Kid Chameleon, Altered Beast, and General Chaos.

    • Javier del Rios

      General Chaos was awesome!

  • Lord Elric

    I’d love to see a rerelease of this. Maybe even a remastered followup or something.

  • zomnombie

    Favorite SNES game EVER!

  • richp_91

    This game brings lots of memories. The catchy soundtrack, the monsters, jason??, everything about this game is amazing. I still play by the way..on Wii U.

  • Javier del Rios

    I LOVE that game, it was so much fun. Too bad the password system was useless since it only saved the level you were in and your lives but not your weapons.

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