Despite the immense popularity of such games as Golden Axe, Streets of Rage, and Final Fight in the ‘90s, modern-day scrolling beat’em ups tend to come and go without fanfare. Even Double Dragon IV, released on PS4 and Switch earlier this year, failed to generate anything resembling a buzz and that was once the biggest name in side-scrolling brawling.
The lack of excitement for new scrolling beat’em ups seems to stem from the fact that the genre hasn’t evolved a great deal. Certainly not in the same way that RPGs, first-person shooters or adventure games have. They tend to stick to an overfamiliar formula – choose a character and then make your way to the right of the screen, picking up weapons and stopping to fight bad guys before taking on a boss. With a lack of surprises and innovation, there’s little cause for excitement.
Developer Paw Print Games seems to be aware that the genre has been stuck in a rut for a while, as the London-set Bloody Zombies (how’s that for a pun?) has a unique twist – PSVR support.
Headset wearers have camera control, allowing hidden paths and bonus pick-ups to be easily spotted. While accessible to all and sundry, these secrets are usually well hidden to those playing without a headset. A headset wearer on the team notably increases chances of survival, as you’ll need every extra health-pack and 1UP you can find. Button bashing won’t get you far here.
This is a demanding game, make no mistake. Fail to dodge enemy attacks and make use of special moves and combos, then chances are you’ll end up reaching a boss with just one life left. As good as dead, basically. Button bashing only cuts it during the opening stages – if you don’t have enemy attack patterns and the dodge manoeuvre licked after this point, you’re in for a rough time.
We’d even go as far to say that Bloody Zombies isn’t particularly fun without friends. There are far fewer zombies to deal with when playing on your lonesome, but even so, it’s no walk in the park (ignoring the fact that one stage is set in a kids’ playground).