by: Dr. Boogie
Can you have a horror game without gore? Maybe, but it wouldn't be easy. Night Slashers is one of those games that prefer not to dwell on such an unpleasant notion. Rather than spend a good half hour or so building up an atmosphere of tension, Night Slashers knows that you can accomplish just as much by having your heroes plant their fists in the soft, yielding skull of a zombie.
Permit me to introduce them:
Jake is a cyborg that fights zombies professionally to finance his dream job: singing in the world's second most well-known Van Halen tribute band. Fans call him "The Psychic Cyborg" because of his astonishing foresight. For instance, he recently predicted that he would punch a zombie in the head until it exploded, and that's exactly what happened! You can't make this stuff up.
Christopher is the most famous vampire hunter in Europe. Not the best, mind; merely the most famous. He dresses like a ponce to distract from his mullet. Or is it the other way around? Anyway, he fights zombies and vampires alike by kicking them furiously, and then shining a small blue jewel in their faces, which kills them.
Don't question it.
And last but not least is Hong Hua. She's a martial artist, too. Why doesn't she get her own schtick instead of splitting the martial artist angle with Christopher?
Eh, whatever. Those are your strong, medium, and fast heroes. The real selling point of the game is not the rich characterization, but the mind-blowing violence. It starts out strong:
There's a hospital in need of zombie clearance, so the Night Slashers plow through them in their sweet van and blast right through a wall. They are not injured in the least from doing this, and the van is in good enough condition to drive away after dropping them off.
What you saw of the zombies blowing apart as the van rolled over them was just the beginning.
Without a doubt, the gore effects are what turn this game from a fairly average beat-‘em-up into something truly memorable. Sometimes all it takes is a single punch, and you'll bear witness to a veritable zombie meltdown. And to top it all off, each graphic zombie emulsification is accompanied by an absolutely sickening sloshing sound. The only way it could get any better is if they were bleeding red blood instead of guacamole. (note: in the Japanese version of the game, they do bleed red.)
The brutality doesn't end with few mere punches and kicks, however...
Each fighter has the ability to hammer a zombie into the ground like a stake, at which point you can Riverdance their skulls into paste. Best of all, this attack works on nearly every type of zombie/werewolf/vampire/whatever. Even the bosses will succumb to the irresistable force of a fist pounding the top of their head and driving them into the ground. It never gets old.
As the enemies get tougher, so too do their deaths become more... satisfying.
These masked zombies are especially irritating, what with their almost nonstop slide attacks. It can be fun to pound them into the ground and kick them ‘til their heads fall off, but a nice piledriver will have them busting a gut. I don't know about you, but I can count the number of games that feature intestines akimbo on one hand.
The running theme in the game is that you face off against mutants and monsters that are so irritating that you really enjoy it when their badly-beaten bodies catastrophically fail. Take these axe-wielding executioners, for example: they love to stand just outside your attack range and knock you down with lightning-quick axe swings. It's super annoying, but you almost forget how annoying it is when their huge heads undergo equally huge explosions. Ah, sweet revenge.
I could go on about how the game likes to devour your quarters by subjecting you to an almost cartoonish level of cheesy difficulty (really, how can I be grappled by a zombie with no arms?), or how everything from rocks to strawberry shortcake are placed inside of scattered attaché cases, but this game is about one thing, and one thing only: the violence.
See that mad doctor slashing away with his scalpel and threatening to make mutants out of you and your friends?
Beat him until he melts!
This strange, Gepetto-like old man annoying you with his strange dancing and creepy life-sized marionette?
Beat him until he melts!!
This large, ponderous vampire lord getting on your nerves with his haughty laughter and surprisingly effect cape swishing?
BEAT HIM UNTIL HE MELTS!!!
The beatings will rain down from the heavens for 7 zombie-liquefying stages. Of course, even this level of violence can get tiresome after a while. Thank goodness the developers had the foresight to include some minigames to shake things up a bit.
Kicking a half-buried zombie is one of the best parts of the game. Fitting, then, that it should be taken to its logical extreme: zombie whack-a-mole. Crack open as many zombie heads as you can in ten seconds. Why? Why not? The crowd loves it!
The zombie toss combines the best parts of bowling and throwing a human corpse over long distances. And after the game, you can kick back with an ice-cold Gore Gore Cola, the only cola that's good enough to make you declare, "bloody tast!"
All this glorious ultraviolence leads up to a climactic battle with the Grim Reaper himself:
Certainly the fear of death is ruining someone's day, even at this very moment. However, Death is quick to point out that whole zombie apocalypse thing was not his baby. There's one even more diabolical, more utterly evil than the master of life and death. Who else could it be, other than...
... a robot possessed by a ghost.
That's it!? You fought through legions of the undead expecting to be accosted at the last second by the most horrific villain you can imagine, in a battle that would almost assuredly see you ripping off the villain's leg, smashing his head into a red mist, breathing in that very mist, and spitting a blood-coated loogie into his thoroughly smashed brain. Instead, you trade blows with the evil cousin of the Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future.
Not exactly a strong finish, if you ask me. I guess the developers just painted themselves into a corner. With blood!
I wonder where I can buy some pants like Christopher's...
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