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Teenage Zombies: Invasion of the Alien Brain Thingys
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game stars a trio of high school-aged reanimated corpses engaged in a fight against an invading army of floating brains. The undead kids wage war using their hands, tentacles, intestines, and a small arsenal of imaginative power-ups, including soapy vomit, a vacuum arm, and a skateboard with monster-sized wheels. It's not as graphic as you might think. There's no real gore (the intestine attack is simply a black and white line that zips out from a zombie's midsection to smack enemies), and the little amount of blood that is shown is cartoon in nature. The most disturbing part of the game is simply that the protagonists are dead teens who eat "brain meats" to replenish their health, though it's worth mentioning that they only munch on the cerebrums of evil aliens intent on destroying the world. The game's suitable for mature tweens.
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What's it about?
Zombies are normally the bad guys, but that's not the case in the darkly comic adventure game TEENAGE ZOMBIES: INVASION OF THE ALIEN BRAIN THINGYS, which stars a trio of undead teenagers fighting off an invading army of evil brains. Each of our lifeless heroes has his or her own special powers. Lori \"Lefty\" Lopez, for example, can jump higher than her companions and replace her arm with a variety of devices, including an umbrella, a rivet gun, and a vacuum. Much of the action involves activities typical of the platform adventure genre, including running, jumping, and climbing. But there are also several unlockable minigames, including one in which players dig tunnels to let rats and brains crawl up from underground and another in which skateboarding zombie Zack \"Half Pipe\" Boyd does tricks in mid-air to whack flying brains.
Is it any good?
It sounds grisly, but Teenage Zombies is actually a surprisingly charming play, thanks in large part to a genuinely witty humor delivered through the game's convincing comic book motif. From menus to character design to pulpy story sequences, everything about the game is meant to make players feel as though they are playing an interactive comic book -- and one that never takes itself too seriously. Our main enemy, for instance, is a hilariously narcissistic, bumbling papa brain. Simply put, it's much funnier than it is scary or gross.
Looking beyond the endearing narrative and art, Teenage Zombies is a satisfying, if not particularly original, platform adventure game. The action is composed mostly of activities such as leaping to higher ledges, shimmying across wires, and rolling down hills. Players are often required to switch between the three zombie teens so that they can use each character's distinct powers. You may get stuck for a few moments now and then as you try to figure out which zombie ability is needed in order to overcome a particular obstacle, but navigation is, by and large, simple and evident. Suffice to say that most players will remember Teenage Zombies for its style and story, and not for its adequate but uninspired action.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the concept of dark humor. How is it that subjects normally thought to be frightening, appalling, or depressing can be made funny? In your view, is this game a successful example of dark humor? You can also talk about the concept of zombies and the different kinds of "living dead" creatures that have been produced by our popular culture. Does it make biological sense that something dead could somehow still function and move around? Do you think stories about the so-called "undead" are best categorized as horror, science-fiction, or both?
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