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Zombotron

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Zombotron Game Poster Image
Bloody sci-fi shooter is visually slick with clunky play.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

The game’s main focus is Blaze trying to survive while making a quick buck. While there are some bits of story here and there to uncover once he lands on the planet, it never really evolves past "There’s something bad here that'll try to kill you."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Blaze is just a stereotypical action "hero," a space jockey that's meant to blast anything that moves and leave a path of destruction in his wake.

Ease of Play

Although the gameplay should be simple, it’s actually anything but easy. For starters, the controls are a bit awkward and frustrating. The character just sort of floats around and moves like a ragdoll, without much accuracy. There’s also a high difficulty curve, with players losing a fair chunk of progress at a time when they die.

Violence

While the game’s art style is extremely cartoonish in nature, there’s still a surprising amount of carnage. Enemies explode into meaty chunks, leaving corpses behind in pools of blood.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Zombotron is a downloadable sci-fi themed action/adventure side-scrolling shooter for Windows and Mac OS based computers. Players make their way through an alien planet and the wreckage of an ancient ship, blasting anything and everything that gets in their way. The game has a high level of difficulty, compounded by less than precise controls. While the game’s art style is cartoonish, with a lot of color and detail, the over-the-top action still features a lot of explicit depictions of violence. Players and enemies use all kinds of melee weapons, firearms, and explosive devices in battle, often blowing apart into chunks of gore and gratuitous splashes of blood.

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What's it about?

ZOMBOTRON isn’t a game about stealth or subtlety. No, Zombotron is a game about big guns, bigger explosions, and taking out anything that moves in the most spectacular ways imaginable.  Players take on the role of the (not-so) infamous intergalactic mercenary, Blaze Rush, a man always on the lookout for his next big payday. After picking up a distress beacon from the surface of a strange planet, Blaze swoops in thinking he’s about to write his own check. But instead of a treasure trove of plunder and grateful refugees, Blaze stumbles across an ancient crash site, filled with a host of different hostile alien races eager to attack anything that moves … including each other. Arming himself with an arsenal of weaponry, Blaze brings his own brand of deadly diplomacy to these creatures, negotiating with the barrel of his guns. It’ll take a keen aim, quick reflexes, and lots of carnage to survive long enough to discover the secrets lying deep below the planet’s surface. Have you got what it takes to bring Blaze back alive?

Is it any good?

When you ask if a person enjoyed something, be it a game, a movie, a concert, or whatnot, it’s usually not a good sign when the response starts with, “Well, it looked good.” With that in mind, if there’s one thing that can be said about Zombotron, the indie side-scrolling shooter based on a series of Flash-based games … well, it looks good. From a visual standpoint, Zombotron is absolutely gorgeous, if not occasionally bloody. The art style is colorful and detailed, with a lot of intricate little nuances that can easily be overlooked. It makes for an excellent atmospheric setting that you’re eager to see more of. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the gameplay.

Right off the bat, Zombotron’s controls feel sluggish and clunky. Moving around looks and feels more like you’re playing a marionette puppet, strings and all. Some awkwardness can be fixed by making some adjustments to the default settings, but the improvement is minor at best. Technical glitches plague the game as well. Characters will get stuck on the environment, items will tumble through the floor, and taking damage from falling can be lethal one minute and non-existent the next. Oftentimes, it feels like the game’s most powerful enemy is itself. This frustration is only amplified when you realize that dying means losing a substantial amount of progress, as well as access to any weapons or gear you might have picked up and been using since the last checkpoint. It makes Zombotron a rough grind that, at its best, feels like it’s always taking one step forward and two steps back.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Zombotron affected by the fact that, while bloody and full of carnage, you're destroying hostile alien creatures? Would the violence be intensified if you were attacking humans instead?

  • What are some of the ways that games are designed to provide a challenge to the player? What might be some ways that glitches or other problems with game design might make a game more frustrating than intended?

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