Players will realize they are in for a unique experience in Little Red Riding Hood’s Zombie BBQ, when our protagonist flings off her scarlet cloak and begins firing her machine gun at the start of the game. Developers EnjoyUp have created a wacky title that skillfully mashes up the Brothers Grimm with gameplay reminiscent of Gun.Smoke and NAM-1975.
From the onset, it’s clear the developers know the DS hardware, as menu selections send the player sweeping through a 3D graveyard, before the main game even starts. Gamers can choose between two characters: the previously mentioned Riding Hood, and Momo ‘Kamikaize’ Taro, who’s armed with an endless supply of shuriken. Differences between the two players are merely cosmetic; as developers missed an easy opportunity to increase the longevity of the title.
Is it just us, or does Momotaro looks like Chun-Li from the back?
Players are restricted to the bottom on the screen, and may use the D-pad or stylus to move left or light in one of seven lanes at the bottom of the screen. By confining the player to a specific path, the game simplifies hit detection- it is always clear if an on-screen threat is going to make contact with our hero. Firing is handled by holding down the stylus anywhere on the screen besides the bottom row of the screen. Players fire in bursts and must release the stylus to reload after a dozen shots or so. Special weapons are on the borders of the screen, and include shotguns and lasers. Tapping on the hero will cause our protagonist to duck- a skill that’s necessary during boss battles.
Control works well for the most part, with one glaring problem. Players have a limited supply of bombs that are thrown by double-tapping. It’s far too easy to inadvertently toss one of these; EnjoyUp should have used the left and right bumpers to trigger these. Thankfully, Zombie BBQ isn’t just about fast reflexes, as most foes move fairly slow. Instead, the game challenges players to multitask- the skillful player should constantly be aware of what the most immediate threats are at all times.
The title stands as one of the best examples of hand-drawn art on the DS hardware. Characters are drawn in a style reminiscent of the Street Fighter Alpha series, with a meticulous attention to detail and shading. Cartoonish zombies have tufts of white hair, and blood lingering around their mouths, while killer dolls are missing eyes. Although the enemy roster isn’t especially deep, each foe in the game is charmingly drawn. Sadly, when more than four adversaries appear on-screen, the game’s speed can slow drastically.
Candy apples, chocolate and the undead is a perfect receipe for short-term fun.
The game includes some intentionally funny voice-work. Hearing Little Red Riding Hood say “Zombie BBQ”, with a skewed accent is incessantly amusing. We wish even more of the catch-phrases were integrated into the game, perhaps after boss battles. Players may tire of the endless clatter of the hero’s main weapon being fired as it drones on throughout the game, however.
Our enjoyment of the title was inversely related to the amount of time we spent with it. The game offers a decidedly old-school aesthetic- later levels present the same play mechanic, but with different background and enemy art. So after a few levels, monotony reared its ugly head. Perhaps the developers should have made shorter levels, punctuated by rounds offering a different play style.
Little Red Rising Hood’s Zombie BBQ is a competent shooter with a well-refined play mechanic. Its hand-drawn artwork is some of the best to be found on the DS system, and complements the action expertly. However, a lack of depth hurts the long-term value of the game- the title is a bit simplistic to keep gamers shooting once it’s been completed. Still, we encourage all players to at least give the title a try- this is one BBQ that everyone deserves to taste.
Good: Twenty dollar price, limitless undead horde to dispatch.
Bad: Having to restart a level after dying due to the lack of checkpoints, slowdown.
Ugly: The game’s art is gorgeously grotesque; the cutest gristle you’ll ever see.