I quite enjoyed Zombo Buster Rising, a wave defence styled game with comic zombies running towards a supermarket. Your characters on the roof needed to keep the building safe by upgrade attacks and reigning chaos on the zombies from above. Its sequel Zombo Buster Advance takes the battle inside and transitions to a lane defence game. Sadly, it wears its mobile roots on its sleeve and doesn’t shake them off for its console release.
Each level will have 2 – 5 corridors for you to protect and each has an exit door at the end which is where your health is lost. Money is collected automatically over time and you spend it on dropping up to 3 characters in each corridor who will then auto attack anything they see. Slowly ambling towards you are a list of zombies with different traits, strengths and weaknesses and you’ll need to switch your characters around to suit. Key to this is the elevator system – a cooldown related move that lets characters move between corridor floors. This is helpful because there are elevators on the enemy side too and zombies will reappear on a different floor and chaos mischief.
As you play each level you collect XP and coins to use for upgrading your base stats such as health, starting money and damage but you’ll also have the ability to assign up to 5 power up coins for each character type too. This means you’ll need to grind for both currencies and this is where some of the rot of Zombo Buster Advance comes in. Whilst there are 50 levels, you’ll end up having to replay levels repeatedly to get stars for progression but also to win these upgrade coins to make your characters strong enough for the difficulty jumps. These aren’t jumps in skill mind you, its just HP hoarding so that end of area bosses have so much HP you can’t down them before they reach you. It feels like a mobile micro transaction hang over that hasn’t been addressed properly and it grinds me gears. This was a problem in the original game too but much less pronounced and obvious than it is here.
Part of this problem is made more obvious due to the fact that some characters are just so much better than others. I found once I’d reached halfway through the game I had a certain loadout and I stuck to it. The chain lightning guy is so handy, he was a staple and so was the missile man. Combining those with shield power ups and acid puddles made for an easy win on most levels. This then made the grind more frustrating as it was all about raising the base stats just to clear a goal. I think what mainly confused me though is the games’ pacing. Everything feels slow but at the same time you can make a wrong move very quickly and watch it slowly fall apart whilst not being able to put it right quickly afterwards. It’s the reliance on timers, cooldowns, powering up and laying of traps that does this and it’s not terrible – it just feels a bit like watching a slow motion car crash, knowing ones occurring and not being able to do anything about it.
It’s a shame as the comic b-movie horror is well done and there are some ideas here on lane defence theming. I wanted to like Zombo Buster Advance but found it just a bit too uninvolving. It almost plays itself once you’ve got all your characters in place and that’s part of the problem. Mix that up with a built in grind for currency you can’t control and its a recipe for frustration. Zombo Buster Advance will not be my go to Halloween game this year.
Zombo Buster Advance
Uninvolved, lopsided gameplay and a built in grind weighs down some nice lane defence ideas and theming.
Some good ideas with the elevator and escalator systems to switch things up.
The odd sensation that everything is really slow until something goes wrong and then you can't make any moves to correct it.
Inbuilt grind does not replace microtransaction hell easily or happily.
Some characters are just way better than others so it limits your tactics.
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