Zombinis proves that the monster-battling genre isn’t dead–it’s just undead
Zombie animals make terrible pets. Sure, they might not poop on the carpet, but sometimes their rotting bellies just unzip of their own accord and slop their extremities from one end of the kitchen to the next. It makes a hellish mess. Take a cue from Zombinis and put zombie animals where they belong: on the battlefield, fighting for your amusement.
Zombinis is a social game that takes place in Z-Land, a surprisingly peaceful place where the citizens presumably don’t snack on each other. Every year, Z-Land holds a tournament wherein trainers pit their Zombini animals against each other–but on this particular year, weird beings called Krotons attack the championship tent. They decimate Z-Land’s army, destroy its king, and begin manipulating Zombinis to suit their own ends. It’s up to you to build up your own Zombini army and fight back.
Maybe you’ve heard this song before. In fact, Zombinis‘ premise is obviously inspired by Pokemon, but its battle system is closer to Risk. When you attack other Zombinis or the Kroton forces, several dice will roll on the bottom of the screen. If you roll a number higher than your opponent’s, you get a hit. If you roll doubles, you score two hits.
Obviously, if you’re allowed to roll more dice than your opponent, you have an automatic advantage. The number of dice you’re granted in a battle corresponds to your Zombini’s theme, and your enemy’s theme: if you’re battling with a land type Zombini, for instance, and your foe is a sea type Zombini, you’ll get an extra die. Sea types, meanwhile, get an advantage over air types, and air types are strong against land types. You can carry several Zombinis into battle, and you can switch them out at any time for the cost of one unit of Energy (which refills slowly as you play).
When Zombinis whack an enemy, said enemy loses one of four body parts. If you roll doubles, you scrape off two body parts at once. Rolling triples will rip off three body parts, and so on. It’s great fun to watch your opponent’s limbs fly off in different directions–but of course, enemies are able to give you the same treatment, so watch yourself.
If your Zombini loses all of its body parts, it must be rebuilt. You can rebuild a Zombini by taking it out of commission for a while and waiting for it to regenerate (this also works on Zombinis that are injured, but still in fighting shape). You can also build graveyards in your home base, and search them after an allotted amount of time to dig up those necessary arms, eyes, flippers, beaks, whatever you need.
Unfortunately, digging up random body parts and/or waiting for your Zombini to regenerate takes a long time. Not surprisingly, Zombinis wants you to take the quickest route to get back in the action: cough up real-world moolah via microtransactions, and buy the necessary body parts in an instant. This is one of several examples of East Side Games attempts to get you to pay up. For instance, fighting battles, switching out your Zombini soldiers, and going on missions to defeat the Kroton menace takes Energy, which must recharge over a certain amount of time–unless you want to pay for more energy, of course. And whenever you raid your graveyard for body parts, it seems like you wind up with coins far more often than the parts that are necessary to rebuild your injured Zombinis.
Still, East Side Games is less insistent about microtransactions than many social game developers, and Zombinis is a lot of fun to play, even if you only wind up playing it for ten minutes at a time. And even though the game’s cute, cartoony graphics won’t exactly give you the chills, it’s still kind of unsettling to watch your opponent knock your poor Zombini’s eyes right off its head. That’s some spooOooOOky monster-battling!