(Un)dead on arrival

The argument against cloning is a muddled one. While some games are flagrant in their mimicry of other works, others merely toe the line and leave people debating whether or not they’re shameless copies. Zombie Swipeoutfrom Zynga falls into the latter camp, offering a style of gameplay that’s reminiscent – but not wholly derivative – of App Store titan Fruit Ninja. Not to mention the whole zombie thing. That’s certainly different.

On a mechanical level, there’s little difference between Zombie Swipeout and Fruit Ninja. You swipe across the screen to dice up zombies, all the while dodging good guy Josh (of ZombieSmash fame). One of the key differences comes in the form of bonus points allotted when you perfectly lop off a zombie’s head, meaning where you slice is equally as important as the slicing itself. There are also coins that occasionally enter the playing field, and successfully cutting into them provides you currency to spend on in-game items.

It isn’t something that ever affected me personally, but the game only lets you play a certain amount of times before you have to wait for a meter to refill or to purchase more tries. It’s a tactic that would be more permissible in a free game, but as it appears in the paid version too, it just feels unsavory. I have a feeling this is the very definition of “first world problems.”

Further monetization comes in the form of the “Rescue” option. Should you accidentally slice Mark mid-game, you have the ability to rewind time to moments before it happened. The game allots you a handful of chances to do this, and you can occasionally earn extras, but eventually you’ll need to purchase diamonds – an alternate currency to the game’s coins – to get more.

It isn’t all bad news, though. One area Zombie Swipeout deserves praise is its graphics. It’s a pleasantly cartoony game, in a way that perfectly complements the absurdity of the premise. Players can also change the color of the zombies’ blood from red to green, which – needless to say – is something anyone playing the game should do right away. Red blood is totally overdone.

Zombie Swipeout

Zombie Swipeout

The more you play Zombie Swipeout, the quicker you level up and unlock things like power-ups. It’s a solid idea, but it also means people who don’t play the game with any sort of frequency will be without most of its power-ups for quite some time. It provides a reason to play the game more often, but I would have preferred for everything to be available from the start.

Fruit Ninja is by no means a deep game (not necessarily a bad thing), but developer Halfbrick managed to concoct three equally enjoyable modes for it. The same cannot be said of Zombie Swipeout, which features only a single mode of play. This is one area where the game had a ton of potential to shine, as modes that deviated from that of Fruit Ninja could have made for a game far more compelling than what we have here.

There are a lot of interesting things developers could do with the Fruit Ninja style of gameplay. As such, I hold nothing against games that adopt and re-purpose it. The problem with Zombie Swipeout is that it makes no attempt to do anything bold with the concept. It’s an inferior version of the games that preceded it, offering less content and throttling – however innocently – the content it does have. I wanted to refrain from offering lazy criticisms like saying they “Zynga’d” it, but seriously‚Ķ they kind of Zynga’d it.