When the Big Brain--the aptly named yet dubiously intelligent leader of a marauding band of alien brain thingys--selects Earth as his next target for conquest, he doesn't count on facing any serious opposition to his invasion. After all, with lasers and mind control at his disposal, he is comfortably unstoppable...or so he thought. Unfortunately for him, the presence of so much exposed cerebellum has attracted a triple dose of perhaps an alien brain thingy's worst nightmare: the zombie. With mankind all but enslaved by a veritable army of hors d'oeuvres, the fate of the world is in the fetid hands of the undead.
Teenage Zombies is presented like a 1950s pulp horror comic, and you're occasionally prompted to turn your Nintendo DS on its side like a book to view hilarious comic-book cutscenes, complete with dialogue that seems to have jumped out of Invader Zim or the Spaceman Spiff strips of Calvin and Hobbes. In it, you take control of the titular team as it journeys far and wide in its search for snacks. You have three zombies at your disposal, and though they share a common health (unhealth?) meter, they each play differently and have their own unique abilities.
Finnigan "Fins" Magee, a stocky gent in bright orange shorts, has hideous purple tentacles attached to his back that let him lash out on either side and above simultaneously, as well as climb up walls or across wires. Lori "Lefty" Lopez is tall and emaciated, but she's able to reach out with her one good arm beyond human limits to climb up and over walls and obstacles. Zack "Half-Pipe" Boyd is the smallest of the bunch, and with his skateboard (which seems permanently attached), he's able to slide into tight crawl spaces and speed down ramps for some tricky jumps.
Switching between the three teens can be done at any time and is as easy as hitting the trigger buttons or tapping the touch screen. The trio will begin its journey in, of course, the graveyard, and make its way through a number of locations familiar to horror fans, such as an abandoned construction site and a mall. Teamwork is vital to maneuver through the maze of obstacles laid out in your path, and you'll constantly find yourself swapping back and forth between your undead to progress.
Beyond their unique strengths, each of the teenage zombies can also find special power-ups that will temporarily give them extra abilities. For example, Fins can chomp down on rotten leftovers to belch out acid and melt grates, and Half-Pipe can piece together spare tires to pimp his ride. In addition to these power-ups, you'll find additional limbs that you can use (once you assemble a complete body) to play a simple attach-the-parts minigame with the touch screen to restore your health.
The brain thingys themselves range in size and weaponry and all look like disembodied versions of the aliens from Mars Attacks! In the portion that we played through, we encountered tiny, floating brains armed with ray guns; larger, tank-equipped brutes; and even a few who favored the hands-off approach and used their telepathic powers to make armed security guards do their bidding. A good old-fashioned blow to their braincases is all it takes to disable them and reveal their tasty brainmeats for consumption, which refills lost health.
Teenage Zombies: Invasion of the Alien Brain Thingys! should be arriving on store shelves this spring. Check back for our full review shortly.