Zombies have been terrorizing suburban neighborhoods for so long that the adults and full-time zombie slayers have grown tired of their lurching antics. With the professionals too scared of losing their precious brains to lend a helping hand, four spunky kids must use their magic vacuum cleaners to suck the undead off the face of the earth. This colorful approach to mutant removal could have been fun, but Zombie Wranglers utterly destroys the simple joy of fighting humanity's greatest enemy. The controls are painfully sluggish, the camera struggles to frame the banal action, and actually fighting zombies is cheap and unrewarding. Even teaming up with a few friends doesn't improve the situation, unless your goal is to make your company as miserable as you are. Zombie Wranglers is as brain dead as the monsters you're trying to kill.
The four characters have slightly different moves, but the action is mundane no matter who you choose. You can nab zombies with your vacuum, stun them with a melee attack, or blast them to smithereens with a slow-to-charge gun. Although the attacks are basic, they each come with their own problem that removes any fun from the combat. The vacuum cleaner is slow to start, takes far too long to suck up enemies, and gets interrupted whenever a zombie so much as breathes on you. The gun can be pointed at bad guys with ease, but the game will often adjust your aim after you pull the trigger, ensuring that your powerful long-range weapon is all but worthless. Your melee attack can thump individual enemies with no problem, but when a group of angry undead surround you, your swing will often go clean through some of them. It's not fun being trapped in a circle of death with no way to break through.
Whenever you capture a zombie, you earn a cash bonus for your efforts that can be used to purchase power-ups scattered across the map. The most helpful are freshly baked turkeys that replenish your health, but there are a few silly tricks that provide a tiny bit of entertainment. One item lets you shrink your enemies down to a pack of miniaturized mutants, scarcely big enough to scare a full-grown chicken. Another one sprays a patch of sticky glue on the ground, which lets you bash in your enemies' heads without fear of death. Despite providing one of the few enjoyable parts of the game, the power-ups also have their own problems. For instance, the flashbulb is supposed to stun pursuing zombies with a blast of light. However, when a mass of undead is slowly surrounding you, the flashbulb will often stun less than half, forcing you to rely on your inconsistent standard weapons to survive.
In the beginning, Zombie Wranglers is bland and boring. The early stages throw only a handful of zombies in your path, so you simply need to point your magic vacuum and wait for all of your problems to be solved. Instead of gradually increasing the difficulty, though, the game quickly becomes cheap and frustrating the moment more-powerful zombies are introduced. Certain zombies don armor that must be knocked away before you can use your vacuum pack on them, but given that your melee attack so often clips through your foes and the gun rarely lands a shot, these take far too long to put down. Fat, puking zombies take so long to suck up that you'll be surrounded by their skinnier brethren before you can finish them off. Plus, when you knock one of your attackers on its back, you must wait for it to slowly right itself before you can exterminate it, and those precious seconds are a luxury that you can't afford as swarms of zombies continually circle you.
The most annoying battles are against boss opponents. All of these rely on cheap swarms of lesser zombies to make them as frustrating as possible. Against both the Zomball and Franken, you have to dodge their attacks until they stun themselves, and then move in quickly for the kill. But they're stunned for only a second or two and are constantly surrounded by a mass of undead attackers, so these fights are overly long and frustrating. And whenever they do knock you down, it takes an inordinately long time to stand up again, which kills the flow of the action. The final boss is so heavily protected by his zombie pals that he is almost impossible to defeat alone. With a few friends, you can surround him and slowly chip away at his energy bar, which is a grueling way to end an awful game.
Zombie Wranglers seems to go out of its way to destroy any potential fun. Various animals roam around the levels but they can't be attacked. Whether it's an angry squirrel or flock of bats, once they see you they will relentlessly pursue you until they catch up. At that point, you must rotate the left stick to shake them off. In the beginning of the game, mailboxes and trash cans can be destroyed to earn more cash, but later on, zombies will hide in them and nab you when you come too close. This makes navigating around the environment as frustrating as the combat. Not only do you get stuck on every piece of environment or enemy that you come close to, but trashcan zombies also have an unfairly long grab range, which limits the already small area of movement you have. The camera also gets stuck on every piece of the environment, which makes it difficult to get a good view of the crummy action.
Even adding a few friends to the mix doesn't make the experience any more exciting. The combat and environmental problems are always present, so unless you like complaining to your friends, you won't find any enjoyment here. Zombie Wranglers is a good concept but fails painfully in every aspect of its execution. Aside from some of the power-ups, almost nothing in this game is fun, and none of it works properly. Protect your brain and stay far away from this aggravating zombie mishap.