Zombies Ate My Neighbors, the greatest videogame of the 16-bit era, makes its return to consoles this June!

LucasArt’s classic run-and-gun game, along with the much more obscure sequel Ghoul Patrol, will be arriving on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, as well as Steam and GOG on June 29th, 2021, and should retail for around $15 for both games.

To celebrate the exciting news about this horror comedy gaming classic, here are five things to know when you either replay, or play for the first time!

Courtesy of MobyGames: https://www.mobygames.com/game/snes/zombies-ate-my-neighbors/cover-art/gameCoverId,75372/
One of my choices for most iconic video game box art ever.

1. Hit the Bonus Level First!

Courtesy of Mobygames: https://www.mobygames.com/game/snes/zombies-ate-my-neighbors/screenshots/gameShotId,35538/
The Tentacles appear twice in the game, the bonus level, and the developer credits level (pictured)

The first level of the game, “Zombie Panic!” features a secret token that opens a bonus level. This bonus level, “Day of the Tentacle” serves as an homage to Lucasart’s Day of the Tentacle adventure game and features a great many powerful items early on. The problem is that your chances of accessing it at slim. You’ll need a monster potion or bazooka to destroy the hedge wall in the northeastern section of the map, but both items are very rare in the first level. They don’t exist as standard pickups and may only spawn from cabinets and trashcans if you are very lucky.

However, with the right password, you can hit the bonus level first, load up on items such as the bazooka, and then start at the first level to replay the bonus level again. Simply use the passcode BCDF to do this. Is it cheap? Not really, you’ll likely play the same level twice. Given the hordes of monsters as you progress through the 50 or so levels you should take any advantage you can.

2. Rescue First, Gather Later!

Courtesy of MobyGames: https://www.mobygames.com/game/snes/zombies-ate-my-neighbors/screenshots/gameShotId,35527/
Don’t let your Victims get got… they take a long time to respawn.

The Victims are your lifeblood in this game. You begin with ten per level and if you fall to zero victims to rescue in a level it is game over. Victims can be returned when you hit certain score thresholds, but it really is in your best interest to rescue them as fast as you can and not lose a single cheerleader, baby, or tourist.

Not all Victims are at risk, however, so be sure to prioritize your rescues based on monsters and victim exposure. Trampoline Kids, for example, are general safe from any harm, allowing you to focus on more exposed Victims, such as those out in the open. Locked doors are often helpful for keeping victims out of reach, but some monsters may still be able to reach them. Don’t neglect Pool Guys on levels with Fishmen either, early in the game the guys floating in swimming pools are generally safe. Not so much as you progress.

With the Victims as your priority, don’t worry about scoring monster kills or gathering items until you’ve spawned the exit door, that way you’ll always have a quick out when needed.

3. Use the Radar!

Courtesy of MobyGames: https://www.mobygames.com/game/snes/zombies-ate-my-neighbors/screenshots/gameShotId,35530/
Your radar is going to make rescuing tourists far easier.

The radar in the game is a proximity-based window that lists the current Victim count and their relative positions to you within a certain range. This is especially helpful on more maze-like levels. As soon as you pop into a level, activate your radar and start rescuing civilians. This is your priority.

Use a combination of your radar, situational awareness, and caution to make sure you keep your Victim tally high. Victims are also worth various levels of points, so you’ll need to make sure you maximize your run every time.

Remember to rescue based on Victim vulnerability, and don’t fret if they are surrounded by monsters, there is a way around that…

4. When in Doubt, Run Away!

Courtesy of MobyGames: https://www.mobygames.com/game/snes/zombies-ate-my-neighbors/screenshots/gameShotId,613922/
Your priority should be rescuing every victim you can, even if you may need to run away to save their lives!

Computer memory in classic gaming consoles could be very limited. You can actually use this to your advantage to maximize your gameplay. Specifically, enemies that fall a certain range off screen will despawn. How helpful can this be? Well, consider two scenarios.

Scenario A: A lone dog is menaced by a crowd of zombies and you are separated from it by a wall. if you manage to get the dog and the zombies off your screen there is a chance the zombies despawn, giving you a chance to find another way to the dog. Remember, monsters will vanish, but the Victims will not, as their positions are preset.

Scenario B: If you are being menaced by one of the sub-boss monsters, such as Chainsaw Guys, Vampires, and Werewolves, you can get them to despawn by getting them off your screen. The range will vary, but this can be very helpful at times if you can get it to work.

5. Some Weapons are Stronger than Others!

Courtesy of MobyGames: https://www.mobygames.com/game/snes/zombies-ate-my-neighbors/screenshots/gameShotId,35523/
Bazookas are your most powerful tools and can often be found near soldiers you rescue.

The arsenal of Zombies Ate My Neighbors can be large and wacky, but there are some key weapons and items you’ll want to gather and use. Your most frequently used item is also the most basic: the Water Gun.

The Water Gun is filled with Holy Water and will kill a zombie in a single hit, but it can also deal damage to most other monsters and is surprisingly effective. The Fire Extinguisher will freeze and weaken monsters and is a great way to control the assaults of the sub-bosses. The Weed Whacker creates a sustained pool of damage in front of you and is surprisingly powerful in shredding monsters, but the ultimate practical solution in dealing with sinister alien weeds.

There are also so many more items to consider but above all use your bazooka sparingly. It is one of the few items that can destroy barricades. We’ve not even covered the top-secret flamethrower in the game… but that is for a future article.

Are you excited about the return of Zombies Ate My Neighbors? Are you looking forward to experiencing it for the first time? How about Ghoul Patrol? Share your thoughts on this gaming classic with us. We’ll be covering more about this classic game and the more obscure sequel over the coming months.

About the Author

David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

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