Game: Dead Z Meat
Genre: Action, Arcade
System: Nintendo Switch
Developer|Publisher: isTom Games
Age Rating: EU 12+ | US Teen
Price: UK £8.99 | EU € 9,99 | US $9.99
Release Date: October 15th 2020
Review code provided with many thanks to isTom Games
Genres now Gone
A genre that’s (sort of) lost to the older generations is the light gun shooter. Something I first enjoyed all the way back on the Mega Drive with games like Lethal Enforcers and later House of the Dead and Time Crisis on future systems. I often forget that the Switch has motion control functionality like the Wii with its abilities to gyro aim with the controllers. Well Dead Z Meat is here to prove the genre is not dead yet.
It’s got Zombies
The concept is simple, it’s the apocalypse (again!) and there are zombies that need taking down. It’s up to you, the nameless hero (who shall be called Dave), to clear the screen of Zombies and save the day (again!). The zombie designs are appropriately silly, this is a game that leans more into a parody horror design. Expect to probably giggle more at the silliness than be scared. On top of that there is a level announcer who gives you commentary on your level progress shouting ‘head shot’ or ‘flawless victory’ as you lay waste to the undead. It’s almost arcade like in it’s designs. Unfortunately when it comes to the controls things become a mixed bag.
Stop and Reset
You control Dead Z Meat with a single joy con controller. You point at the screen and shoot, preferably at the zombies head which is the sweet spot and on defeat they dismember into a gelatinous zombie mess. You have a red cross hair to assist your aim but the gyro aiming feels a bit messy and often sluggish. Often when I was aiming, my joy con would not be pointing at the TV the same way a old light gun or Wii mote would. The developers clearly knew this and often remind you to press a button to reset the aiming reticle. It’s this reset button that fortunately makes the game playable. Without the ability to reset the aim I could easily see this becoming unplayable. The game does then become this mix of shooting a few zombies then remembering to reset the reticle and shoot some more.
A Different way to Play
Weirdly I found Dead Z Meat worked pretty well in handheld mode. How does that work you ask? Simple hold the Switch at arms length and the joy con in the other hand (see picture below). Sure this a very peculiar way to play this game but this might be the first hand held light gun shooter I have ever played. Plus this design only works in small bursts unless you have amazing arm strength. Oddly I found the game controlled better in handheld mode than on my TV.
The majority of the levels have you simply clearing the area of zombies which is pretty fun. Sometimes things are mixed up with levels where you use a sniper rifle to take out zombies before they reach a goal or protecting a ‘cure’ cannister from attack. These levels were tricky with the gyro controls but fortunately most have the zombies coming towards you on screen which is more manageable.
There are a lot of levels in Dead Z Meat but the environments design were repeated a lot. I often saw the same streets and dark environments over and over. But the challenges and various weird zombies made for entertaining bursts of shooter action. Avoiding damaging and scoring lots of head shots will gain you bonus points upon finishing levels or provide you with a small incentive to retry them later. You can then spend your points upgrading your weapons. You start the game out with a pistol but as you progress you unlock more weapons and the game allows you to take two into battle. The game was significantly more enjoyable with upgraded weapons and upgrade systems seem to be the way gaming is going these days so hey ho.
Single Player Only
A glaring issue is that this game is single player only. This game would have been instantly more satisfying if you were able to share the experience with someone else on the sofa or in that weird handheld setup I showed above. I asked my wife if she would hold the Switch while I shot at it but instead she understandable questioned why she could not join in the fun herself. Novelty games like this are much more enjoyable together than alone.
Room for Improvement
Dead Z Meat is a fun silly zombie shooter with some glaring control issues. Its not as good as shooter games seen on the Wii or older consoles but if you’re hungry like a Zombie this is a decent but flawed attempt on Switch.
For me it was the right amount of silly I needed right now. I hope the developers get another crack at this formula and return with a more polished experience next time.
Final Verdict: I Like it