So you just read my review of Zombies Ate My Neighbors and now you want to know if the direct sequel matches up. Or do you? Even if you clicked this page by mistake (ed.: I should’ve kept the typo “licked”), you’re already familiar with Ghoul Patrol, and you already have an opinion, and you want me to agree with you.
Far and wide, Ghoul Patrol is almost as hard to defend as Episodes I-III of Star Wars. I might as well go to Ska Weekend in Southern California with a sign reading “Skateboarding is not a crime,” because the result will be just about the same. There isn’t even really enough material to even make a fantastic essay theme or gimmick to saturate comedy in place of actual content, like if I wanted to present this review as a LAW AND ORDER episode, or as an after-school special about zombies, or in an iambic pentameter verse sung to Baroque Lute and Quaalude fashion, which no one, including those atheist theatre pussies, can remember how to do.
If, by some unimaginable stretch of the imagination (ed.: Good one, Meteo!)…Fuck you Paul! (ed.: Why didn’t I edit that out?)…ahem, you came across this review and have as little an idea of what’s going on as I do when Prairie Home Companion comes on, then let’s get it out of the way: PEOPLE HATE GHOUL PATROL. It couldn’t be any more simple than that. What is it about sequels out of the Lucas production that disappoint and infuriate beyond a rational capacity? Go look at the GameFAQs review section for this game if you don’t believe me (no, don’t). They are some of the most misguided, cancer-stricken opinions I’ve seen outside of the Richard Dawkins Awards.
“So what makes your review any better?”
Who the fuck said that…!? OK, whoever you are, I’ll tell you. I loved Zombies Ate My Neighbors, and I was IN love with Zombies Ate My Neighbors, but I wasn’t so smitten that I couldn’t recognize a good thing when I saw it. Ghoul Patrol is every bit a Zombie Ate…My…Neighbor…fuck…and the fact that it will never be the classic the original was cannot, in any logical process, remove the fact that it’s still a good play.
Ghoul Patrol and Zombies Ate My Neighbors are not typical. They don’t have a father-son or twin sibling relationship. They are more like identical cousins (boy, I can still hear Mom explaining how that happened to me). They are vastly different, yet kindred spirits cut from the same gib. Ghoul Patrol stars a made-over Zeke and Julie, in a similar quest to rescue 10 neighbors in any given screen. It features overhead shooting action, labyrinths, and so on. But the similarities are only skin-deep. Everything that ZAMN did, Ghoul Patrol does not do. The differences in play are pretty shocking and really set the twin cousins (oh god I just vomited again) apart.
The reason for this is that Ghoul Patrol is not an arcade-style game like ZAMN; it’s a full-fledged action title. What’s the difference, you ask, again out of nowhere, scaring the shit out of me? Well, for one, arcade games are usually designed for quick 10-20 minutes of play without any real depth or progression. They’re about points, power-ups, and getting to the next level, which is what ZAMN is about. You can start on any level in ZAMN and it almost doesn’t matter; there is no real progression in the levels.
Ghoul Patrol is nothing like that. Here, you really get to control you characters and have them run, jump, and slide (yep, you get a slide to get out of the way this time) without power-ups. You have five themed stages, like China, medieval England, and etc. You get real bosses at the end of the stages this time. Additionally, you have to make use of your new jumping skills to leap onto castle walls and over broken bridges, so, in essence, Ghoul Patrol is a platformer, too. There is a lot more in the way of traps and hurtables, and falling into a hole will cost you a whole life.
Now this is where it gets tricky, because the differences are much more numerate in number (God, I’m really sucking this time) and contrast sharply with ZAMN. You get five themed stages, but only a grand total of 15 levels and five boss screens. Well, this really cuts down the time it takes to beat the game, though the levels are also larger and require a lot more out of you. You get a completely brand new set of weapons and mostly new items, but they’re not nearly as well balanced or numerate as ZAMN’s. You get REAL guns this time around. The graphics and animation are a lot more detailed and lush in this game, and the music is real music this time, but both give the game a more generic cartoon feel than the uniquely insane atmosphere ZAMN has. Oh, big thing—there are NO BONUSES this time either for killing monsters or saving victims.
Speaking of victims, they aren’t even in any real danger this time. You would have to intentionally let all ten of them die before you can get a game over, and at the end of each boss level, all ten victims are restored for the next stage. You get a small story and some cutscenes in this game (which I loved as a kid), but it’s PLENTY to sneeze at and doesn’t even really make sense. (Why are two 20-something hipsters going to the library to see a rad “exhibit”? Libraries don’t have exhibits.)
There’s still more, like the fact that you get a bazooka and you have to waste a whole monster potion just to blow open a hole, but surprisingly, none of these items greatly diminish the gameplay. The real reason a sequel sucks is not because of a lot of minor changes, but because it doesn’t feel like the original, and Ghoul Patrol does. It’s still the same basic game and still has the same basic feeling.
People hate Ghoul Patrol…but what they’re not seeing is that they kind of want to. Why do people want sequels to be superior to the originals, anyway? If Ghoul Patrol surpassed ZAMN like everyone wanted it to, you’d have no reason to ever play ZAMN again, would you? Ghoul Patrol is the perfect sequel. It’s different but feels like the original, and it isn’t so great that you can’t appreciate the original.
But if you still think this successor to ZAMN is too weird, just wait until you see Herc’s Adventures….