When we first saw Granny vs. Zombies, we were rather excited by the prospect. Sure, the zombie thing is wearing dangerously close to being played out, but in the case of something cartoonish like this, well, a fun game is a fun game, and that’s what is important.
Unfortunately for Granny vs. Zombies, it’s not a very fun game.
While there are several elements to like here, from its fun premise and character designs to the wide variety of armaments available to Granny, the whole body of work comes together about as well as that of one of the many undead you beat or blow holes in.
As soon as you load it up, you can begin to see where things are going. As usual, you are presented with a title card, but after waiting for it to fade to the usual developer logos or menu screen, you realize that you’re supposed to tap the screen to proceed. The problem is, they don’t tell you that. This is echoed when you start up the game’s story mode, which begins with comic-like panels. Once again, you expect things to move on, or to be prompted, but you’re left on your own to figure out that you’re supposed to tap the screen. In the overall scheme of things, these are minor nitpicks, but they come to reflect the almost haphazard way the whole package is assembled.
Go granny go.
The game itself is akin to the classic side-scrolling beat-‘em-ups that filled arcades in the past, titles such as Double Dragon or Final Fight. But instead of the martial arts of the Lee brothers or the spinning piledrivers of Mayor Mike Haggar, Granny just uses her walking stick to whack those terrible, naughty zombies who are tearing up the neighborhood. It doesn’t take long before you find and acquire more weapons, like pistols, pipe bombs, shotguns, grenades, rifles, and rocket launchers.
But despite all these armaments, it seems that the game doesn’t want you to use them… at least, not at first. Granny’s walking stick does just fine in the first level, sometimes to better effect than the weapons you acquire (except the pipe bombs, which seem to attract zombies to their location, letting you blast a bunch at once). And even if you opt to use the weapons, some seem to require pixel-perfect alignment between Granny and her target to score a hit, leading to plenty of wasted ammo.
Then you come to the second level, where the rules change without warning. Instead of walking through the house, you are behind a wall of crates and boxes, with others scattered about to slow down the oncoming zombie horde. It turns out that this is where you need every bit of ammunition you can get your hands on, though even then it feels as though it may not be enough. Your walking stick is nigh-useless here, and you need to blow away the zombies before they penetrate your defenses; they approach in a fashion similar to Plants vs Zombies. And if a single one gets past you, no matter how much life you have, you’re done for. It’s an objective that would have been kind of nice to know before you begin the level.
The Zombie Zapper 5000: it’s there when you need it.
This pattern of beat-‘em-up and Plants vs. Zombies-wannabe levels repeat as you continue on. Oddly, you can easily skip any troublesome levels by pausing and selecting the skip option. Though subsequent levels are locked at the start, they become unlocked if you choose to skip the level, and you’ll even get whatever achievements and unlockables come with completing the level. But with only eight levels in the game, it feels like a wasted purchase if you decide you’d rather skip half of them.
And rest assured, the temptation will come up. Granny moves about as quickly as you would expect a senior citizen with a walking stick to, which does little to aid your efforts in fighting the undead. Worse, Granny seems to have a tendency to want to face left, though the zombies tend to come from the right, and even seems to move more quickly in that direction. Things can get even worse still as the action occasionally moves behind the virtual control stick or button, making your thumb obscure your view. There is also an unlockable character in Grandpa, who is wheelchair bound, and controls even worse than Granny.
Granny vs. Zombies is not an unbearable game, but all of its flaws– the controls, especially– combine to essentially negate any positives it may have, creating an altogether “meh” experience. But as it is, you’d be better off downloading Double Dragon and Plants vs. Zombies– you’ll have a better, more polished-feeling experience, even if it costs you a little more.