(F)Undead!

Well, it beggars belief, but App Store newcomers Crazy Bit take two of iOS’ most hackneyed genres – the zombie game (groan) and 2D Tower Defense (double-groan) respectively – schmoosh ’em together, and, against all odds, still trot out one of the most addictive, visually unique and fantastically entertaining titles I’ve had the pleasure of playing all month. Yup, Zoombie Digger (out now, $0.99) is that good.

Zoombie Digger, so called, I presume, because it sees you doing battle with the reanimated corpses of zoo animals (geddit?), fuses grim humor and a garishly grotesque Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) style aesthetic with a suitably insane ‘defend your home from invasion by a menagerie of mutant beasties’ premise and a hefty dose of hectic, fast-paced gameplay.

The result is an extraordinarily bizarre little game. Bizarre but a whole lot of fun. Following a brilliant tutorial that swiftly takes you through the basics of Zoombie Digger’s Tower Defense-esque mechanic and familiarizes you with your arsenal of ker-razy weaponry, it’s time to go to war. Each stage tasks you with protecting your crib from the likes of tommy gun weilding grizzly bears, skateboarding roadkill, surprisingly agile undead hedgehogs and more.

Armed with a shovel, the idea is to put these demented critters back where they belong – six feet under. The game utilizes a commendably slick tap-and-drag control scheme, e.g.: three taps on the screen to dig a grave/drag and drop an enemy into the hole/another three taps in quick succession to bury the little monster. In addition to your trusty shovel, there are a host of other weapons at your disposal, which range from the standard (a slingshot and bombs) to the downright silly (a flying cow that dispatches enemies with chunks of excrement while strumming on a guitar). I did already mention Zoombie Digger is a pretty unusual game, didn’t I?

Weaponry can be upgraded between levels, while there’s a decent amount of extra fire-power available from the in-game store. Which is a good job, because as you work your way through Zoombie Digger’s more than generous offering of 40+ stages, the action gets increasingly frenetic and the zombie hordes somehow manage to get their decomposing mitts on some serious ordnance, like tanks, nuclear warheads and, um, pogo sticks.

As fun-packed and visually stunning as the latter segment of the game inarguably is (an array of utterly bonkers boss enemies definitely deserve a special mention!), unfortunately it lacks the finesse of early levels, descending into button mashing free-for-all, where to survive you must rely on dumb luck rather than strategy or the skills you’ve built up while playing. Still, an endless barrage of visual gags come just as thick and fast as the outlandish action, and, trust me, you’ll have a hard time not busting a gut laughing at skeletal crocodiles driving tanks or kamikaze bears riding bombs Dr. Strangelove style.

It’s a little uneven, but, all in all, this elaborately detailed, off the wall indie gem is as fun as it is funny and gets my heartiest recommendation!

iFanzine Verdict: Like zombies? You’ll love Zoombie Digger! Heck, even if you don’t particularly like zombie games, or indeed the tower defense genre, Zoombie Digger’s whacked-out sense of fun and outlandish eye-candy are still well worth the price of admission. This is one of those titles I really hope everyone and their mother downloads, simply because I can’t wait to see what Crazy Bit cook up next!

[xrr rating=4/5]