Welcome to “Raising ‘Cade”, a retrospective feature about the original gaming arena: the arcade. Every week, we’re setting out around the darkest corners of America in search of a different game to play. The goal? Chronicle every arcade game in existence. In part 3 of our 15,435 part series, we’re pretending to be Michael Rooker and going on a zombie raid.
The latest phase in our culture’s weird obsession with classic horror icons, moving rotting human flesh certainly doesn’t seem like it would have mainstream appeal, yet the past few years have seen zombies vaulted to the forefront of popular culture with multiple video games and one of the top rated scripted cable shows of all time. What’s more, there are zombie walks, dances and car washes (yes, that’s happening) around the country. It may be hard to believe for some of our younger readers, but our dead fleshbag friends did exist before 2010 — as much as your totally rad zombie costume you invented may otherwise say. Before it was “cool” to like zombies, however, they were a presence in many a horror fan’s heart. Case in point: 1995′s Zombie Raid.
Ironically, Zombie Raid is a cabinet that had all but disappeared until recently. Like many generic arcade cabinets throughout the ’80s and ’90s, there’s simply no reason to have them take up space in your (likely shady and pizza filled) establishment; you’d have to be out of your mind to fork over a quarter for Romstar’s Twin Cobra in 2012, or you know, writing a feature for a moderately popular gaming website. All of a sudden, however, our quest for turning up new arcade cabinets have lead us to two — that’s right two — Zombie Raids. After looking around the internet (hard-hitting research, I know), we found scattered, but similar, reports of people posting (or tweeting) something along the long the lines of “Found this zombie game today. *lame joke here*?”. Crazy indeed, my fellow chum, and certainly worth burdening your friend’s status updates with. Curious, we asked both establishments (who will remain unnamed, but both featured greasy food in a “I hope I don’t get beat up for playing an arcade game” setting) how long they had the games and where they were acquired from.
Although it makes no sense “why”, both venues were renting their games from amusement companies who would then service the machine once a month (as nothing could possibly go wrong in the other 30 days) and collect piles of quarters from machines that in all likelihood never started the game. Both places offered old arcade games, so it’s likely that these companies simply snatch up cast-offs from real arcades (or more accurately, family fun centers) for nominal amounts and bleed them dry — literally, as the wood is starting to splinter off. Why a local establishment can’t spend the fifty bucks it’d cost for their own Bad Dudes is a mystery, especially with the lucrative hot wing margins, but I suppose it’s money better spent plastering Vizio HD TVs all over and standard definition cable.
We came to find out that both places had the game dropped off in the past year and it’s no mystery why. Clearly, the games were wrapped up deep in their warehouses until one of the burly, mustached men caught wind of the zombie craze and decided to vault them back into arcades. It’s not a horrible idea, really. Not only is there a lack of zombie arcade games, but arcade games in general. Surely, one of the few remaining cab producers will release some sort of new Zombie light-gun cab (looking at you, Global VR), but until then, it’s Zombie Raid or putting your quarters into that red metal container with the sort-of santa claus in front of Rite Aid and Walgreens. Zombie Raid is the only realistic choice. Before the next horror trend comes along to steal the walkin’ dead’s thunder (mummys, anyone?), we decided to give it a go.
As 90% of players will be half-drunken couples and dudebros who after that third beer think blasting away zombies like in teh TV show with da blood, decapitations and da boring dialogue would be totally rad, the game itself doesn’t really matter too much. Repeat business is near impossible, especially with characters like these:
Twenty Zombie Raid virgins pushing a quarter into the game throughout the day, however, is likely enough to sustain its existence over a table. So for those of us drunk enough to stumble upon this game and actually think of playing it, let’s do a quick run down of how it plays. Abysmal. Utterly abysmal. While you may think the above character is simply a fluke, similar yokels populate the game in alarming amounts. For a game called Zombie Raid, it’d be safe to assume there’d be aimless zombie blasting, but our reanimated friends don’t even appear until about ten minutes in. Before that, it’s the same exact human (as in, still with a pulse and not decomposing) cowboy sprite randomly popping out from behind tombstones to shoot you for some reason. Well, alright, that’s not exactly true; there’s also gunslingers dressed in pink that look and move like pimps.
Zombies do appear, but by then most players have likely died and have not inserted a coin to continue — and those who have are simply hipster gamers playing it ironically. Their appearance doesn’t even last long — and it’s hardly a raid — more of a soirée at best. Other enemies include flying gargoyles and mummies (I’m telling you, we’re going to get a Mummy Twilight) and can you guess the strategy on how to defeat them? Hold the trigger and aim the gun. Zombie Raid features a mounted gun that actually makes the game harder with its bulk and limited swing. Usually mounted gun games feature unlimited machine gun ammo (à la L.A. Machineguns), but here it’s a pistol; a pistol that can only hold seven rounds. Firing blindly at zombies would be fun, but firing spurts of bullets with an uncomfortable gun at effeminate cowboys isn’t at all. In fact, it’s Mad Dog Mcree.
So that’s Zombie Raid for you. How a seventeen-year-old mounted light gun game couldn’t be fun is a shocker, but here we are. Maybe the renewed interest in the game will lead to a sequel. Maybe TNT will buy the rights for a competing zombie TV show (they renewed Falling Skies, after all). Who knows, but it’s your only option to blow away zombies in an arcade setting. Or House of the Dead. But that doesn’t have “zombie” in the title; the enemies could literally be anything.