Genre splicing is so commonplace these days that there’s hardly a fanfare played out when some new mode or sub-genre sidesteps into another. Despite all of this, one mechanic which continues to not be fused up into other game types is that of the old arcade classic, pinball. Well, not until Zombie Rollerz.
Zombie Rollerz is a fusion of aRPG and pinball, all presented as a twisting storyline where you (in the form of an expanding squad of heroes) fight back against an encroaching horde of zombies. The developers, Zing Games, have actually previously released the game — it was released on mobile platforms a few years back. However, the upcoming (releasing in November) PC version appears to be overhauled and rebuilt for the bigger screen. It’s this PC version which I played most recently, while at Casual Connect London 2019, although it has been doing the rounds at various other events.
It’s the pinball element which drew me in, while cartoon-y zombies and undead are an interesting appeal, they’ve had more than enough showtime as pulpy, weapon-fodder over the last decade. Each of the 150+ levels feature a left and right paddle at the base of the screen, with the ball acting as your primary method of attack. Naturally, not all enemies go down in one hit, and there are also other distractions (like saving villagers) to give you a reason to not just pummel the ball up the field without aiming.
There’s also special moves too, these really add a lot of flavour to the game and give justification to the existence of the odd bunch of compatriots that you collect throughout the campaign.
It isn’t all pinball however, there are overworld maps which are comprised of beautifully designed, hex-based environments. You’ll navigate these between pinball battles, finding items, loot and new allies as you explore the story. While the whole game is especially charming, these segments highlight the fantastic design choices behind Zombie Rollerz, and it makes me long for a little RPG from Zing Games set entirely in this style.
Zombie Rollerz is due to launch on PC in November of this year.