Day 146: ZSX4 Guitarpocalypse

Posted: 2011/04/04 in Indie Games

I’m purchasing an Xbox Live Indie Game (XBLIG) every day, seeking out the quality titles that got lost in the shuffle and are not well represented in the top 50 lists on the Xbox Dashboard. Today is day #146, and today’s game is “ZSX4 Guitarpocalypse”.

Hidden on the very last page of the Indie Games catalogue (when sorted alphabetically), the second to last game starting with the letter “Z” in the list of nearly 2000 titles, is a nearly forgotten gem of the XBLIG service, from a developer with a strong track record and some very popular titles on both XBLIG and Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA). That developer is Ska Studios (known for “I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES!!!1”, “ZP2K9”, Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) games “The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai” and “The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile”, and “ZP2KX: Zombies & Pterodactyls!”. That nearly forgotten game is ZSX4 Guitarpocalypse.

First, from the developer (Jamezilla):

“Batter your enemies senseless with Rock Fu and Guitarpocalyptic Power Chords in this quick to pick up, nasty to master arena brawler. The most tenacious will prevail in this apocalyptic brawl between ninjas, zombies, pirates, cyborgs, and punks!”

This was the first game Ska Studios released, and it seems to have been overshadowed by the success of subsequent releases (which deservingly grabbed a big share of the spotlight). However, ZSX4 (which stands for “Zombie Smashers X4 Guitarpocalypse!”) is a great game and deserving of another day in the sun.

As is a trademark of the Z-series of Ska games, the levels have a crazy style that is perfectly befitting the equally crazed combat. You begin by selecting your character, then your guitar, at which point it’s kill or be killed in an arena where hordes of zombies, as well as your opponents, are out to kill you. This was before the zombie craze on XBLIG, so Ska Studios can legitimately claim to be a trend-maker rather than a trend follower.

Controls are simple: a button to punch, a button to kick, and a button to trigger an overhead smash with your guitar. The right analogue stick is uses to play solos that engage special powers. As you fight off the zombies and your opponents, you have to watch out for environmental hazards, and even a huge cat that emerges from the ground (Gears of War-style) and shoots fire from its eyes.

As with Super Smash Bros, and other arena-style brawlers, the game is definitely at its best with multiple human players enjoying the game together in local multiplayer on a single Xbox (up to four can join in together), but the game has bots take over for empty player slots for solo play. With the crazy level design (including fights where you have to avoid spinning sawblades, and fight in crazy locales such as on a gigantic walking robot). It’s not hard to get your 80 Microsoft Points of enjoyment out of ZSX4.

Click here to download “ZSX4 Guitarpocalypse”, and then please come back after playing to rate the game.



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