While there are plenty of classy games on the Xbox Live Arcade, the service is home to more than its fair share of absolute crap. Unfortunately, Zombie Wranglers falls somewhere towards the latter. The game seems to be aimed at children, putting players in control of one of up to four kiddies - each one looking like they've been ripped straight out of Jet Grind Radio, all looking about as cool as Poochie the dog - as they go about suburbia. As one might infer from the title, zombies have started climbing up out of the ground all over the place, and it's up to the kiddies to suck them up with a giant vacuum cleaner before they eat the local populace. There aren't any shortage of the blighters, with skater zombies, medieval zombies, postman zombies and even fat, vomiting zombies doing their best to ruin everyone's day.
Levels are broken up into three or so sub-sections, each with a specific objective - which is usually always kill zombies and collect items. Players are equipped with several ways to dispose of the local undead population. Players can perform a quick melee attack, though it will only temporarily stun any nearby zombie. There's a big bomb option, that will take out all zombies within a small radius. A projectile weapon is available, which will kill most lower-rung zombies without much trouble, and do some serious damage to the badder ones. The catch? You only get as many Zombucks as you would if you sucked them up in your Ghostbuster-esque vacuum.
Zombucks can be used throughout each level in the game to buy power-ups, which can make players stronger, invincible, faster and so on. Considering the amount of money players make from zombie-sucking, the power-ups are rather inexpensive, allowing them to be used almost constantly throughout the game, which makes things a little bit spicier - something that the game desperately needs.
However, it's difficult to enjoy the added spice when the controls are incredibly clunky. Player movement is solid enough, but the problems start to occur when inundated with zombies - something that, as you could probably imagine, happens quite often. Zombies can knock a player down with a single hit, meaning a several second delay before the player regains control. In that time, it's possible to take another hit if the melee attack button isn't pressed in time. Irritating.
The game also takes the cheap route far too often, with zombies attacking from behind, sneak bat/squirrel/wasp assaults that require players to rotate the analog stick (they also can't be killed. and will do this over and over if one doesn't run away from them), bosses that are only vulnerable when stunned (which isn't very often), horrible clipping and enemies with inexplicably long reaches that perform damage, despite there being plenty of distance between the player and the enemy. Frustrating, frustrating, frustrating. Oh, and then there's the final boss. Without giving too much away, expect a long, drawn-out battle, which puts the player at a ridiculously unfair disadvantage. Best be tackling it with other players, then. Multiplayer makes the game more bearable, largely because the game can't be as cheap with two players watching each others' backs. Up to four players can team up to unleash hell on the zombies in co-op play, while there is also Arena mode, which allows players to duel rather than work together. Either way, it's still not massively interesting.
The game does look quite pretty, with some rather nice cel-shaded graphics keeping things bright. Unfortunately, levels are incredibly repetitive, with all houses, tents and fences looking exactly the same as every single one previous to it. Not only is it irritating to look at, the repetition can make level navigation unintuitive, and lead to the occasional moment of running around in a big circle. Of course, the biggest problem with the visuals is the dated camera. It gets stuck on basically everything - even tiny lamp posts in the middle of an otherwise open street. This can lead to whipping the right analog stick frantically to avoid being slaughtered by zombies that could not be seen on a regular basis.
There isn't really any reason to give Zombie Wranglers a try. It's a dated, boring, by-the-numbers beat 'em up 3D platformer that brings nothing new to the table. It has little depth, and the only challenge comes from the game being disgustingly cheap - and even that isn't really enough challenge, as most players will be able to romp through this one rather quickly, with the exception of the final boss. Multiplayer does make things somewhat more enjoyable, but at the end of the day, this simply isn't worth anywhere near 800 MS points - even for kids who have a bit of an odd obsession with zombies.