It’s a neat trick to turn a passive fairy tale about virginity and chastity into a zombie-filled action game.
I don’t even know where to start with this game. I mean, just read its title. Little Red Riding Hood’s… Zombie BBQ. The images conjured up in the head from this are absurd to the point of either insanity or genius. I want you to imagine a board of directors meeting in which a skinny little vice president has a big idea that he wants to share.
“I have an idea,” says the skinny VP. “Why don’t we take cherished, old, and fortunately public domain fairy tales and fracture them with a new take?”
The director says, “Have you ever seen Shrek? Or perhaps caught an episode of Rocky and Bullwinkle?”
“I’m not done,” the lean VP says. “Let’s take them all and add zombies! And the hero… heroine… will be Little Red Riding Hood with help from… a ninja! A ninja named Momotaro! You know, after that old Japanese legend? The Peach Boy!”
“Hmm… but who would they fight?” the director says.
“Zombies! And they can fight other people from the fairy tales! Who are also zombies! And a zombified Santa Claus! And Godzilla!”
“Gentlemen, we have reached an accord,” the director says as he motions for his gavel. But before the meeting can be properly adjourned, the lunch bell rings and recess is over.
I know I’m making it sound like they didn’t put much thought into it, but if you can get away with making games about baking cakes, picking noses, and screwing the caps onto pens, I suppose no idea is too outlandish for a game.
But this isn’t the point here. The point is to shoot zombies, and this game has a whole lot of that. And let me be the first to tell you that this game surprised the hell out of me with how competent it is. The action takes place in a third-person view on the bottom and top DS screens, linked together to make a sort of “corridor” that Little Red Riding Hood or Momotaro run through. Red Hood and Momotaro will slowly advance upwards through a 3D corridor and take on waves of zombies, machine-gunned or throwing starred to death. Yeah, Momotaro is a ninja whose weapon is throwing stars — that he shoots out of a gun.
The stages are all ripped from the stories, such as the North Pole and the candy forest from Hansel and Gretel. Of special note is Gretel herself, who appears in this game as a boss that fights you after having successfully eaten the Gingerbread House Witch and subsequently Hansel. Her weapon of choice is the dismembered leg of her partially-consumed brother.
You see, you need to be in the right mindset for this game. If you ever find it lying around an EB or GameStop shelf, I want you to put it behind another more popular game, leave the store, and then come back in and “discover” it. It’s the “what the hell?” reaction when you see a game named Little Red Riding Hood’s Zombie BBQ behind some Sonic game that I’m shooting for. I’d almost call it a grindhouse game if the term wasn’t already beaten into the ground. It will definitely be on several social network blog ”Top Ten Strange Games” lists in the future. And it would probably top them all if the game didn’t get too repetitive too quickly.
The sundry aspects of the game don’t really matter as much as the concept, but here are the details. The environments are 3D, and the heroes, zombies, and bosses are 2D sprites. The controls are simple; touch to shoot, and double-tap the screen to shoot a grenade. You change weapons by tapping an unfortunately-placed icon on the screen, that is frequently hit accidentally in the midst of all the action. The music is unfortunately forgettable, comprised of strumming rock chords that are mostly drowned out by the sounds of zombie fighting.
So here I’m left with a final thought on whether to recommend this game or not. I can guarantee you that you won’t see another like it for a while, because this isn’t your typical game pitch to a publisher. Little Red Riding Hood’s Zombie BBQ is a competent - if not exceptional - exemplar of a bygone era in game design. It does nothing fancy and has no message, aside from giving a possible critique on the continuing absurdity of zombie movies (But how to kill them? They are, like their material, undead. And “zombie barbeque?” Would that be cannibalism? But they aren’t dead, right? Do you have to un-cook the un-dead? Now that’s meta).
I’d say look into your own heart. I can only guide you to the pool; it’s up to you to dive in. But if you are a shoot-em-up fan, you won’t leave this game disappointed.