Have these zombies ever worked in a diner before?
From the same wheelhouse as Diner Dash or Sally’s Salon comes a new set of puzzle-strategy, time management mini-games—in collection-form—from the illustrious Picross developer, Jupiter Corporation. Working Zombies follows some of the same principles you would find in the addictive mobile hits previously mentioned, while allowing for multiplayer to come to the forefront. As enticing as these mini-games are, there just isn’t enough here for it to be something that is a must-have compared to the other titles this developer is credited with.
Outside of a few dialogue-less storyboard frames, you won’t really know much about what is happening in Working Zombies. Seemingly, you and your friends are simply helping out completing various jobs in order to get the humans in town to like the zombie protagonists, which is enough to get the ball rolling, I suppose. After each mini-game’s opening cutscene, you’re thrown into the action.
From a hairsalon setting where you will be cutting, styling, and coloring hair to an airplane where you take the role of a flight attendant—giving newspapers and drinks to the beckoning passengers—you will find this title oozing Diner Dash so closely that you might forget you’re controlling a zombie this time around. Filing customers from work station to work station while delivering them various items set around the stage is the entirety of the gameplay loop. A babysitting mini-game that works similarly to the salon and flight attendant games round out a trio of games that are addictive and enjoyable throughout.
The final mini-game, where you take on the role of a plumber, takes a step away from the gameplay of the other three to offer more of a straight puzzle game. You must get the water flowing properly through the pipes, so maneuvering the lines and utilizing the pipes sections at your disposal is paramount to passing each section. Luckily, this section can be passed at completion, regardless of the time spent, as it is much tougher than the simple run-n-click gameplay of the other three, as the pipe layouts get quite complex. It is still a good time to work through, but feels very out of place in comparison to the others, and considering you must complete the first five stages of each mini-game to unlock the following levels, it might be tough for some to get on board with this out-of-left-field mini-game after completing the rest.
Besides the odd inclusion of the plumber mini-game, the rest is pretty straightforward, as long as you have some friends to help you out. Completion in single-player is possible but it's super tough to even achieve the single star rating necessary to move on without having at least one partner. This doesn’t detract from Working Zombies, it just means the audience for it will be lessened as those looking for the next great time management, clicker title will be disappointed to have to let their little brother or spouse in on the action. All joking aside, changing the difficulty based on players would have resulted in a better product, as reaching the maximum four players makes most of the game a breeze, while you struggle solo.
Finally, the content load here is so-so at best. Beyond those four mini-games and their accompanying stages, you are left with nothing but trying for better times, star ratings, or the inclusion of new friends to gather you back into this title. It’s hard not to feel like the value proposition here is tough to recommend unless you regularly play with groups and need something fun that’ll last a weekend or two.
Working Zombies is to Diner Dash as Scribblenauts: Showdown is to Scribblenauts. A mini-game collection that feels like a shadow of the greater whole, where the enjoyable and addictive gameplay is outdone by a lack of content and variety. The multiplayer emphasis could be a good or bad thing depending on your household, but the fact that difficulty doesn’t change based on player count means you’ll either struggle alone or have an incredibly easy time with friends.