iOS Game Review: 'Zombie Jombie'


Gree's collectible card game Zombie Jombie raises two important questions: can a social collectible card game work on a portable device, and just what the hell is a "jombie"?

The simple story is that, in the wake of the zombie apocalypse, evil humans have started ruling over the cities as tyrants, and it's up to you to raise an army of undead to wage war against these evil bosses.  This is achieved through collecting virtual cards, which you do so by completing Mafia Wars-style missions, and finally dueling with your card-based zombie army against these foes.

It's remarkably simple to pick up and play (which is always a benefit on an iPhone-based game), and the gameplay is simple and satisfying in the short bursts that the game allows you before your energy needs to recharge.  The CCG aspect of the title is simplified to basic attack and defense stats dictating the outcome of battles, which makes the online dueling aspect of the game against other players a simple, one-button affair.

Where the game tries to expand upon its simplicity without overwhelming the casual player is its Fusion system, which lets you enhance your cards by combining them with up to six other lower-level cards.  It's an easy way to weed out the dozens of low-end fighters you'll stumble upon in your travels, as well as a way to keep your momentum in your goal of zombie rebellion.

The social aspect is also fairly pronounced, allowing you to "rent" powerful cards from friends to fight off the human bosses, as well as trade items or do battle.  It's simple and clean, due in no small part to the game's Openfeint integration, and almost completely transparent to the player.

The best part of the game, however, has to be the slick art style.  The cartoony artwork on the cards is suitably gruesome without taking itself seriously, sitting somewhere on the intersection of Joe Madureira and a stack of Garbage Pail Kids.  The variety is also a hoot, giving the player access to zombie children, zombie Dobermans or—horror of horrors—zombie hipsters, complete with messenger bags and ironic fedoras.

The super-simple, pick up and play aspect of the game makes this game appealing, its zombie-themed artwork makes it enticing, but ultimately it's the price—free—that makes Zombie Jombie irresistible.  I may not have any clue what the hell a "jombie" is, but I still enjoyed the hell out of this fun game.

Zombie Jombie is available on the iTunes Store.