Space Pirates and Zombies is a game that tries to be a 2D space combat simulator, an RPG, and an RTS, among other things, but only succeeds at one or two of them. The developer, Minmax Games, says that Space Pirates and Zombies (shortened here on in as SPAZ) is an action based, skill oriented, top down space combat game.
The thing is, I really did want to enjoy it. With a name like Space Pirates and Zombies, how could a game go wrong? Turns out, it’s a solid concept, but has some glaring errors with its execution.
The first thing that I noticed upon starting up the game was that the UI is, in a word, unintuitive. The fonts used in the interface, particularly in the ship-building dialog, often impair readability at the expense of sci-fi jazz, which got annoying quickly. The tooltips which show part information are also counter-intuitive, with a noticeable delay (around 1500 milliseconds) between mousing over an element and the tooltip appearing.
This, however, isn’t my main gripe with the game. The thing that really ruins the fun for me is the AI, which is wholly unforgiving, even on the “Easy” setting. When I started playing, my expectation was that, given the correct amount of skill, I would be able to get through the first missions without, well, dying. After my first ninety minutes of play I gave up in disgust after three enemy ships sniped me from offscreen.
This isn’t to say, though, that the premise of SPaZ is flawed. The design itself makes sense, the procedural generation works nicely, and the art (not the UI) is pleasantly reminiscent of Gratuitous Space Battles. It’s just that the user interface is like someone spread peanut butter on a diamond to see if it stuck and the AI is, in a word, overpowered.
In conclusion, it’s pretty good for a 2-man development team on a tight budget. It could use some major polish, but it’s not bad for a first release.
+ Game is well designed
+ Has “Space”, “Pirates”, and “Zombies” in the title
- AI is a bit too good, with perfect aim
- UI is terrible
- No zombies in the first 3 hours of the game