Sounds like the title of some tacky, gruesome drive-in movie, doesn't it? Possibly one too awful even for Vincent Price. But, in fact, Horror Zombies From The Crypt is an exploration game similar in style to Ubisoft's Night Hunter. You play the role of one Count Valdemar, who drops in on the country retreat of Gory Manor. You must explore an entire six levels to complete the game and return to normal life.
As you wander round the Manor you have to find your way past zombies, shrouded spectres and even the occasional vampire. You can shoot many of the ugly monsters in your path but some are invulnerably and you have to find other ways past them. Fortunately, you can climb ladders in the background or leap onto the occasional platform. The Count can also interact with the backgrounds - moving trolleys around to climb platforms or shifting objects to fool the monsters.
Throughout the action there are heaps of bonus items to collect - like keys to unlock doors, boots to sneak past monsters or weaponry to fend off attack - and you must pick up all the skulls in a given level to advance onto the next.
The six levels span 600 screens. The first is inside the Manor, with its backdrops of patterned wallpaper and ostentatious furniture. Other levels take you into a nearby village, off to a hidden cave and into the crypt. The backdrops are hugely detailed and there are many platforms and ladders to leap onto or climb.
The playing sprites are clearly animated and effectively leap around the levels. You can even get your hero to tip-tow past some of the more ferocious enemies to escape attack. The graphics are generally excellent, although some routines - particularly climbing ladders and walking down stairs - look dubious.
The sound effects are brilliant. Sampled spot noises and a clear intro tune set the 1950's B-movie tone superbly.
The adventure and arcade mix in Horror Zombies From The Crypt is either its making or breaking point, depending on which side of the fence you sit: if you're a devout shoot-'em-up fan, then the adventure/exploration side of the game is going to put you off, and vice versa. However, if you like a good joystick blast before you go to work and then a strategy to relax with in the evening, you could easily find a spot for Horror Zombies.
The problems confronting you are enormously entertaining. It's occasionally tricky lining yourself up to make a precise jump across a platform or finding a way past some of the invincible aliens, but that's what gives the game its wonderful appeal. The game would have benefitted from having still move interaction with objects, but this is only a tiny complaint. A great idea, cleverly executed and with enough collectable bonuses to keep you playing for hours on end.