Blog:Zombie Hunter (Famicom)
We're pleased to announce that Tower of Druaga and Dragon Buster had a baby and its name is Zombie Hunter.
In this Famicom title, you control a warrior wearing golden armor, trying to find a key to move on to the next area. Sound familiar? And just like Dragon Buster, it's a side-view, weapon-swinging action game where you periodically stop to battle enemies (which are apparently all zombies). Also, most of the bosses are dragons.
More RPG elements have been added to the mix such as experience points and leveling up. Victorious battles also earn you treasure chests filled with gold, which you can use in shops hidden throughout the game. Chests may also contain items such as armor, food, medicine, new weapons, and the key to the next level. Hopefully the enemies drop enough items because this is a tough game. Grinding is recommended.
Despite the fact most of the game takes place in an underground labyrinth, the levels aren't very mazelike at all. You're given the choice of two paths at the start and that's it. Unlike Dragon Buster, the stages only scroll left and right.
Zombie Hunter's resemblance to those Namco classics isn't much of a surprise, considering it was the brainchild of programmer Fukashi Omorita, a former employee at the venerable game maker. In fact, he worked on the Famicom version of Tower of Druaga and several other conversions. He later programmed Itadaki Street for the Famicom and a Monopoly game for the Super Famicom produced by Shigesato Itoi, then joined Chunsoft, where he was involved with some visual novels and Torneko no Daibouken games.
Other people worked on the game, of course — Omorita mentions on his site a graphic designer named Suda, who died several years later at a young age. The development company Lenar was brought in to do background graphics, music, and the voice synthesis you hear on occasion. Lenar was run by Junichi Mizutari, an acquaintance of Omorita's from Namco.
Zombie Hunter was published by a company called Hi-Score Media Work, which was also responsible for a game magazine. They were sued by Enix after they ran a spoiler article on Dragon Quest II, and that may have been the start of their downfall. They did go on to release an English dictionary for the MSX (which Omorita worked on) as well as Faria, a Famicom RPG from Game Arts and something called Colon. They also appear to be behind the much-maligned PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 shooter Deep Blue, which was published by Pack-In-Video (which distributed Faria).
An MSX2 version of Zombie Hunter was also released which loses the voice samples and has choppier scrolling. The credits are the same as the Famicom version except for the addition of one programmer. It's unclear if Omorita actually worked on it as he doesn't talk about it on his site.
Activision planned a Stateside NES release called Zombie Master, but that was canceled. If you must play this, seek out the English translation by KingMike.