Welcome to our weekly feature, Virtually Overlooked, wherein we talk about games that aren't on the Virtual Console yet, but should be. Call it a retro-speculative.
Zombie Nation is easily the best game ever created about a flying, disembodied samurai head. Don't try to argue with us on this one. We feel pretty confident that we're right about this. Oh, and it's a shmup, as well. Boring spaceships have nothing on a giant head.
Why the game hasn't been announced for Virtual Console yet:
We don't even know if developer/publisher Meldac is still around, or who has the rights to their properties. What we are sure of is that Zombie Nation is a little too obscure for these early days of VC. There's a lot of first-party Nintendo stuff to get through before stuff like this shows up.
Why we think it should be on the Virtual Console:
With the announcement of two Resident Evil games coming to the Wii, why shouldn't Nintendo celebrate by releasing some zombie-related games from their back catalogue? This one at least has Zombie right there in the title, and the samurai-head guy probably fits the description of "undead". Also, shooting games seem to be pretty popular on the VC. We don't know about numbers, but they must be, because more keep showing up. But all of this is peripheral to the real reason we want this game on the VC. We don't know how we could spell it out more explicitly: it's a game about a flying disembodied samurai head.
We think it's a competent enough shooter, although we can't really say much about the game past the first level because of its difficulty. You shoot what appears to be eyeballs and vomit to destroy buildings that are in your way, and rescue the people that fall out (although is falling onto an enormous zombie head any better than just hitting the ground?) while tanks, planes and other enemies try to shoot you down for some reason, possibly because oh my God it's a huge head shooting eyeballs and vomit at us kill it kill it. The game's story would have you believe that your character has awoken to retrieve a powerful sword from an evil overlord, but that's just revisionist history. There's no way that the big samurai head destroying every building in town and killing the (newly animated) Statue of Liberty is the good guy. And we're okay with that.
Zombie Nation is one of the weirdest games on a console known for its weird games. It deserves to be celebrated for that distinction.