Zoombies is a fiesta of undead carnage

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This is Portabliss, a column about downloadable games that can be played on the go.

Zoombies is a fiesta of undead carnage
Say the name High Voltage, and your first thought might be the Conduit series of first-person shooters (or this). While the studio is indeed known most recently for The Conduit, one of its other ideas has been languishing for quite some time, namely Animales de la Muerte. Originally slated for WiiWare, and then for XBLA and PSN, the game has finally found a home on iOS.

Renamed Zoombies: Animales de la Muerte, the game tells the story of two children who must save a Mexican zoo from being overrun by a horde of zombified animals. To do this, the kids utilize every available tool of destruction, ranging from axes to shotguns, roman candles and even the occasional dollop of guacamole.

Zoombies is the most festive zombie game I've ever played, and it's also one of the most immediately entertaining.%Gallery-188503%Every part of Zoombies revolves around the same simple mechanic. As zoombies and friendly animals march from the right side of the screen, you draw a path with your finger through the approaching mob. Your chosen character (a girl or boy) will then toss your equipped weapon, which will precisely follow the path and then return, at which point you can draw another path.

At its most basic level, that's it. All you have to do is kill all of the approaching zoombies and save as many of the living, friendly animals as you can. The challenge comes from learning to plan ahead, taking into account how long it takes for your weapon to travel and making sure that it will make contact with the nasty animals. Along the way, you unlock new weapons and abilities, which come in handy for dealing with new and more difficult kinds of zoombies.

For example, elephants have thick hides and require two shots to kill. That is unless you have a roman candle, which can take them down in a single hit. Penguins, meanwhile, can slide under your weapons. This can be countered with the Murder of Crows weapon. (How do you use crows as a weapon? Ask Booker DeWitt.) Every weapon counters a specific zoombie, and picking the right one can make certain levels much easier. Oh, and I should probably mention that one of the available weapons is a Chupacabra.

You can also unlock special abilities (called Especiales) that give you an extra edge. Some of these are passive, like weapons that travel faster or return instantly. Others can be deployed on command, like bear traps that instantly kill zoombies, or piles of guacamole that slow them down.

The real fun of Zoombies emerges once you start to appreciate how complex your weapon paths can be. Before long, you're eliminating huge masses of zoombies all at once, watching as your trusty axe changes direction repeatedly, connecting with every zoombie on screen at exactly the right time. Or you could just scribble like a 2-year-old with a coloring book and hope for the best.

Much like other iOS games, each level comes with a set of specific missions that add some extra challenge. There are five such mission in every level, some tasking you with killing every zoombie or saving a certain number of animals. Others require you to cut down a certain number of zoombies using a single path or to collect a certain number of coins (these are used to buy upgrades, incidentally). The missions help add some variety to Zoombies, and they encourage you to try out different weapons and abilities.

Zoombies is addictive and fast-paced, and it's easy to plow through half a dozen levels before you realize how long you've been playing. There's a steady stream of weapons and abilities to unlock, and the challenge slowly ramps up with new zoombie types and more demanding levels. None of it is hampered by forced in-app purchases either (though the option is there, if you can't be bothered to unlock items the old fashioned way). And again, the whole thing is just so darned festive. For a game about slaughtering hundreds of zombified animals, that's pretty impressive.

Zoombies: Animales de la Muerte is available now for $3 on iOS, and it's easily worth your time.

This review is based an iTunes download of Zoombies: Animales de la Muerte, provided by High Voltage.
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