When it comes to iOS games I've got a particular taste for oddball time burners. The Flappy Bird and Spellgrid's of the world are perfect for getting a quick game in when you don't have a lot of time. So when I was sent Zombie Launch, I felt the familiar pull. How much time could I burn with this game?
Zombie Launch has a simple premise. Dirk is a ginger zombie in search of brains. Sadly, the world has fallen into a burning apocalypse with hot lava covering the ground. Your job is to hop Dirk across each level by stringing lines of intestines underneath him. This will send Dirk flying through the air, happily munching on the clusters of brains that hang from the sky.
Of course it's not all happy chewing. Rotting brains are also hidden within the route, and eating one will immediately drop Dirk from the sky. Occasionally Dirk will be able to catch a ride on a random crow which will allow him to zoom across the level. For the first ten or twenty times you play, your average game will last about thirty seconds, quickly followed by the desire to play again.
The game's charming art design is far more adorable than its gut-strewn premise suggests. For all the intestines strung across the screen, the level of violence never goes beyond anything you'd see in a edgy Cartoon Network show. There's no blood or visible brain chewing. In fact, it's all rather pleasant.
Even the cost is attractive. Zombie Launch is free to play without any in-app purchases or timed content walls. Instead, ads launch when you first load the app. Sometimes multiple ads in a row, which is a first for a free game that I've played. You'll dismiss one full screen ad only to discover another full screen interruption immediately behind it. However, the ads never show up during game play so they're only an annoyance at the beginning of your session.
If you feel like racing other players the game offers a multiplayer mode of sorts. While you won't get to see a herd of flying Dirks battling it out for brains, a small bubble appears at the top of the screen to tell you which player is in the lead. If you don't want to play with your Facebook friends it will even match you with other players.
That being said the game suffers from the same issue as Flappy Bird. It's a solid and addictive idea that doesn't have a lot of variation. Once you tire of flinging poor Dirk there isn't a lot to do. There are no power-ups or obvious level changes beyond a few new background screens. Still, the game's simplicity is part of its charm, and if it was any more complicated it'd defeat the purpose of being a time burner.
Zombie Launch isn't the first game to use the idea of bouncing a protagonist off drawn platforms, but its adorably macabre design couples perfectly with its quick play. The addition of multiplayer provides an extra layer of playability that expands the length of time you'll probably want to keep the game on your device. It's a charming title with a high difficultly level. If found yourself screaming your throat hoarse over Flappy Bird, Zombie Launch is a probably right up your alley. Just watch out for the rotten brains.