063712_largerI can't be the only person who's totally sick of zombies. Our media is absolutely saturated with them. When zombies start showing up in Call of Duty, you know they're played out. Faced with this dilemma, Developers Game Whizzes decided to move one spot down on the list of "things that go bump in the night," and employ vampires in their side-scrolling action game, Fangz [$2.99 / $2.99]. It's this one little twist on the genre that gives Fangz just enough legs to save it from being a carbon copy of the Zombieville USA series.

Fangz definitely owes much to the excellent Zombieville USA 2 [$0.99]. Fans of the Zombieville series will feel instantly at home in this hack 'n' slash gorefest. In Fangz you take control of an Everyman named Frank as he cuts a bloody path through undead hordes to rescue his family. Toting a shotgun and a few extra pounds, and clad in business casual attire, Frank calls to mind Michael Douglas' character in the cynically comedic 1993 drama, "Falling Down."

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From the get-go, it's clear this game doesn't take itself seriously and has fun with the source material. Fangz has its moments, a personal favorite being the vampire who bears a suspicious resemblance to Dick Cheney, but on the whole the game's humor is pretty uneven. I'll also note that the game has a depiction of African Americans that is sure to raise some eyebrows: blinged out and flashing gang signs, they lurch toward you looking like slack-jawed simians. I can't help but feel that something was lost in translation (both the designers are European), but this sort of caricature of urban blacks is pretty unacceptable.

The game includes a ten level Campaign Mode as well as an endless Survival Mode played on the same maps. As he progresses, Frank will earn experience and money which is shared between the two modes. Experience points improve stats, which in turn grant access to more powerful weapons which are purchased with money. It's nothing we haven't seen before. One nice thing is that the game omits IAP entirely when they could've easily tried to squeeze a buck out of you to unlock weapons quicker.

mzl.iyaqohee.320x480-75So how does the game itself stack up against Zombieville USA 2 and similar side-scrolling gore-fests? Pretty well, actually. Fangz is a strong contender in the graphics department. Artist Alex Gallego is to be commended on bringing us a cohesive, colorful game, positively brimming with personality. Level design is another win for Fangz, with varied layouts and objectives keeping things fresh. Enemy variety in Fangz is definitely a cut above its predecessor: you'll be coming up against new bosses and baddies right up until the end of the campaign.

In a number of other areas, the Zombieville series definitely has the edge. My biggest frustration with Fangz is how its levels are structured. Most are broken into three stages, with the last being a difficult boss fight. Frank's health and ammo persist between stages, so if you go into the boss fight low on health and ammo, you're screwed. You also can't change or upgrade your weapons between levels. The game forces you to rely on being lucky enough to find sufficient health and ammo drops within each stage or you'll end up having to restart the entire level.

Fangz also doesn't save your progress within a level, hurting it's pick-up-and-playability. Leveling is a bit slow and money is hard to come by, robbing Fangz of that "just one more unlock" feeling that made Zombieville USA 2 an obsession for so many. Finally, for a game that cribs so much from the Zombieville series, it's disappointing that there are no unlockable characters or costumes, and that Zombieville USA's great perk system is nowhere to be found. Both games will have you coming back for more unlocks and upgrades, but Fangz simply won't have you coming back as long.

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I feel compelled to make a note regarding the above complaints. The game's designer, Alexandre Ribeiro, is very active in the Fangz thread on our forums and has actually incorporated player feedback into the game. At release, Fangz simply wasn't very good: it had brutally short time limits, jumping caused Frank to lose health, and the game's difficulty curve was more like a cliff. A recent patch removed the timer, introduced a stamina bar for jumping, and added in multiple difficulty levels. The patch even added a new monster and skills to boot. This kind of responsive, pragmatic developer support is something we in the iOS community should promote and encourage.

So, should you bite? If you're a big fan of hack 'n' slash side-scrollers, this game is a no-brainer. If you like supporting premium titles that eschew IAP, or games with responsive developers who actually listen to their players, you'll want to grab Fangz. Once you sink your teeth into it you're in for a fun ride, which by the end will have you wondering why we haven't been blasting away bloodsuckers for years. Forget "Braaains. . ." let's hear it for "Blooood!"

TouchArcade Rating

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  • eventide

    Cool. I was a beta tester on this. Even before a few issues it was still a good game.

    • Spencerbroseph

      How do you beta test games?

  • Smartbomb

    At release, it simply was good. It's even better now.

    At least this wasn't handled by the reviewer of Poker Night 2...

  • http://twitter.com/GameWhizzes Game Whiz

    Thanks for the review! All I can say is that I agree with you :)

    Multiple characters are harder to do in Fangz, due to the immense number of animations that the main character has, and due to the fact that I couldn't just replace the textures, like in Zombieville.

    But I'm learning... I still have a couple of updates left for Fangz and my next games will surely incorporate these valuable lessons.

    Cheers,
    Alex

  • garret44

    Haven't played it much but it's good to see that you acknowledged the possible stereotype. Hopefully the developer didn't have a racial intent.

    Good review Alec!

    • Robert Cummings

      Of course not. The reviewer is the first one to point it out. Funny how pointing things out makes an issue where there wasn't one before.

  • http://twitter.com/nuno2k nuno lourenco

    Amazing graphics.espero que tenham sorte

  • http://twitter.com/GameWhizzes Game Whiz

    @garret44 No, of course we had no racial intent. This is merely an artistic view of society. After we got some comments regarding the rappers in the game, we actually thought about changing one of them to white, but that would surely open up yet another discussion, so we kept it as is.

  • D. Bida

    Hey Game Whizzes, no need to defend yourself on the stupid racial comments. The reviewer mentions immediately that the game doesn't take itself too seriously but then gets defensive about the racial stereotype. If the Dev was a few black guys I don't think they'd be commenting about how the white characters are stereotypical white people. Society tends to take itself too seriously sometimes. Personally I love the game. Deserves a 4-4.5 star rating but that's all subjective

    • kioshi

      I guess this 'we see racism everywhere' is an American thing.

      • D. Bida

        Stereotypes are funny cause they're true. Doesn't matter what race it pertains to. Again, as most people have already pointed out, there never seemed to be an issue until the reviewer TRIED to make it an issue. I don't see him complaining because all the white people in the game are fat or ugly or money grubbing.
        If the majority of people felt the way this reviewer felt (overly sensitive) than Family Guy wouldn't be such a hit television show. We here in the States have learned to laugh at ourselves and our stereotypes

      • kioshi

        Yup his attempt to make this a big deal was lame. I know Family Guy is a big hit in the States, and it only makes his writing worse - he tries to justify the fact that the game has 'unacceptable characterization' by saying 'maybe its because the dev us European' like all Americans wold get mad at this (I'm Brazilian but I do have quite a few American friends, they don't give a damn).

      • handhoney

        Where are you from in Brazil? My girlfriend lives in João Pessoa and just recently moved from São Paulo. I'm picking up some Portugués and am fascinated with the culture.

    • Robert Cummings

      Exactly, there was no problem before until the reviewer made it a problem.

  • 7lilwhitewolf7

    !!!!!!!

  • Robert Cummings

    "but this sort of caricature of urban blacks is pretty unacceptable"

    Are you for real? A case of PC gone too far with this reviewer, I suspect. Plenty of black guys round these parts love that aspect of this very game. Let me guess... you're white and assuming you know what's best for black people right? Let me give you a hint: leave complaining about things to the people who have the right to complain, namely black folks themselves. Nobody is going to thank you for being an over-protective nanny.

    • Zhang Doe

      Agreed. Reviewer spewing unnecessary politically correct crap. Let me guess, reviewer is white and feels the need defend the poor minorities. I'm a minority and I wish people like this would just mind their own business.

      Game is excellent. Even with the update I find some of the boss fights very hard. Challenging but never cheap. Recommended!

      • Bluejunco

        White people are the minority today in America so stop whining.

    • dariusjr98

      Chill out. I'm black, FYI, and while I don't find the "gangstas" or whatever the heck they are in this game racist, I don't really see that fact that the reviewer pointed it out as a big deal. Just move along, Mr. Developer.

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      It was something that was brought up by several people in the forums when the game first came out, so no, it's not just him. Taste is a very subjective thing and what some people might find offensive other people don't at all. As a person whose job it is to, you know, critique games, it's perfectly valid to bring up how the imagery in said game made you feel. It doesn't mean you have to feel the same way or agree with it.

      Your overly-hostile responses are much more disconcerting to me, personally.

      • Robert Cummings

        Yes but its obviously not intended to be racist and I think, living in Britain, there is a lot more tolerance for ignoring would could ignite, aka common sense. Black guys with a bias for music are no more racist than depicting a chinese fellow doing kung fu, it's completely unacceptable to create racism where its not intended.

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        Dude, no. You scolded a reviewer for having an opinion. There is just no way that is acceptable to me.

      • Robert Cummings

        Fair enough. I apologise to Alec. I shouldn't have scolded him. Sorry Alec. However I still believe that this game isn't racist.

      • Zhang Doe

        No, he scolded the reviewer for creating controversy instead of focusing on the game. He's making something of nothing. Why not complain about the lawyers all being white and carrying calculators? Because it is a game and the developer is having fun with the stereotypes! If you take out the race comment, the rest of the review is actually quite well done.

        It sounds like the reviewer is dinging the game for being challenging, but that's what the developer asset out to do. I have not have major problems restarting a level, and they're really not that long. I would give it a solid four stars. Good difficulty level and never cheap.

    • Bluejunco

      Black folks have the right to complain?!. Get of your horse.
      There are millions of kids and women that are sold into human trafficking daily. All races.
      So go change your diaper and stop saying such stupid things.

  • m44

    How did Zombieville 2 get a 5 star review then? Fangz is better in every way (graphics, sound, gameplay, etc.)

    Maybe the reviewer should have played the game on the easiest setting?

    Honestly guys, this review is isn't right. This game is much better than Zombieville 2, and yet rated much lower?

    • dariusjr98

      Keep in mind that reviews are still other people's opinions. 3.5 isn't a bad score.

      • Zhang Doe

        Questioning the rating is valid given the reviewer spent so much time comparing it to Zombieville 2. Maybe Zombieville 2 warranted a 5 back them but the general bar has been raised since? That would make sense to me. Have played a number of highly rated older games recently, and my general feeling is that they pale in comparison to today's best games.

  • commandergreen

    I bet you if he didnt have any non-white enemies you would have complained about that. You cant win with the PC crowd

  • Bluejunco

    I have a problem with games that I must purchase twice. Why not make it universal?

    As for now I don't buy games that aren't universal.

    Hope I'm not missing a great game.

Fangz Reviewed by Alec Perring on . Rating: 3.5