Monster Mania: The 16 bit Terrors of Zombies Ate My Neighbors

Monster Mania is a weekly column celebrating the unique and varied monster designs in horror gaming.

 Few games were as formative in establishing my lifelong love of horror, such as LucasArts’ undead run and gunner Zombies Ate My Neighbors. Ridding a nondescript suburban neighborhood of the horrors unleashed by a mad scientist was a refreshing change of pace from the sci-fi shooters and outlandish adventure platformers of my adolescents. Helping to establish the game’s singular tone, Zombies Ate My Neighbors’ art style reflected the developer’s evident love of B-horror movies and a more than prevalent sense of humor that is the through line of the game’s identity. Whether it was rescuing cheerleaders, lobbing soda grenades at the undead, or fighting a 40 ft tall baby, Zombies Ate My Neighbors has a look, humor, and tone all its own. So for this week’s Monster Mania, I am highlighting five monster designs that still stand out all these years later.


Given the game’s title, LucasArts couldn’t afford to drop the ball when designing their titular monster. Ol’ reliable if there ever was one, as this pixilated undead design has always stood out to me from the hordes of other zombie designs in games. An estimate of just how damn good SNES-era artwork was, as the zombie evokes not only the mannerisms of typical zombies but is also reflective of the game’s penchant for humor. A small detail, such as the zombie’s tongue hanging out of its mouth, almost tauntingly so, always reminds me of Dan O’Bannon’s Return of the Walking Dead; A merging of humor with great practical/art design is amongst the most challenging genre blends, and Zombies Ate My Neighbors nails it effortlessly.

Stanley Decker, the Chainsaw Maniac

Jason Voorhees, by way of Leatherface, Stanley Decker, the Chainsaw Maniac, is not a foe to be taken lightly. As if the prospect of a chainsaw-wielding maniac chasing you wasn’t nerve-fraying enough, Stanley hasn’t taken a day off from the gym in roughly 20 years (and he only trains arms!). As with most great monster designs, Stanley not only has a memorable look, but his combat mechanics and sound design give him that extra-biting edge of personality. Zeke and Julie will momentarily spin like a top when hit by his chainsaw, stunning them and leaving them susceptible to other attacks. If that wasn’t bad enough, the constant revving of Stanley’s saw and his ability to make his own path through hedgerows make this one enemy players would do best to avoid. 


No one likes a copycat, but that doesn’t stop this Invasion of the Body Snatchers parody from being one of the game’s most personal pests. Spawning from various pods scattered around the neighborhood, doppelgängers assume the identity of whichever suburbanite the player has selected. While Zeke and Julie aren’t exactly contending with the reality of killing something that looks exactly like them, the real challenge of this enemy is their numbers. While not especially difficult to kill, time and time again, I lost track of my character in a horde of doppelgängers that surrounded them. 

Tommy the Evil Doll

One personal tidbit about me; I used to hate dolls. A singularly defining trait, I know. The game’s Chucky parody, Tommy the Evil Doll, threw me for a loop as a kid terrified of Chucky. The notion of the pint-sized slasher grabbing my dangling arm or leg over the edge of the bed was almost too much to contend with some nights. So to play a game where there wasn’t one or two, but tens of killer dolls hunting me made some Zombies Ate My Neighbors levels terrifying beyond the scope of its E rating. Being pursued by lighting-fast dolls whose sinister cackle pierces the game’s arcade soundtrack still sends shivers down my spine, making for the game’s one enemy that lacked the other’s humor tinge.

Gillman of the Blue Lagoon (a.k.a. Brook Shards) 

The Creature from the Black Lagoon is my favorite of the Universal Monster movies, so the Gillman of the Blue Lagoon parody is a personal favorite. These amphibian hunters looked cool as hell and presented a threat that could traverse multiple environments. Gillman’s would lurk just beneath the water’s surface, leaping once the player got within range, only to pursue them once on the surface. One of the tougher and more aggressive monsters that always presented a welcomed challenge.

Titanic Toddler

To discuss Zombies Ate My Neighbor’s in any capacity and NOT mention the 40ft toddler just isn’t feasible. This boss fight was possibly Dr. Tongue’s most monstrous creation, pushing the player to their wit’s end. While most monster encounters are manageable, almost nothing in the player’s arsenal can quickly prevent them from being smooshed by da baby. Between dodging the toddler’s milk bottle projectiles and those massive feet, the player must reach survivors before the toddler tramples them, sending them to the afterlife. Titanic Toddler remains the game’s most bombastic example of its B horror movie sensibilities blended with its absurdist humor.

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