NOTE: Below you’ll find my original review for the game on the Vita, originally published on Vita Player, our sister site dedicated to PS Vita. The game is now available on the Switch, and remains virtually unchanged except for the addition of single joy-con support, which is always a plus. We’re familiar with the game engine so we do not foresee any issues with the game running on Switch, which at any rate is more powerful than the Vita. Therefore, we feel like we can share our thoughts about the game now that it’s available on the Switch, and let you know what you can expect from the Switch version as well.
I love what COWCAT and Diabolical Mind have going on. I really liked Xenon Valkyrie+ on Vita (which has just seen a physical release via Limited Run Games), and I’m pleased to say that, apart from a few repetition issues, Riddled Corpses EX is just as fun.
There’s not really that much of a story going on, and that’s something that does not seem to preoccupy Diabolical Mind. It’s a basic zombie apocalypse, save others type of affair that hankers back to a simpler era in gaming. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, this minimalist, retro theme is something that permeates the whole game (much as it did with Xenon Valkyrie+).
Another thing this particular Diabolical Mind release and its older sibling have in common is killer gameplay. Yes, it’s another 8-bit inspired rogue-like game, but instead of being a platformer, it’s a twin-stick shooter. Where you kill zombies. Now, I know it sounds drab, and like I said, it may not be for everyone, but they have done such an amazing job at making the game feel fun, that you forget about its lack of originality and simply enjoy what is, undeniably, a very well executed game.
You start with a single character choice at the lowest possible level (level 1), and advance through waves and waves of zombies, collecting gold, and using said gold to upgrade your character and unlock other characters as you play along.
While the formula is great, it does mean that you’ll thread the same scenarios quite a few times. This does mean that you’ll get better at using environmental hazards strategically, but it also means that it gets a bit stale. Thankfully, the leveling up system is balanced well enough that once you’re on the brink of giving up due to playing the same part once again, you finally beat a stage and move onto the next (selectable) stage.
Another hallmark of Diabolical Mind games is the soundtrack, and Riddled Corpses EX is no exception: the killer chiptunes will make for deadly companions on your quest to kill zombies, zombie dogs, zombie this and zombie that. Again, the fact that you’ll repeat stages quite a few times until you win means you’ll almost reach the point of wanting to mute the track you’ve heard 10 or 20 times before. But, alas, almost… and not quite. Add to this the fact that you can switch between a chiptunes soundtrack and a more modern electronic one, and you’ve got quite a lot of choice in the tunes department.
There’s plenty of content and replayability here also, with an Arcade mode (where it’s point-based and you don’t collect gold) and a Survival mode (in which you must last for as long as possible). Sadly, the Story, Arcade and Survival modes all share the same stages, music and characters, so while there seems to be a lot of content here (and there kind of is), it’s somewhat limited by the fact that you’ll do basically the same thing with the same characters in the same places, only with slightly different objectives.
Having said that, I think this is another little gem of a game. In the context under which it’s released, I think it’s nothing short of great: it’s an affordable rogue-like twin-stick shooter, with great 8-bit presentation and a decent amount of content. Sure, it does get somewhat repetitive sometimes, but if you’re a fan of the genre, you’ll get a hell of a lot of bang for your buck here. Had this been released on the Genesis back in the day, we might not have to play Sonic games on a Nintendo console.