Zynga takes a swipe at Fruit Ninja’s hack and slash gameplay with Zombie Swipeout

Zynga’s newest mobile game is Zombie Swipeout, an undead-themed arcade title that builds on the swipe and slash mechanic pioneered by Halfbrick’s hit game Fruit Ninja.

Developed by the German arm of Zynga Mobile, the game is a sequel of sorts to ZombieSmash!, the GameDoctors developed tower defense game that required users to flick, drag and smash advancing hordes of zombie using touch controls. Zombie Swipeout was in the early stages of development when GameDoctors was acquired by Zynga in October 2011, and is the first game from the team to be released under the Zynga moniker.

Zombie Swipeout follows the further adventures of Joey, the hero of ZombieSmash!. As with Fruit Ninja, players swipe their fingers across their devices screen, with the goal of swiping through some objects while avoiding others. In Zombie Swipeout the goal is to cut up zombies while avoiding Joey. If a player hits Joey, they can choose to use a consumable med-pack item on him to keep playing or leave him to die, ending their current game. Players also collect a soft currency called coins, which can be used to purchase new weapons, some of which give competitive bonuses or allow players to earn score multipliers more quickly.

While the gameplay is obviously similar to Halfbrick’s series of Fruit Ninja titles, Zynga adds some strategic and competitive elements to Zombie Swipeout to set it apart from other games in the genre. Here are the key differences:

  • Social Features: Zombie Swipeout is heavily geared towards competitive play. Players can log in through Facebook Connect to compete with their friends, or trade ZombieSmash usernames directly in order to add more people to their leaderboards. Players compete in weekly tournaments, and Zombie Swipeout keeps a record of how many first, second and third place finishes a player has managed to amass. Players can also send each other gifts of soft currency in order to help each other progress through the game. By comparison, Fruit Ninja has leaderboards and achievements implemented through Game Center and OpenFeint, but players cannot send gifts to each other.
  • Leveling up: Unlike Fruit Ninja, players in Zombie Swipeout also level up as they play. Leveling up grants players to additional power-ups that make it easier to cut up zombies such as liquid nitrogen and grenades.
  • Energy and weapons: Players in Zombie Smash must balance the bonuses awarded by more advanced weapons against their energy consumption. A higher level weapon will give better score bonuses but it will also take more of a player’s energy to use it. While players can unlock additional weapons and backgrounds in Fruit Ninja through in-game achievements, they are only cosmetic and don’t affect gameplay.
  • Monetization: While the full version of Fruit Ninja is a $0.99 paid title on iOS, Zombie Swipeout is free-to-play. The game monetizes through the purchase of its soft currency, coins (used to buy better weapons, Med Packs and restore energy) and gems, the hard currency used to buy premium weapons. Like Zynga’s other games players can also purchase a $0.99 premium version of Zombie Swipeout that does not show ads.

Despite Zombie Swipeout’s gory theme and visuals, GameDoctors co-founder and now Director at Zynga Mobile Matthias Hoechsmann tell us us the game was designed to appeal to a broad, casual audience. As such, the blood in the game can be red, green or turned off altogether.

Zombie Swipeout is out today in the Canadian iTunes App Store and will be rolling out to other countries soon. Hoechsmann tells us as with ZombieSmash! there are plans to bring Zombie Swipeout to Android eventually, but there is no set timeline for the game’s Android release.