Zombie Football Carnage was developed by Milkstone Studios S.L. and released on February 18, 2011 and costs 80 Microsoft Points.  A copy was provided by the developer for review purposes.

The only thing that Zombie Football Carnage has in common with football is a projectile pigskin and cumbersome football gear, so we were surprised to see football in the title.  But does the game live up to the sport that grabs the attention of many Americans, or does it fumble trying to reach the goal line?

Here’s what we liked:

Gorgeous art style – Fans of games like Paper Mario will appreciate this game’s artistic style.  All of the characters in the game, including the protagonist and the enemies, are paper cutouts set on mini football field stages that are highly detailed.  Everything else about the game has high production values–from the colorful menu system to the vibrant animations.  Put simply, this is one of the best looking games on XBLIG.

Awards – One thing that gamers dislike about the XBLIG service is a lack of achievements.  This is simply the case because XNA games are peer-reviewed and don’t go through the same Microsoft certification as XBLA games do, but some developers have created their own internal achievement system to please fans who have grown used to the rewarding system on Xbox 360.  Zombie Football Carnage has its own achievement system that even pops up similarly with a recognizable sound.  In addition, an alert system pops up reminding the player how close they are to getting an achievement.  It works.  It’s fun.  And we’re happy it’s included.

Tough, but fair – This is a challenging game.  It plays identical to a game like Geometry Wars in that endless waves of enemies come after you in round-based gameplay.  The higher the round, the harder it gets.  Enemies drop cash that can be used to purchase upgrades that entice the gamer to come back for more.  Players will be tossing footballs at enemies and getting swarmed by a variety of enemy types that keep the game fresh for a long time.

Catchy soundtrack – The developer put a lot of time into the soundtrack, with the main game containing heavy metal riffs and the menu system having a catchy electronica theme.  You’ll almost forget you’re playing an XBLIG game and not one featured on XBLA.

Here’s what we didn’t like:

No twin-stick – The game is played like a twin-stick shooter without the use of the second analog stick.  One stick is used to move the character around, and the other is mute.  Players use the X button to initiate an attack, and the game finds the nearest target.  It doesn’t make much sense to have the player rapidly press the X button when a simple twin-stick setup would have made the game even better. 

No Co-op – This is the type of game that needs local co-op, which it lacks.  Although the game can get chaotic and players may become overwhelmed with all of the enemies on screen, having a buddy help out would just feel right. 

Despite the absence of co-op and the use of the second analog stick, gamers who enjoy competing for high scores will love this game.  This is one of the best games on XBLIG.

Score: Buy it