As one of the greatest events of the year is Halloween. So with out further delay I present the game Zombie.
Zombie (n): the reanimated dead, bent on destroying and consuming the living. The lore is thought to originate from the Vodou belief but according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the etymology is from the Haitian Creole zonbi, of Bantu origin.
Since 1968 when George Romero came out with his undead master piece Night of the Living Dead the zombie has been a part of lore and popular culture so deep you can find aspects of it just about everywhere, and video games are no exception. Some of the greatest games of our time (which is the only time for most of us) have involved Zombies in one form or another. This Halloween I want to take a look at some of the cherished undead-themed (or involved) masterpieces. They run deeper than most realized.
The first game I think of when "Gaming and Zombie is put together is Resident Evil.
I can actually remember dropping my controller in fight the first time those stupid dogs... jumped through the stupid window... and THEN the loading screen made me wait for it. Zombie dodging became a real skill in gaming and for the first time I could remember I noticed that there was no music playing but dreaded foot steps falling instead. It was classic, so classic Nintendo made it again, the same thing again.
Lest us not forget classics like Ghosts-n-Goblins.
This classic game has been remade three times since it was released on the Commodore 64 in 1988. In the same year Ghouls 'n Ghosts released for the arcades, Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts for the SNES in 1991, and Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins for the PSP in 2006 which I still have captured from Milksama successfully.
Most notable of the spin offs of this legendary title is Maximo: Ghosts to Glory.
Half Life and Half Life 2 (and all of the following episodes) brought forth the Head Crab Zombie.
When hundreds of zombie archetypes come together Valve asked the question: "Why can't we fill the world with head eating, other dimensional beings that just want the worlds worst piggy back ride?". And it was made so. While I liked half life 1 the sequal was a triumph of fantastic game play and story. I have played through it several times and I will insist that my children do as well.
The game Zombie Nation made by Nintendo in 1990, actually had "Zombie" right in the title.
The plot of the game was that a mysterious meteor called 'Darc Seed' crashes to Earth and slowly turns the US into zombies. Kill or be killed on a basic level. "Sandbox" games might have been inspired by this and early games like it.
There is simply no way I could do an article about zombies with out mentioning Doom by ID in 1993.
While the game centers around daemons you fight many a zombie and zombie marine in this classic that has spawned several sequels all of grand flavor and awesome...tude? The movie felt lack luster to me but we won't get into that. Upon playing the latest Doom... at night... with the lights off... my roommate thought this would be a good time to jump me from behind. He found out that he did not pre-plan on a reflex weapon attack in the form of a wireless key board over the head to the face. It was a pretty freaky game. To the people that attached the flash light to the shotgun, you were doing it wrong (no matter how much sense that makes).
CarnEvil is a rail shooter arcade style game from Midway released on Halloween day in 1998 and is not to be confused with rail shooter The House of the Dead from Wow Entertainment in 1996.
CarnEvil was a bit too fruity and strange to be more than extremely creepy. Clowns will do that to you. Zombies were everywhere in this one and many a highway rest stop had me playing it.
House of the dead by comparison was pretty scary and felt more like a jerking amusement park ride from hell. Several squeals have spawned from this title and one of the worst movies known to date. The ditch that video game based movies was dug more than a mile deeper with that installment (see also Street Fighter and any Mortal Kombat after the first movie).
Need I go on?.... Yes, yes I must.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem by Silicon Knights for the Game Cube was published in 2002.
This physiological thriller/horror was said to be inspired by the works of H. P. Lovecraft (the inventor of such cute and fuzzy things such as the Cthulhu Mythos, and the Necronomicon). This game was a massive divergence in horror style gaming and has yet, arguably, to be cloned or duplicated. The game contained four different kind of zombies, all relating to the occult. Instead of a life bar enemies would rip at your sanity and effects of that could include both in game and forth wall demolishing effects. When you have been struck a few times and blood starts running down the walls, or you walk into the next room on the ceiling instead, or worst of all when you get the fake out "system failure" message from your Game Cube and then suddenly you snap back to one of the twelve characters you play through different time periods screaming "This isn't happening!". Amazing game.
Carmageddon 2 by Stainless Games created in 1992.
This is not a zombie game but is worth mentioning because one of the levels takes place in a zombie run city. The game series was inspired by the movie Death Race 2000 that was a cult favorite from the 70s.
Halo 1, 2, and 3 by Bungie from the year 1999 and on.
Once again not a zombie game by title or theme but I argue that a flood zombie is right in line with everything we have seen here thus far. No more far removed than the Head Crab Zombie these zombie jerks could shoot back at you having once resembled space marines (no relation to the Doom Daemon Marine Zombie... are you getting all of this?). If it shuffles, if it groans, and if it turns you into something else with a hug and/or a nibble on the neck it's a zombie.
The Castlevania series has too many titles to name and date.
While the game plot is based around the feud of a human family with the vampire Dracula. The Belmonts should be called a zombie/ghoul killing family for all of the vampires they actually kill.
Stubbs the Zombie was created by Wideload Games in 2005.
The first game I am aware of that allowed you to actually BE the zombie. The studio was headed by Alex Seropian whom co-founded Bungie. The story has an Earth Worm Jim and Destroy all Humans feel to it so to explain it would make this long article seem a snippet. In the short term you rise from your grave a Zombie, attack the city of Punchbowl, Pennsylvania at its opening ceremony in 1959, and create your own army of undead. The use of the word "Brains" exceeds all expectations, even for a zombie game.
Infected was created by Planet Moon Studios in 2005 for the PSP.
In this zombie game you are a cop in New York City, 3 weeks before Christmas. A zombie causing infection gets out and you have the cure in your blood. You need to kill the zombies and try to find someone that can make the cure for everyone. It reeks of I Am Legend but, and trust me on this, the game is way better.
Zombies ate my Neighbors came out on the Sega Genisis in 1993 created by LucasArts.
This was a run-and-gun like action game that described its self as a horror game but to put it in perspective it was a b-movie horror game. That isn't to say it wasn't fun as it really was. It just felt like someone time traveled from the 50s to the 90s to make a zombie game (which was the idea). I suspect the time travelers are currently ahead of us now writing a game about how the Big Bopper was a vampire lord for the PS9.
Finally I come to the conclusion. There are countless more games that have a zombie theme, zombie characters, or at least enough undead to make you wonder where the zombies are. I could go on to name them all but I won't. Instead I shall crown the greatest Zombie game of all time:
Created by Capcom Production Studio 1 and released on August 8, 2006
With out question the greatest Zombie game made to date. The game took place in a insanely huge shopping mall filled to the brim with limitless zombies. You play a photojournalist just stupid enough to air lift himself to the mall and look around. With the sandbox fun of Grand Theft Auto you could use almost anything as a weapon against the lumbering armies. Guns, skate boards, trees, augers (that one is very funny), golf carts, soccer balls, lead pipe, pale on the head then wack it with a lead pipe, ketchup bottle in the mouth, grease on the floor, fire, fire extinguishers, lawn mowers, shopping carts, other zombies, 30mm guns mounted on the back of a jeep, the same run you ripped off and lumber around with, guitars, rocks, TVs, umbrellas, sledgehammers, cinder blocks, and that isn't even close to half of it....
More so you are rewarded for taking pictures on the fly with categorizes from horrific to hilarious. This is a game I get out over and over again. Heck some people just come over to my place just to watch me play. It's that fun.
Zombies are a massive portion of the modern game and will continue to be one of the most used and often over looked staple of story telling we have. I greatly enjoyed writing this so I hope you enjoyed reading it.
Have a grand Halloween!
Seabass.... the zombie.