A Brief History of Zombie Games

From shamblers to necromorphs, deadly jokes are free

August 27, 2012
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Zombies are the superstars of modern gaming (ahead of cybernetically-enhanced megasharks, expected around late 2015), but it’s been a long, groaning stagger to the top of the heap. Top secret US military bio-weapons programs may or may not have been involved.

Zombie Zombie (1984)

Quicksilva’s Zombie Zombie for the ZX Spectrum was actually the sequel to Ant Attack, released the previous year, although apart from the same isometric perspective, there’s no significant connection between the two games. The point of Zombie Zombie is basically to rid a city of its unwelcome undead, but instead of using practical things like chainsaws and machetes and tanks to get the job done, the player was equipped with only an air-gun. Not an “air-gun” air-gun, mind you, but a gun that shoots… air.

The player also had access to a helicopter, but I’m guessing the “air force” pun was quite unintended.

 The Evil Dead (1984)

Based on the cult classic 1981 film of the same name, The Evil Dead had players securing and defending a cabin from waves of monsters and reanimated limbs, using a variety of weapons, including shovels and shotguns. That should totally be a proper game name, shouldn’t it? Shovels & Shotguns.

Unlike the movie, however, there weren’t any sexual predator trees.

Wolfenstein 3D (1992)

Dr Schabbs’ zombie Nazis had machine guns grafted onto their chests, because if there’s one thing better than a zombie Nazi, it’s a dead zombie Nazi. And if there’s one thing better than a dead zombie Nazi, it’s a zombie Nazi with a machine gun grafted to its chest. It’s a self-improving cycle.

Years later, zombies and Nazis would collaborate again on Call of Duty: Black Ops, but without the machine gun grafts. It wasn’t the same.

Alone in the Dark (1992)

The last place you’d want to be in the middle of a zombie outbreak is alone, in the dark, so that’s why private investigator Edward Carnby shuts himself up in a creepy, abandoned Louisiana mansion with a sinister reputation instead.

“Maybe I didn’t think this through properly.”

Zombies Ate My Neighbours (1993)

Local teens Zeke and Julie versus pretty much everything that ever lurched, crawled, or slithered out of a 1950’s B-movie. With water pistols. They should’ve called up the protagonist from Zombie Zombie – with the powers of water and air combined, they could’ve made a proper tornado.

BATH TIME, BOZOS.

Resident Evil (1996)

Capcom’s iconic zombie-‘em-up featured all the guns, guts, and gore you’d expect to find in a mature-rated game, but the bits in the original intro that showed protagonist Chris Redfield smoking a cigarette were removed by American and Europeans censors. Blowing everything to bloody chunks good, smoking bad.

Warning: Smoking may cause disorientation, necrosis, and a hunger for human flesh.

House of the Dead The Typing of the Dead (1999)

Okay, everybody knows House of the Dead, but did you know there was a sequel where you killed zombies by typing words on the screen?

I bet that air gun and water pistol don’t seem so lame now.

Dead Rising (2006)

Typing is one way to kill a zombie, but so’s a lawnmower. And a dumbbell. And an umbrella. And a shower head. Even a sausage rack. In fact, there’s nothing Frank West won’t try killing a zombie with, except maybe his camera.

Frank West would probably even use an air gun or water pistol if it came to that. And he’d make it look cool.

Left 4 Dead (2008)

Valve’s instantly popular co-op zombie shooter introduced several new types of zombies, prominently including the fast zombie. Nobody had ever thought of that before, but it seems so obvious now, doesn’t it? Obvious in an obviously terrifying kind of way.

Fast, huge, and on fire. It’s the zombie apocalypse trifecta.

Dead Space (2008)

“Okay, so fast zombies are in now. What can we do to improve on that?” mused Hypothetical Dead Space Designer. “I know, let’s tear off most of their faces, rip out their intestines, glue on some bonus appendages, put them in zero-G space, and switch off all the lights.”

Yeah, that works.

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Tags: alone in the dark, dead rising, Dead Space, headline, left 4 dead, resident evil, the evil dead, the typing of the dead, Wolfenstein 3D, zombie zombie, Zombies, zombies ate my neighbours

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