one of the 13 perfectly dominating obsessions that i have in life continues to be “anything related to zombies, unless it’s the movie House of the Dead or something,” and perhaps unsurprisingly, this means it’s the kind of thing i might happen to fall back on as something of subject matter for a listicle… if, you know, i needed something on the fly to serve as the subject for a last-minute update. not that this kind of poor-planning-meets-shoddy work kind of thing could possibly happen around here at house of hate, where our work is funded by the five richest kings of Europe and only the highest level of professionals are hired to write-
i admit that i feel compelled to write lead-ins and, to a lesser extent, make them self-deprecating. here we go.
janklow’s 13 favorite games that involve zombies in a notable capacity
i guarantee 100% of my audience wonders what this image could possibly have to do with zombie games. it’s not clear?
13. every role-playing game that involves zombies in a minor way
this is admittedly a bit of a generalization, but here’s the meat of it: there are a lot of RPGs out there that aren’t about zombies and that cover a lot of ground beyond them, but that still frequently and notably feature them; i’m specifically looking at anything D&D-based or games in the vein of all that Call of Cthulhu nonsense. you know what i’m talking about: you might be playing an elf wizard and busy with some quest to save (fantasy world region or city) from (nefarious evil plot), but there will inevitably be zombies around at some point. you can also consider this entry a note that this won’t strictly be about video games, if you like.
12. Zombie Nation
short story: i remember picking up this game for the NES simply because of the title (you can probably imagine why) and being INCREDIBLY disappointed in it. now, of course, you’re thinking this: he put a game that was incredibly disappointing on his list of favorite games that involve zombies? well, let me borrow this synopsis:
“Zombie Nation, or Samurai Zombie Nation as the in-game title screen calls it, is a 1990 NES action game developed by KAZe … This game is known for its strange juxtaposition of zombies and samurai… The player can destroy structures and enemies by shooting rapid-fire eyeballs and vomit at them. Enemies include zombie snipers, zeppelins, and lava monsters. The player can upgrade his/her firepower by rescuing zombie hostages that leap out of structures when destroyed.
The plot of Zombie Nation takes place in 1999, when a meteor known as “Darc Seed” crashes in the Nevada desert. Darc Seed then shoots magnetic rays and turns the people of the United States into zombies. Darc Seed also brings the Statue of Liberty to life to follow its commands. The magnetic rays also allows Darc Seed to control many deadly weapons, including the most powerful weapon of all – the legendary samurai sword Shura. The head of the samurai, Namakubi hears of Shura falling into Darc Seed’s clutches. He then heads to the United States to destroy Darc Seed, free the American people from the looming zombification, and reclaim the samurai sword Shura.”
yeah. it’s so beyond insane. unfortunately, the game, in my opinion, sucks. but it’s SUCH a great talking point on the internet!
11. the Resident Evil series as a general concept
basically, there are a ton of Resident Evil games for various video game consoles, as well as all the related Resident Evil material out there (comics and those terrible, terrible movies, for example). they’re generally overhead-view survival horror games, and there are certainly more than one of them. so why i have boiled them down to one item on this list? well…
01. i never really played these games because i never liked them. in fact, you might even say that i hate them and refuse to play them. so i’m not sure they belong on this list. however…
02. the Irishman played/plays them and enjoys them and will most assuredly defend them (at least to some extent). i’m tempted to explain this away as a manifestation of his belief that Milla Jovovich is an intensely desirably sex object, but i think he enjoyed the games prior the movies ever existing. and more to the point…
03. he could probably make an argument that i need to ACKNOWLEDGE these games. so there you go. but fuck if i will ever play them.
i’m not arguing that the game doesn’t lose some of its impact when the jump-scares are no longer a surprise on your second play-through. i’m just saying it has zombies
10. the DOOM series
the DOOM series has been a lot of things – a groundbreaking first-person shooter, a reference in the Columbine massacre case, a mild disappointment by the time DOOM 3 rolled around – but if there’s anything consistent about it, it can be summed up with: “you’ll be shooting the hell out of things that are visually impressive for the time, and many, many of these things will be zombies. but you’ll probably forget how crammed with zombies these games are because the flashier demons will overshadow them. and then, one day, you’ll make a list about your favorite zombie games and you’ll shoehorn the DOOM series into one entry because of that oversight.” i mean, come on, they’re not ABOUT zombies, right? yeah… let’s go with that.
09. Zombie Driver
it’s an overhead-view driving game kind of like the older Grand Theft Auto games, only you plow through tons and tons of zombies on your missions. what this game basically is: proof that i will purchase and enjoy ANY $5 game that has something to do with zombies. this is literally how my brain works: i see the word “zombies” and the price tag of $5 and it starts to shock me with blinding pain until i make the purchase. no lie.
08. Return to Castle Wolfenstein
merely yet another one of the first-person shooters in the Wolfenstein series, Return to Castle Wolfenstein has a serious “prevent the raising of an army of undead Nazis” zombie theme to it. and if there’s one thing i have learned from watching Shock Waves, it’s that we have absolutely got to stop any and all zombie Nazis from existing before they can create a movie featuring themselves that is SO BORING that it makes me want to die. granted, i feel fairly certain there was a degree of zombie-related events in the prior (and less graphically enjoyable) games in the series, but i simply don’t recall the ins and outs of them so well as to discuss it. i remember shooting some kind of cyborg Hitler in the face with a machine gun, though, so those games were clearly not without their strong points.
07. All Flesh Must Be Eaten
i mentioned some other RPGs up above that involve zombies in a minor way; this would be a different kind of RPG, because All Flesh Must Be Eaten is ALL ABOUT ZOMBIES. or, to put it in a more wordy fashion, it’s a survival horror role-playing game that focuses on zombies as the main aspect of survival horror. in fact, i think it’s fair to say it spends more time thinking about the zombies than the game system itself (although that might just be my unfair impression). the only shame is that i have never really been able to find enough people tragically nerdy enough to make a real, good-sized game of AFMBE happen; at this point in my life, i doubt i ever will. deep down, i suspect this is actually a good thing, but i’ll never admit that. uh, except for right now. but never again!
i’m not saying i enjoy the game because it lets me live out my fantasy of battling against zombies with a close group of friends after said zombies have largely destroyed civilization. i’m just saying it’s fun to play
06. TimeSplitters: Future Perfect
the TimeSplitters series being a solid (if forgettable) series of games wherein you travel through time (shocking, i know) and fight various villains in a cooperative first-person shooter fashion, you might have played it and beaten it and not even remember what it has to do with zombies. well, TimeSplitters: Future Perfect is being included on the list because a) it’s got a significant number of zombies in the game (and as playable characters for the non-story-based parts of the game) and b) myself and my Irish sidekick have long argued that the TimeSplitters is the most underrated FPS series for video game consoles out there. yes, we insist in advancing these theories that no one will ever care about; we’re also fond of the consumption of beer, but i cannot imagine what the latter might have to do with the former. and speaking of games played by myself and my Irish sidekick…
05. Borderlands: the Zombie Island of Dr. Ned
Borderlands itself is another cooperative first-person shooter; it’s really more “science fiction” and/or “sort of, kind of, post-apocalyptic” than zombie-oriented. however, the first DLC for this game is all about zombies (hence the above title) and comedy, but i have to rank it well for this reason: it strikes me that it functions like a Romero-style zombie movie. see, when we first played it, the zombies didn’t seem incredibly daunting, and we’d casually get into fights with small groups of them in completely ill-advised and ridiculous ways … only to find that as we did so, we’d set ourselves up to get wrecked later in the game. this is what everyone does during every Romero zombie movie ever, even as the audience screams “why would you make such stupid choices? smoking weed and listening to your headphones? getting a blood-pressure test?” well… you get complacent, that’s all.
this crazy board game (and its numerous and even more ridiculous expansions) is tied in my mind for the best board game EVER only with the Dark Tower (a crazy board game from my youth that, if you haven’t ever heard of it, should one day be source material for an update), and is crazy fun, although it has spawned some notoriously FURIOUS fights between me and my sibling (fights i was 100% correct in, of course). it’s basically a tile-based strategy board game where you’re evading zombies; given the furious nature of the fights, teamwork is seriously not to be considered. actually, myself and another guy (who shall remain nameless) were always convinced this game could be made even better with some rules tweaking; perhaps one of those tweaks should be something to prevent my sibling from stabbing me with a steak knife because i accuse her of cheating?
02-03. Left 4 Dead/Left 4 Dead 2
both are cooperative first-person shooter video games “set during the aftermath of an apocalyptic pandemic” where “the game pits its four protagonistsâ€”dubbed the “Survivors”â€”against hordes of the infected,” so you can gather the kinds of things you’ll be doing. we might as well rank this two together because a) they’re essentially the same game (in fact, i recall this being part of the criticism of L4D2) and b) it’s hard to tell which is “better”: the one that’s more original, or the one that’s probably tweaked enough to be a better game-play experience. so let’s not even have that debate at all, okay? okay. i have to admit, though, i should really penalize this game for the amount of times it’s caused me to be playing it at 3 in the morning SCREAMING profanity at my useless, useless AI teammates. i save you fucks all the time, and you can’t come back to my aid once? terrible.
now, admittedly, this giant baby is not a zombie. it does, however, give you an idea of the kind of game we’re talking about. also, to hell with that giant baby and its bazooka-resistant body
01. Zombies Ate My Neighbors
a 3/4-overhead-view shooter wherein you battle zombies and the rest of the typical B-movie monster fare (vampires, werewolves, Leatherface, aliens) with the most ridiculous weapons possible (you start with a water gun and progress to things like bazookas and, uh, silverware) as you attempt to save civilians and, of course, cheerleaders. maybe this game only ranks this high because of my fond memories of playing it on my Genesis as a youth (it’s certainly not only oriented around zombies)… but frankly, i’m grown and old now and i’ll never have as much fun playing ANY game as i did when i was a kind. so there’s the secretly-depressing nostalgia to clinch it. still, it’s a manically fun game and if you missed out on it because you were too busy punching random goons in Streets of Rage… well, your loss.