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Zombie Zombie for the ZX Spectrum – The First Zombie Video Game

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Zombie Zombie for the ZX Spectrum – The First Zombie Video Game

Zombie Zombie Pack Shot

Images © Quicksilva
The very first video game about Zombies was actually the sequel to Ant Attack, the first truly 3D Isometric video game. Although it is well loved by those who've played it and defined a new genre in gaming, over the years Zombie Zombie has nearly been forgotten.

The Basics:

  • Original Release Date: 1984
  • Publisher: Quicksilva
  • System: ZX Spectrum
  • Format: Cassette Tape
  • Genre: Horror Adventure

History:

In the early 80s the ZX Spectrum dominated the home computer market in Europe with a plethora of groundbreaking and imaginative video games, many of which never released overseas. In 1983 Irish sculpture Sandy White used his brother's Spectrum to create a new 3D game technology; the result was Ant Attack, which was considered by many to be the first truly 3D isometric video game. In Ant Attack players battle it out with giant killer ants across an abandoned city. The game was an instant hit, so it wasn't long before publishers Quicksilva asked White to return to the well to deliver a sequel.

White teamed up with co-producer/writer Angela Sutherland and together they formed their own development company "Spaceman LTD". Instead of retreading more of the same Sandy and Angela sought to make something entirely new while utilizing the same technology and basic graphics. The fruit of their labor was Zombie Zombie, which was not only innovative with its gameplay, but was also the very first Zombie video game.

The Game:

The similarities to Ant Attack are limited to the 3D isometric layout of the game, a similar looking abandoned city overrun by baddies and the choice of a male or female playable character. Everything else in Zombie Zombie, from the gameplay to the addition of color graphics is entirely original. While Ant Attack is a shooter, Zombie Zombie is more of a strategy game.

Inspired by the Zombie flicks of George Romero, the goal of Zombie Zombie is to rid the city of its Zombie infestation. Unlike the majority of Zombie games that followed, in Zombie Zombie you can't kill a Zombie by shooting it in the head. Actually, you don't even get a gun for a weapon, but instead an air cannon that blows the Zombies away with a burst of air. The only way to actually kill a Zombie is to have them chase you up a wall and then jump off. Unlike the playable character, who can jump off any building or wall unscathed, the Zombie that follows will splatter onto the ground in a puddle of undead goo.

Before you start this gruesome game of follow-the-leader, you must first tool around the city in a helicopter, which has the ability to add or remove blocks from the city walls and buildings. The strategy comes into play as you create structures that are easy enough to climb up, but tall enough for the Zombies to drop to their doom. The helicopter is also handy for tooling around and finding Zombies scattered throughout the city. Once you've built up a structure to your liking, or run out of building blocks, you can land and hop out of the copter which automatically returns to the middle of the city.

For getting a Zombie to chase you, all you do is walk close to one. They will pick up on the scent of your delectable flesh and start after you. The Zombies themselves shuffle around slowly until they get your scent, then they hightail it after you in hot pursuit. To hop up a building, you can jump up one block at a time, so it's best to try and design step-like walls while you're in the helicopter, so you can get up high enough to jump off and make the Zombie in tow go splat.

Although the gameplay is a bit more complex than Ant Attack, the controls are simpler, making the game far easier to play.

Reception and Influence:

Although Zombie Zombie didn't reach the acclaim of Ant Attack, it is highly regarded by those who've played it. Since its original '84 release, the game has been lost in obscurity and was never released outside Europe, nor was re-release or ported.

Regardless, it was a historic step for horror games, infusing the biggest survival-horror theme that remains one of gaming's most popular types of enemy today. It was also a major influence to a few horror obsessed French musicians, who named their "analogue disco-krout" group Zombie Zombie after the game. For samples of thier work go to their official myspace page.

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