The living dead never rest, and because of that they have plenty of jobs not only in television and cinema, but also in the video game industry. It’s hard to think of a genre that doesn’t include zombies, but what exactly is a zombie?
In Haitian Folklore, a Zombie is a reanimated corpse with half a soul or no soul that serves as a slave for his master, or Bokor, and they can only be saved if they are fed salt. Many people associate zombies as a metaphor for Haitian slavery.
A zombie can be a person presumed dead that has been drugged (there are drugs that can make someone appear to be dead) and put in a hypnotic trance in order to fulfill the will of its master. Salt, once again, is the chemical antidote to becoming a drugged zombie.
According to the Romeroverse, a zombie is a mindless, dead body brought to life that feeds off the living. We see examples of these monster-like, undead creatures in video games exhibiting such standard features as rotting flesh, oozing intestines, and a dragging gait. Zombies cannot be killed via traditional methods, although they will come back if you are not careful!
-Slow-Moving: Zombies are rotting corpses with rigor mortis. Your advantage in the game is that they will never outrun you. They are slow enough for you to pass by quickly to grab a weapon and crush their heads like melons.
-Strength in Numbers: If you find a zombie, be careful because you will probably find more nearby.
-They are Contagious: Scratches or bites can turn you into a zombie, so beware! Think carefully before cutting your own arm off.
-Dead-Brain: A zombie is not smart (let’s be honest), which is the reason why they can’t do things like coordinate an attack on a human base (Land of the Dead was awful.)
-Rotting Body: If your flesh is tearing apart, your skin is white or grey in color, or you no longer feel pain or have a pulse, then you were not thinking carefully as I warned above. You, my friend, have become a zombie. (Run! There are others!)
-“Life” in the Graveyard: Reanimated bodies do not require the treasured comforts of the living, yet make rather unpleasant neighbors. Keep off their lawn. Better yet, just stay away from graveyards all together.
-Action/Platformer: This category includes games like the Castlevania franchise and Nosferatu, a game that combines the Castlevania atmosphere with the Prince of Persia style of game play and features the best types of zombies. The undead of Nosferatu are mostly low-level zombies, but introduces one of the most challenging bosses of the game, the “Zombie Vampire,” who is able to kill you without use of its body.
-Action/Survival Horror: The Resident Evil franchise (or, specifically, the first three games) presents us with infected, necrotic beings who must be shot in the head or destroyed by fire, or they will revive, again and again.
Resident Evil is one of the most well known Zombie themed video game franchises.
-Beat em up/Platformer: Moonwalker, ’cause this is thriller! Thriller night!
-Educational: Typing of the Dead, because even educational games have zombies, and this one is awesome!
-Fighting: Speaking of “awesome,” we now meet Zabel Zarock (Lord Raptor) from Darkstalkers, a former rockstar who killed his fans. The emperor Ozomu revived Zarock as a zombie to have him destroy the other Darkstalkers for the promise of more power. Zarock’s true intention, however, is to kill Ozomu and take his place, which doesn’t bode well for him in Darkstalkers 3. While not possessing the traditional slow-moving zombie gait, he is still a reanimated corpse with a “dead brain”, who is dumb enough to explode by absorbing too many souls, which earns him his place on this list. While he is not the only zombie in this genre, he is genuinely one of my favorite fighters.
-FPS: Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. This game reminds us that there’s nothing like action between vampires and zombies. I would include more zombies, but in theory they are too fast to truly be considered for this list.
-Graphic Adventure: The Walking Dead. We all know that killing zombies isn’t really the point of the game.
-Hack and Slash: Specifically the Hack and Slash genre featuring ample amounts of aptly-bosomed ladies, we examine The Zombie Hunters (Onechanbara) franchise which is essentially Lollipop Chainsaw several years before. While I have not played either of these games, it has come to my attention that they have received equal amounts of positive and negative reviews. How bad can a game about a hot young scantily clad zombie-slaying girl actually be?
-Puzzles: Zombie, a character that likes metal music (I wonder if his favorite is death metal), pops out of the ground to scare people, and really stinks. Let’s also not forget Mini-Zombie from Puyo Puyo.
-Puzzles/Platformers: An excellent example from Wario Land 3–These guys throw their own heads like boomerangs to turn you into Zombie Wario, with the ability to fall through floors and walk through spikes, aiding you in your puzzle-solving quest.
-Rail Shooter: The House of the Dead, which may be the most well known title of rail shooters.
-RPG: We have Zombies in Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Shin Megami, but for me, none of them are as good as the Zombie Lady and Zombie Man from Mother 3. Just take a look at this scene:
-Run and Gun: Then we have Zombies Ate My Neighbors, and if you played this game you probably agree that it deserves a remake.
-Run and Gun/Platformer: Ghosts ‘n Goblins (Makaimura) showcases classic weak zombie enemies that appear in the first level of the game.
-Sandbox/Survival: The Dead Rising franchise. I mean, just look at this picture!
-Simulation: Organ Trail, pretty much the equivalent to Oregon Trail in a zombie apocalypse.
–Tactical Shooter: The Sniper Elite: Zombie Edition. The zombies are slow, rotting, and very fun. You’ll never get bored watching their heads explode.
-Tower Defense: Plants vs. Zombies. They aren’t the scariest of zombies, but they still make the cut.
-FPS/Action: Left 4 Dead. These zombies remind me of the ones from the movie 28 Days Later.
-3rd Person Shooter: The Last of Us. These creatures are similar to zombies, but are technically more like mutants, similar to those from Resident Evil 4. Ultimately, these creatures are controlled by a parasite or fungus, so they are not classic zombies by definition.
-3rd Person Shooter/Survival Horror: Dead Space. There is a huge line between The Night of Living Dead and The Thing, and that is pure John Carpenter style.
In the end, zombies are by far one of the most common and popular enemies in video games today. If you’re developing a new game and need some enemies, you can always rely on the classic zombie.