After making a big deal about horror games not being scary anymore, I’m going to sound like a huge hypocrite when I talk about why I’d love to see Zombies Ate My Neighbors remade but my affinity for that series has absolutely nothing to do with being scared. To me, the original Zombies Ate My Neighbors was all about teaming up with your bros against a who’s who of B-movie grade baddies and I want to relive that feeling again, but not in the format that the game was originally presented in. It may turn some heads for me to say this, but I want a Zombies Ate My Neighbors MMO experience…I want more bros involved. Flame on.
Been there, done that?
I realize that games like All Zombies Must Die and Monster Madness are close to what a remake or re-imagining of Zombies Ate My Neighbors would look like, so I’m ok with throwing a wrench in the gears by suggesting my remake step way outside the top down shooter genre. Because it was a two player game, it’s obvious that experience is made better by the inclusion of others and it’s in this way that I think such a game could thrive. A monster invasion just seems like more fun when you have a range of different players affecting certain events and I can only imagine how awesome it would be if the conventional player builds of MMOs were stood on their head to mirror the way the original played.
Zombies Ate My Neighbors essentially had three factions in it: the two hero characters (Zeke and Julia), the monsters and the innocent people you had to save. I propose we make all three of those factions available to players upon booting up the game, but not restrict them to only staying within those factions throughout. I see the heroic forces constantly trying to fend off monster attacks or infiltrate monster nests, the monsters trying to gain a foothold on the Earth and convert NPCs to their cause (or eat them) and the non-combatants tasked with maintaining the infrastructure of the cities or towns they live in. I see this as a way to bring together gamers from different genres (The WoWs vs. Second Life/Sims) to interact with each other in an environment conducive to their preferred genre.
This would be the ultimate form of cooperation because protecting the innocents or providing services to the defensive force would make or break the progress of the town/city one resides in, creating an interesting mechanic. Monsters wouldn’t necessarily have a non-combatant force, but perhaps they’d need to think about the types of creatures that attack certain areas or find way to join in on the computer generated attacks that occur at random. Being that monsters aren’t always the best of friends there’d be room for internal monster conflict too.
The game has changed, gentlemen
Though as I mentioned earlier, there would be no restriction or requirement in terms of longevity in a specific class, so an innocent person could take up arms as easily as they could be transformed into a monster after getting bitten and vice versa. The game would constantly change, making for some exciting but tense scenarios. It’d be cool to see the slow transformation of a person into a monster and perhaps one of the tasks of the non-combatant faction could be to pursue a cure. Symptoms would have to be hidden or else risk the attention of NPC character who will attack on site. If you happen to die as a human, perhaps you could choose to come back as a zombie in need of a cure, thus giving you some type of bonus for putting in the leg work instead of letting the game resurrect you in your original form.
So you may wonder how this has anything to do with Zombies Ate My Neighbors, and to that I say the fun and humor of that game would be injected into the seriousness of most MMO games. While conventional weaponry would be available, I like the idea of killing werewolves with silverware or melting zombies with a holy water filled water gun. Think Ernest Scared Stupid and the all out milk assault it took to destroy the trolls that were attacking. I think things should be chaotic and goofy despite horror themed monsters rampaging throughout. This could be an opportunity to celebrate a century of awesome horror themed movie and game scenarios all wrapped up into one title, the more far out the better. People should smile while playing this game but also exclaim to friends: “This mission is an Aliens reference” or “Is that Jason Vorhees coming after us?” Should you choose the victim faction, I think the idea of running and hiding from a horrifying creature could be just as fun as shooting at it.
Why is everyone standing around?
In terms of game play, this remake would have to be an action game so the whole stand and attack mechanic of most standard MMOs wouldn’t work. The game Global Agenda actually does a pretty good job of keeping game play fast and the faction vs. faction instances that game has could also work here as well. I’d want people to be able to pick it up and play, but skilled players should be rewarded for the time they put into it. That being said, I would want levels to amount to new skills as opposed to just increased health or what have you, that way there isn’t a need for grinding to enjoy what most would consider end game content.
One aspect of the game I’d really put an emphasis on would be keeping things chaotic and creating a sense of anything can happen at anytime, much like in the way the original presented its levels. One minute you were fighting werewolves, the next giant babies. It was funny and always kept you on your toes. There should be events that occur randomly throughout that benefit the specific factions, such as zombie outbreaks or military bases being set up. New events could be disguised in updates that are common with most games like this. Perhaps a space ship crashes and releases a new kind of monster onto the world or maybe an anti monster robot sets its sights on an overrun research facility. These scenarios wouldn’t be advertised as their randomness and mystery would make for a much better tone. Perhaps clues would pop up in the form of news headlines or evidence scattered at random but I wouldn’t want there be enough information to allow either faction to fully prepare.
Perhaps remake isn’t exactly what I am going for here, but I think the “not taking itself too seriously” tone that Zombies Ate My Neighbors set is one that would work well in the often super serious world of MMOs. Zombies could very well eat your neighbors, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t giggle with joy as much as we weep their passing.
Remake It So – A quick look back at a game or game franchise that could benefit from an updated title. We discuss what makes the original standout, and what new technology could add to a new experience.
Giant Bomb (images)