Double Tap: Zombies in Games

As you may or may not know, May is Zombie Awareness Month, and it is the goal of the Zombie Research Society to “bring awareness about zombies and the possibility of a future zombie apocalypse.” While I’m hopeful that we’ll never live to see such a day, I feel generally prepared having dealt with my own fair share of the undead (albeit in digital form).

This month, I’m excited to be joined by Kim from Later Levels as we team up to compile some of our best-loved instances of brain-eating blights in video games. Check out Kim’s article entitled “Infectious Fun: My Favourite Zombie Video Games.”

My top ten picks are below, and I made it a personal challenge to avoid the typical survival horror genre (mostly because they give me nightmares). To honor the month, I’ll include a Zombie Survival Takeaway for each game to help us in the event of a full-on zombie uprising!

10. Secret of Mana
(SNES, 1993)

secret of mana zombie

All aboard the zombie train! Actually, this particular section of the Underground City in Secret of Mana contains “ghouls” – a stronger variant of the zombie baddies found earlier in the game. Apparently, these enemies have an extreme fondness for sweets, too, because they will commonly drop candy upon being defeated!

Zombie Survival Takeaway: Avoid the subway.

9. Final Fantasy 4
(SNES, 1991)

final fantasy 4 super nintendo

After being stripped of his rank as leader of the Red Wings, Cecil is given one last mission to deliver a “package” to the village of Mist which is home to a powerful group of summoners (plot twist: the package is not a new set of curtains from Amazon). Zombies are one of the first enemies encountered in the game, and they can be found in the Underground Waterway on the way to their destination. Since Cecil is a Dark Knight, his attacks only deal 1 HP of damage.

Zombie Survival Takeaway: Make sure you’re a Paladin before fighting/do not attack with darkness.

8. Adventures in the Magic Kingdom
(NES, 1990)

adventures in the magic kingdom nes

“This thriller has the scariest ghouls and ghosts in the Magic Kingdom” according to the original manual for Adventures in the Magic Kingdom. This THRILLER?? I see what you did there. Thankfully, “monsters hate the light,” and you’re equipped with a limited supply of lit candles to throw in their faces. I’ve never been to Disney, but I’m pretty sure you don’t get attacked by zombies in the Haunted Mansion. Correct me if I’m wrong?

Zombie Survival Takeaway: Always carry a lit candle.

7. MediEvil
(Playstation, 1998)

medievil playstation

One good thing about fighting an evil sorcerer that commands an army of undead warriors is that you might have a chance at revenge if you’re killed in your first battle. This is what happened to Sir Daniel Fortesque who was accidentally resurrected by Zarok when the sorcerer tried to raise another batch of zombie troops 100 years after his first attempt at ruling the kingdom of Gallowmere. Freshly reanimated, Dan can even use his own limbs as weapons!

Zombie Survival Takeaway: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em – and THEN beat ’em.

6. Castlevania
(NES, 1986)

castlevania nes

You have to hand it to Dracula (or “The Count!” as he’s called in the manual) for dressing all of his zombie minions in matching robes. The color coordination is off the wall (or *IN* the wall if you’re a piece of pork chop). Truthfully, I never thought these guys were zombies, but then I checked the instructions…

castlevania zombie enemy

Zombie? More like skeleton cosplaying the Grim Reaper. In any case, these “zombies” are the first enemies that you see, and they will never stop spawning.

Zombie Survival Takeaway: If you’re at a good height, stairs are safe.

5. Minecraft
(Windows/MacOS, 2011)

minecraft zombies

Admittedly, I’ve still never played Minecraft, but I know it has a huge following. I think it’s a game I would have really enjoyed if it came out when I was a kid. My Lego collection was quite extensive, and I loved building towns! In the meantime, I just know what I’ve seen.

Zombies are one of the basic “mobs” that can attempt to ruin your crafting experience. While they’re generally pretty easy to kill on their own, they can become a nuisance in large groups. If the sun happens to peak over the horizon though, they’ll burn to a crisp.

Zombie Survival Takeaway: The day is the way.

4. Monster Party
(NES, 1989)

monster party zombies

If you try to attack the zombies in round 5 of Monster Party, they will infinitely reform, and you will never escape their room. Upon entry, you’re told to “watch my dance,” and that’s literally what you have to do. Though it’s not quite as thrilling as the moves from “Thriller,” this pair of undead dancers get down to a prehistoric pentatonic party. Once they finish, they collapse into a heap of bones, and you’re free to continue the level.

Zombie Survival Takeaway: Never interrupt a zombie jamboree.

3. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
(N64, 2000)

majora's mask zombie mummy gibdo

Majora’s Mask already has some pretty dark vibes going on, and this sequence about a father who slowly turns into a mummified Gibdo is utterly horrifying. In short, the father was a connoisseur of the paranormal who lived with his daughter in a Music Box House that’s programmed to play a song that repels the undead. The music box eventually lost power, and the father became cursed while investigating a well. This led to him being shoved into a closet in the basement by his own daughter who was frightened by the potential of an impending Gibdo attack.

Of course, the player doesn’t initially know that there’s a cursed researcher stuck in the closet. When curiosity gets the best of you and you reach for the door, the monstrous mummy jumps out and starts slowly creeping toward you. The only option at the time, other than replacing your pants, is to run away.

Zombie Survival Takeaway: Leave the door closed.

2. Earthbound
(SNES, 1994)

earthbound zombies

According to the original Earthbound strategy guide, “Threed was once called the ‘Fun’ capitol of the world because it is home to the famous Threed Circus.” Now, it is overrun by an onslaught of zombies who answer to a gelatinous blob named “Belch.” After a series of events involving a mysterious “Zombie Chick,” a telepathic call to a new friend, and a battle with a Big Top, Ness and his pals receive a call from an inventor friend who has a solution to the city’s walking dead problem. How to round up the remaining zombies? The same way one would catch flies – sticky paper!

Zombie Survival Takeaway: Zombie Paper.

Honorable Mentions:

“Re: Your Brains” – Rock Band 2
(XBox 360/PS2/PS3/Wii, 2008)

“We’re not unreasonable. I mean, no one’s gonna eat your eyes.”

One of my favorite Rock Band 2 songs is a quirky tune by Jonathon Coulton that tells the tale of a man named Bob who has recently been zombified, and now he wants to consume the brains of his coworker. I mean, we’ve all been there, right?

Zombie Survival Takeaway: Just go with it. Here’s your chance to get back at that annoying guy at your job.

1. Zombies Ate My Neighbors
(SNES, 1993)

zombies ate my neighbors
I’ve had some neighbors where I wouldn’t mind if this happened.

The quintessential zombie game of the 90’s, Zombies Ate My Neighbors had it all. Werewolves, mummies, chainsaw maniacs, and aliens are just a few of the classic-horror, B-movie characters that you’ll go up against as you race to save your neighbors who have seemingly gone on with their day to day lives. Armed with an arsenal that includes your trusty squirt gun, you and a pal can tackle 48 levels of monster mayhem culminating in a battle against the maddening Dr. Tongue who is the cause for all of the mania.

Zombie Survival Takeaway: Break out the Super Soaker.

Thanks for stopping by to read my article! What are some of your favorite instances of zombies in games – and what can you learn from them? Leave me a comment and let me know! Also, if you’re enjoying my content, consider following my blog or subscribing via e-mail to have posts delivered directly to your inbox.

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Published by erichagmann

Arranger / Pianist / Vocalist / Educator / Gamer

9 thoughts on “Double Tap: Zombies in Games

  1. It’s been a pleasure to do a zombie collaboration with someone who feels the same way about scary games! I particularly like the survival tips too – making sure we all come out of the apocalypse alive and uninfected.


  2. It’s been a pleasure to do a zombie collaboration with someone who feels the same way about scary video games! I particularly like the survival tips too – making sure we all come out of the apocalypse alive and uninfected.

    Liked by 1 person

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