Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Returning to work after a three-day weekend seems to naturally turn my thoughts to zombies for some reason. The eternal question (Which is more awesome, Pirates or Ninjas?) is largely a matter of debate, though if one of the choices is prefaced with "Zombie", the answer is clear.
Unfortunately, this leads to the inevitable follow-up question . . . Which is more awesome, Zombie Pirates or Zombie Ninjas? In that case, you are in for a lengthy debate and if you aren't up for it I suggest reposing the question with the word "Cyborg" in it somewhere, then running out of the comic book store as quickly as possible.
There seems to be a nearly limitless number of choices when it comes to zombies in gaming.
Someday, when confronted with the typical grown up after dinner board game, I'd love to unleash Zombies!!! The game starts when the players take turns drawing map tiles, which are placed on the table as they are randomly chosen so that the game is different each time.
Each player then chooses a different colored "guy with a chainsaw" figurine. The goal of the game is to get your chainsaw wielding little guy across the landscape to the heli-pad.
Awesome, right? It gets freaking better!
There are zombies who move about the board. If you kill a pre-determined number of them (simple opposed dice roll) then you win. If you lose a zombie combat, you go back to the beginning.
But Garrick, why is this a suitable dinner party game for adults?
I'm glad you asked!
Because rather than fighting the zombies, it is much more efficient to just spend a turn telling the zombies where the other players are to let them fight the zombies for you. In that way, 'Zombies!!!' is a lot like High School.
There are also expansion packs for the game including Zombies!!!2 Zombie Corps(e) with military base tiles, new rules for more powerful zombies and six "radioactive" glow-in-the-dark zombie pieces. I also like Zombies!!! 3 because it is set in a mall, as all the best zombie sagas tend to be.
Admittedly, these games would require a person to come out of the "Zombie Closet" and admit, among other adults, that zombies are awesome. Some people may have issues with that. If that is the case, you can always just find a nice quiet online game like Urban Dead. I've played a little. It runs on just about any computer with a web browser and I tested it on the mail server at work. I made it through 50 actions without getting eaten, but I used up my flare gun and dropped my medical kit. The game is totally free and browser based. My character is a 'Consumer' currently hiding in a warehouse. If you create a character and try it out, be sure to say "hello" to SoccerGrrrl1991, and please share the medkit.
In addition to learning vital survival information, there is enormous potential for personal development and education in zombie games. As usual, Americans are behind the rest of the world. I found a Japanese-only PlayStation 2 game that teaches typing through anti-zombie combat. Your character can destroy the zombies shambling around aggressively by typing the words they display. The slower you type, the closer they get. Eventually, if you don't type fast enough, they catch you. I'm not sure what zombies you can destroy by typing would do with a person they captured, but smart money says it isn't pleasant. As a possibly interesting side note, the zombie typing game is a sequel. Some other zombie typing game made enough money to justify making a part two. Or maybe there were just too many unanswered questions.
The tried and true Dungeons and Dragons Role-Playing Game includes all kinds of zombies for use in a zombie-centric game series. In addition to the normal shambling undead, there are 'good' zombies powered by positive energy, plant zombies which are vegetarian, characters who can create and control zombies and and a zombie 'template' which can be applied to almost any creature (as in the pirate and ninja example above) for added awesomeness.
The zombie template is pretty fun. Zombie dragons, zombie manticores, zombie unicorns and zombie pixies are all creepy and awesome in their own way, but all are united in their love of yummy tasty brains.
So maybe this is all too much. I'll admit that zombie games are not for everyone. Everyone does need some kind of zombie experience, though.
David Wellington writes some pretty awesome horror stuff. More importantly, he releases most of it in serialized 'blog format. Having never read a zombie novel, I can say I'm really enjoying Monster Island. The novel is set after an epidemic wipes out most people and causes zombieism (blah blah blah) but then it quickly breaks out of the mold. The audience is introduced to a medical student who became a zombie but saved his brain function in the process, a UN weapons inspector and a group of Somali schoolgirl soldiers. Wellington has the decency to let the reader grow attached to the characters before they get eaten.
Monster Island is part of a trilogy. An awesome, twisted trilogy.
He has another book, Thirteen Bullets, which is a vampire novel. To keep this on topic, there are "half dead" creatures which are kind of like zombies only less brain hungry.
To close out this sick and evil post, I have to share some other news. I've been called to jury duty for the first time ever. In filling out the paperwork, I noticed the date I'm to appear is 6-6-6. The jury duty of the beast, my friends. It's almost like they know me.


Pamela Moore said...

Zombies! Awesome! There's a great book by Max Brooks (son of Mel) called The Zombie Survival Handbook. It's a great read, and totally applicable. I read it (so did Andrew) so we're totally prepared for a Stage 4 outbreak.

Why wait until after dinner to play the zombie game? Do it over dinner and serve spaghetti . . . or manicotti. (I know how you feel about manicotti.)

Re: jury duty - that totally sucks. At least they picked a good day for it. I'm hoping that my name stays out of the jury duty hat. Here in sunny California, drawing the jury duty straw could cut my income down to $15 a day for several months while debating about letting off some homocidal celebrity for a really gruesome crime.

(Speaking of homocidal celebrities and pasta, my office is almost directly across the street from the place where Robert Blake killed his wife.)

Garrick said...

Manicotti is too creepy to this very day. In fact, I think the incident you refer to not only soured me on manicotti but on Italian food in general. I know it forever destroyed my appreciation for heavy-handed, pseudo-intellectual, shock-and-awe-and-disturb college drama.
Robert Blake killed his wife? According to our justice system, the man is as innocent as O.J. Simpson.

Pamela Moore said...

Yes, ol' Bobby Blake is as innocent as O.J. I think Blake's lawyer also used the Chewbacca Defense that was completely delineated on "South Park."

The Robert Blake pasta dish is corkscrew noodles in garlic, olive oil, spinach and fresh tomato sauce. If I'd created it, it would be the corkscrew noodles with onions (for the tears and "Oh God it wasn't me")and dark red wine sauce (for the blood, obviously), all served beside a smoking gun.