Zombies Come Back To (1950s) Life

Stubbs the zombie
Wideload Games
GameCore is's gaming column written by William Vitka.

Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream. Make her the cutest that I've ever seen. Give her two lips like roses and clover, then tell her that her lonely nights are over.

From the Oranger cover of "Mr. Sandman"

The '50s were an era of innocence. Fresh from victory in World War II, America was invincible. We were the good guys in our Garden of Eden.

Then someone took a bite out of Eve's apple.

Rock 'n' roll, a child of the Blues, gave hungry Baby Boomers what they really wanted: Sex 101.

Innocence was transformed, not only by biology but by the prospect of World War III. Kids couldn't talk to their parents so they turned to Elvis. After all, Mr. Sandman was about more than just sweet dreams.

The Cold War brought with it intangible menace and unending fright. People couldn't hold atoms in their hands. Teachers ushered school children through "Duck and Cover" exercises. "Getting under the desk will protect you from nuclear holocaust." So they were told.

The Sci-Fi flicks of the day grabbed hold of that terror and denial. We can't see it. We can't touch it. So let's make the enemy something we can visualize and hold: BEMs (Bug Eyed Monsters for the uninitiated). Don't forget short-skirted Sci-Fi babes. Exploited, yes, but it was Girls! Sex! Aliens!

Such is the chosen era for Wideload Games's Stubbs the Zombie: Rebel Without A Pulse. It is the latest video game title to go retro. I got to look at a preview build of it a while back and I was mighty impressed.

Stubbs takes America's "good ole days" and goes one step beyond. Punchbowl, Pa., a city built during the Eisenhower administration to show off the ultra-futuristic technology of the 21st century, is a new Eden.

The story behind Stubbs is simple enough. Edward "Stubbs" Stubblefield was a traveling salesman and a loser. He was murdered, then buried in a field that became the future site of Punchbowl.

He emerges from the ground as a walking skinsack of disease bent on painting the town red —

. He wants brains. He wants the power and success he never had in life. You're there to wipe that smirk off the ruling — living — class. Getting to munch on their brains and turn them into marching carcasses is nice, too.

Stubbs controls more or less like any third-person game. Its use of the Halo engine is no doubt in thanks to Alex Seropian, Wideload's founder, and his relationship with Bungie. Seropian was a father of Bungie, the company behind the uber-succesful Halo series.

The physics are the same as Halo's. Chuck a gut-grenade (one of many corpse-riffic weapons at your disposal), and your victims scramble and fly through the air like kung fu wire acrobats gone batty.

The enemy AI is responsive and at least somewhat intelligent. The pre-dead (see: living) will duck and dodge, seek cover, and try to direct reinforcements to your position. Sometimes, when there are a large number of enemies on the screen, they will get a little squirrely and run completely amok without any regard for strategy. Then again, panic might be a completely reasonable response to a zombie assault.