ZombiU was one of the surprises of E3, taking the boring old zombie shooter idea and using the Wii U’s controller to make something new.
The thing is, ZombiU might not be as new as you think.
While Ubisoft didn’t trumpet the fact (only mentioning it briefly to attendees waiting for their E3 press conference to kick off), in 1986 the very first game the company published was called Zombi. And was about a gang of survivors trying to avoid being eaten by zombies. It even had one of the main lures of ZombiU, in that if the player was eaten, you’d see them reappear as one of the undead.
So far, so reboot.
That’s about where the simlarities end, though. Being a 1986 game for personal computers, Zombi was pretty limited in what it could achieve, and was based entirely in a shopping mall as a homage to Dawn of the Dead (the name Zombi is the Italian title for Romero’s film). The action was limited to individual “rooms”, which you could make your way through in first-person.
Foreshadowing later titles such as Dead Rising, the game also took place in real-time.
It did have a few cool ideas though, especially for such an old game. It had a team mechanic not unlike that found in Space Hulk, and also a badass old Ubisoft logo that’s about as 80s as a company logo could be.
ZombiU, meanwhile, is set throughout London, and is an action-paced shooter that has you frantically rummaging through your backpack for gear while you try and shoot zombies in the face.
Zombi was a bit of a hit for its time, gathering positive reviews and appearing on five systems, including the C64, Spectrum and PC.
You can read our impressions of the new Zombi game here.