Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

Zombies have been a staple in popular culture for decades, and their popularity has only grown with the rise of zombie games. But, have you ever wondered what the first ever zombie game was? Join us as we embark on a journey to uncover the roots of zombie gaming and find out which game started it all. Get ready to discover the game that set the stage for all the zombie games that followed, and learn about the history of this iconic genre.

Zombies have been a part of our culture for many years, with movies, books, and video games all featuring the undead creatures. But, which game was the first to introduce the world to the zombie apocalypse? In this article, we will delve into the history of zombie gaming and uncover the first ever zombie game. From its humble beginnings to its impact on the gaming industry, we will explore the game that started it all.

The First Ever Zombie Game:
So, what was the first ever zombie game? It’s a question that has puzzled gamers for years, and the answer may surprise you. The first ever zombie game was actually a text-based adventure game called “Colossal Cave Adventure,” which was released in 1976. While it may not have featured zombies in the traditional sense, the game did include undead creatures that could kill the player.

The Influence of the First Zombie Game:
Despite being a text-based adventure game, “Colossal Cave Adventure” had a significant impact on the gaming industry. The game’s inclusion of undead creatures helped to popularize the concept of zombies in gaming, and laid the groundwork for future zombie games. Its influence can be seen in many modern zombie games, including the popular “Resident Evil” series.

So, there you have it – the first ever zombie game was “Colossal Cave Adventure,” a text-based adventure game released in 1976. Despite being over 40 years old, the game’s influence can still be seen in modern zombie games. Next time you’re playing your favorite zombie game, remember the game that started it all and the undead creatures that helped to make zombies a staple in popular culture.

The Origins of Zombie Games

Early Influences on Zombie Games

The concept of zombies has been a staple of horror literature and films for decades, and it is no surprise that this rich source of material has had a significant impact on the development of zombie games. However, zombie games were not simply influenced by horror, but also by science fiction and post-apocalyptic stories, as well as folklore and mythology.

Horror literature and films

Horror literature and films have long been a source of inspiration for zombie games. One of the earliest and most influential works in this genre is the novel “The Zombies of the World: A Guide to Their Nature, Habits, and Distribution” by British author Max Brooks. This book, published in 1954, presents a comprehensive study of the zombie phenomenon, including its origins, behavior, and geographical distribution.

In addition to books, horror films have also played a significant role in shaping the zombie genre. Films such as “Night of the Living Dead” (1968) and “Dawn of the Dead” (1978) introduced a new type of monster to the horror genre, one that was both terrifying and relentless. These films portrayed zombies as mindless, shuffling creatures that were virtually indestructible, and they set the stage for the many zombie films and games that would follow.

Science fiction and post-apocalyptic stories

Science fiction and post-apocalyptic stories have also been important influences on zombie games. In these works, zombies are often depicted as the result of a scientific experiment gone wrong, a virus, or some other type of catastrophic event. These stories often focus on the struggle of survivors in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by zombies.

One of the earliest examples of this type of story is the novel “The Last Man on Earth” by Richard Matheson, published in 1954. This book tells the story of a man who is one of the few survivors of a global plague that has turned most of humanity into vampire-like creatures. The book explores themes of isolation, survival, and the human condition in a world overrun by the undead.

Folklore and mythology

Finally, folklore and mythology have also played a role in the development of zombie games. Many cultures have their own stories of the undead, from the ancient Egyptian god Osiris to the Haitian voodoo zombie. These stories often involve magic or supernatural forces that bring the dead back to life, and they have provided inspiration for many zombie games.

One example of this is the game “Resident Evil,” which draws heavily on the theme of voodoo zombies. The game’s story revolves around a mansion infested with zombies that have been brought back to life through the power of a mystical virus. The game combines elements of horror, science fiction, and folklore to create a unique and terrifying experience for players.

Overall, the roots of zombie gaming can be traced back to a variety of sources, including horror literature and films, science fiction and post-apocalyptic stories, and folklore and mythology. These influences have helped to shape the zombie genre into what it is today, a staple of popular culture that continues to captivate and terrify audiences around the world.

The Emergence of Zombie Games in the 1980s

  • The release of classic arcade games such as “Zombie” and “Ghouls ‘n Ghosts”
    • “Zombie” was released in 1984 by Konami and was one of the first arcade games to feature zombies as the main antagonists. The game’s objective was to survive against waves of zombies and other undead creatures.
    • “Ghouls ‘n Ghosts” was released in 1988 by Capcom and is considered a classic in the genre. The game follows the character Sir Arthur as he battles zombies and other supernatural enemies in a quest to save his wife from the undead king.
  • The rise of home consoles and personal computers, enabling more complex and varied games
    • The 1980s saw the rise of home consoles such as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and the Sega Genesis, which allowed for more complex and varied games to be developed.
    • The emergence of personal computers also contributed to the growth of the zombie game genre, as developers could create more sophisticated games with better graphics and sound.
  • The popularity of games like “CastleVania” and “Resident Evil”
    • “CastleVania” was released in 1989 for the NES and is considered a classic in the action-adventure genre. The game features zombies and other undead creatures as enemies, and the player must use a variety of weapons and skills to defeat them.
    • “Resident Evil” was released in 1996 for the PlayStation and is considered one of the most influential games in the survival horror genre. The game features zombies as the primary antagonists, and the player must navigate a mansion while solving puzzles and fighting off the undead.

The First Ever Zombie Game: “Zombie” (1984)

Key takeaway: The zombie game genre owes its existence to the innovative and influential game “Zombie,” which was released in 1984. “Zombie” introduced the undead enemy type, combined horror and action elements, and focused on survival and resource management. Its impact can be seen in the countless zombie games that have followed, shaping the expectations and tropes of the genre and paving the way for the modern zombie game landscape. Today, the zombie game genre remains one of the most popular and enduring in gaming, with titles like “Resident Evil” and “Dying Light” becoming household names.

The Creation of “Zombie”

  • In 1984, Japanese game studio Taito released the first-ever zombie game, simply titled “Zombie.”
  • The game was designed by renowned game director, Makoto Kanai, who would later go on to create other popular arcade games such as “Rastan” and “Cleopatra’s Fortune.”
  • “Zombie” was designed as a top-down, maze-based game where players had to navigate through a series of mazes, fighting off waves of zombies and other undead creatures along the way.
  • The game’s development was heavily influenced by the popularity of horror movies in the 1980s, with many of the game’s enemies and environments taking inspiration from classic horror films such as “Night of the Living Dead” and “The Last Man on Earth.”
  • The game was a commercial success, helping to popularize the zombie genre in video games and paving the way for future zombie-themed games such as “House of the Dead” and “Resident Evil.”

Gameplay and Features

“Zombie” was a groundbreaking game in the world of gaming, and it introduced several features that would become staples of the zombie genre. The gameplay was fast-paced and intense, with players controlling a commando as they fought their way through hordes of zombies. Here are some of the key features of the game:

  • Side-scrolling action game: “Zombie” was a side-scrolling game, meaning that the action moved from left to right, and the player had to constantly move forward to avoid being overrun by the undead.
  • Players control a commando: The player character was a commando, tasked with taking on the zombie hordes and rescuing survivors. The commando was highly skilled and well-equipped, making him a formidable opponent against the undead.
  • Hordes of zombies: The game featured massive hordes of zombies, each one hungry for human flesh. The zombies were fast and relentless, making it difficult for the player to stay alive for long.
  • Power-ups and weapons: The commando had access to a variety of weapons and power-ups, including flamethrowers and chainsaws. These tools were essential for taking down the zombies and making it through each level.
  • Innovative graphics and sound effects: Despite being released in 1984, “Zombie” had impressive graphics and sound effects for the time. The game’s designers used creative techniques to create a gory and terrifying world, full of blood and guts.

Overall, “Zombie” was a revolutionary game that set the stage for the zombie genre in gaming. Its fast-paced gameplay, innovative features, and terrifying zombie hordes captured the imagination of gamers around the world, and it remains a classic to this day.

The Impact of “Zombie” on the Zombie Game Genre

Establishing the Zombie Game Formula

  • Introduction of the undead enemy type
    • The zombie game genre owes its existence to the introduction of the undead enemy type. Zombies, as depicted in popular culture, have a unique appeal that captivates gamers. Their mindless yet relentless pursuit of the living, coupled with their grotesque appearance, creates a sense of horror and tension that drives the narrative of zombie games.
  • Combination of horror and action elements
    • The combination of horror and action elements is a key aspect of the zombie game formula. This combination creates a sense of urgency and adrenaline-fueled gameplay that keeps players engaged. The fear and terror that zombies evoke are balanced by the need for players to use violence and combat skills to defeat them. This dynamic creates a unique gaming experience that is both thrilling and terrifying.
  • Focus on survival and resource management
    • Survival and resource management are crucial elements of the zombie game formula. In zombie games, players must scavenge for resources and make strategic decisions about how to use them. This emphasis on survival creates a sense of realism and immersion that draws players into the game world. The need to conserve resources and make difficult choices about who to trust or abandon adds an extra layer of tension and drama to the gameplay.

Overall, the zombie game formula is a unique blend of horror, action, and survival elements that has captivated gamers for decades. The introduction of the undead enemy type, the combination of horror and action, and the focus on survival and resource management have all contributed to the enduring popularity of zombie games.

Inspiring Future Zombie Games

The first-ever zombie game, “Zombie,” released in 1984, had a profound impact on the zombie game genre. Its influence can be seen in the numerous zombie games that followed, shaping the expectations and tropes of the genre and paving the way for the modern zombie game landscape.

Influence on Subsequent Arcade and Console Games

“Zombie” was a significant influence on arcade and console games that followed. The game’s focus on survival gameplay, where players had to fend off waves of zombies, inspired many subsequent games to adopt similar mechanics. This includes classic arcade games like “House of the Dead” and “The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct.”

In addition, the game’s emphasis on resource management, such as finding weapons and ammunition, was also a key feature that many future zombie games incorporated. The popular console game “Resident Evil” is a prime example of this, as players must scavenge for weapons and ammunition while fending off zombies.

Shaping the Expectations and Tropes of the Genre

“Zombie” also had a significant impact on the expectations and tropes of the zombie game genre. The game popularized the idea of zombies as a relentless, unstoppable force that players must constantly fight against. This trope has been featured in countless zombie games since, including “Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies” and “Left 4 Dead.”

Additionally, the game’s emphasis on survival and escape from a zombie outbreak laid the groundwork for future zombie games to explore the post-apocalyptic world and the struggle for survival in such a world. Games like “Fallout” and “The Last of Us” have since built on this concept, exploring the challenges of surviving in a world overrun by zombies.

Paving the Way for the Modern Zombie Game Landscape

Overall, “Zombie” was a pioneering game that paved the way for the modern zombie game landscape. Its influence can be seen in the countless zombie games that have followed, each building on the tropes and mechanics established by the original. Today, the zombie game genre is one of the most popular and enduring in gaming, and “Zombie” can be credited as one of its key foundational games.

The Legacy of “Zombie” Today

The Continued Popularity of Zombie Games

The enduring appeal of the zombie genre can be attributed to several factors. For one, zombies have become a cultural phenomenon, capturing the imagination of audiences worldwide. Additionally, the undead creatures represent a primal fear of death and decay, which resonates with players on a deep psychological level. Moreover, the concept of a zombie apocalypse allows players to explore survival instincts and confront their own mortality in a safe, virtual environment.

The influence of “Zombie” on contemporary zombie games is undeniable. Many modern games have taken inspiration from the classic arcade game, incorporating similar gameplay mechanics and themes. For example, the popular first-person shooter “Call of Duty: Black Ops” features a zombie mode, where players must fight off hordes of the undead. Similarly, the critically acclaimed “The Last of Us” features a post-apocalyptic setting overrun by zombie-like creatures.

The evolution of the zombie game genre has been marked by a constant push for innovation and improvement. Developers have sought to create more immersive worlds, realistic enemy AI, and sophisticated storytelling. As a result, zombie games have carved out a unique niche in the gaming industry, with titles like “Resident Evil” and “Dying Light” becoming household names.

In conclusion, the continued popularity of zombie games is a testament to the enduring power of the zombie genre and the creativity of game developers. Whether players are seeking thrills, exploring complex themes, or simply enjoying a good scare, zombie games offer a rich and rewarding experience that continues to captivate gamers of all ages and backgrounds.

Re-releases and Retrospectives

  • Re-releases on modern consoles and mobile devices
    • Emulators and online platforms bring back the classic game for a new generation of players
    • Remastered versions with updated graphics and sound enhance the player experience
    • Increased accessibility for those who may have missed out on the original release
  • Retrospective reviews and articles analyzing the game’s impact
    • Critics and journalists revisit the game to evaluate its influence on the gaming industry
    • Examination of its influence on future zombie games and horror games in general
    • Analysis of its place in gaming history and its relevance today
  • Fan communities and online forums dedicated to the game
    • Fans share their memories and experiences with the game
    • Discussion of its influence on the gaming world and pop culture
    • Creation of fan art, fan fiction, and other forms of fan-generated content.


1. What is a zombie game?

A zombie game is a video game that features zombies as the primary antagonists. These games typically involve the player fighting or surviving against hordes of zombies, often with a variety of weapons and tools at their disposal.

2. What makes a game a “zombie game”?

A game can be considered a zombie game if it features zombies as the primary antagonists, and if the gameplay focuses on fighting or surviving against these zombies. Some games may also include elements of horror or survival, but this is not a strict requirement for a game to be considered a zombie game.

3. When did the first zombie game come out?

The first zombie game is widely considered to be “Night of the Living Dead,” which was released in 1968. This game was a text-based adventure game that was inspired by the popular horror film of the same name.

4. What was the first ever zombie video game?

The first ever zombie video game is considered to be “Zombies Ate My Neighbors,” which was released in 1993 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. This game was a run-and-gun style game that featured two players controlling characters who had to fight their way through hordes of zombies and other monsters.

5. How has the zombie game genre evolved over time?

The zombie game genre has evolved significantly over time, with new games incorporating more advanced graphics, sound, and gameplay mechanics. Many modern zombie games also feature online multiplayer modes, where players can team up to fight against hordes of zombies together. Additionally, some games have expanded beyond traditional horror and survival themes, incorporating elements of comedy, science fiction, and other genres.

Evolution of Zombies in Video Games 1982 – 2021

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