I, like many others, was shocked to hear that horror icon George A. Romero passed away late last week. Not only was he one of my favorite directors, but he was the father of all things Zombie. Without his iconic movie Night of the Living Dead, we may not have had some of our favorite games, movies, or television shows. To me he was a horror icon and will be terribly missed by all fans of things creepy and crawly. These are five games I plan to play in the upcoming weeks as a sort of memorial to the man and the legend, George A. Romero.
5) Resident Evil
This is the game that got me into zombies and back into video games in 1997. Had this title not existed, all the articles on this website written by me may have never existed, because I never would have been sucked into the gaming industry. Conversely I don’t think Resident Evil would have existed had Night of the Living Dead never been made. I know that Gone Home was a huge inspiration for this title as well, but I can’t help but believe that Shinji Mikami had somehow seen Dawn of the Dead at some point to get the zombies in the game just right. Either way, if you want to play a game that is similar to Night of the Living Dead, then Resident Evil is your best bet.
4) The Walking Dead: A Telltale Series
Unfortunately with the popularity of The Walking Dead AMC show, Romero’s movies were having a hard time getting funded. He stated that due to the show, no one wanted to fund an old fashioned non-digital zombie movie anymore. The studios wanted huge budgets with lots of CGI rendered gore—Romero wasn’t about that. He and Tom Savini did so much more with just rubber and makeup than anyone could do with a keyboard. However, without Romero’s Dead world, there would have been nothing for Robert Kirkman to be inspired by. I’ve been a huge fan of the comic books since I bought the first issue years ago, but the show has lost me, especially after season 2. TellTale did a commendable job of translating the comic book into a video game format, and that is why I like the series so much. To me, I’m playing an interactive comic book that takes place in the world Kirkman created that I can continue to read as I play. I love that about the series.
3) House of the Dead
Sega’s zombie games were my guilty pleasure whenever I would enter an arcade. I would frantically search for one of the gun-holding kiosks and hope that they weren’t down for maintenance. I would pump quarter after quarter into these games in the hopes of finally seeing the last boss. That never happened until I bought a copy for my Sega Dreamcast and finally got good enough to make it through with the limited lives and continues I had. The shambling, decaying zombies would be right in your face as you found out just how good a shot you were. While this game does not fit directly into the mythos of Romero, you can see where they pulled some ideas here and there from his movies and such.
2) Dead Rising
My favorite Romero movie has to be Dawn of the Dead. I remember watching that title over and over in college in my dark dorm room while eating Doritos. Maybe it was because I was obsessed with the ‘70s at the time, or maybe it was because the movie was just spectacular, or possibly it was because I loved going to shopping malls; either way, I almost wore out my VHS copy. Flash forward to a few years later and I was finally purchasing an Xbox 360, with the first games I bought being Dead Rising and the small hit called Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. I’ve been in love with Capcom since my Nintendo days, and them putting out a zombie game that takes place in a Mall was just destined to take my money. Frank West’s story was original and fun, but I can’t say that I wasn’t let down a smidge, because the game didn’t follow the storyline to Dawn of the Dead. Man, what I wouldn’t give to play something like that.
1) Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler’s Green
This is the only game on the list that actually ties into one of George Romero’s movies. Set as a prequel to 2005’s movie of the same name, you play as a farmer who starts his day with a zombie apocalypse. This first-person shooter and hack-and-slash was a game that really came before its time. Dead Island lifted many of the mechanics from this title, and if you play them back-to-back, you can feel the rip off. What I loved about this game is that it’s the only video game to my knowledge that actually takes place in Romero’s world. Seeing as it is an original Xbox game, the graphics aren’t that great and sometimes the controls get a little wonky, but it was nice to venture into his world and survive that nightmare. I wish there were more games that tied into his world, but I think I’ll be satisfied with getting at least one.