Welcome to His Game. He Put Zombies in It, for Our Pain!

Monday, August 24, 2009
Even before Xbox Live's "Community Games" section was renamed "indie" it's been hit-and-miss. For the arrival of each "Miner: Dig Deep" come approximately four controller massage games. For every beautiful rose there are a dozen noxious weeds. Yet the Xbox Live community manages to thrive, germinating -- as the metaphor goes -- the decent games by gossip, by word of mouth, and the exploits of courageous pioneers. We could do with fewer "Barf and Beer" and more titles like "I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES!!!1," which is one of the best games in the indie games section.

And it's only a dollar.

"I MAED..." isn't a long game, but we all learned brevity is the soul of wit and tediousness the limbs of outward flourishes from Polonius. There are no outward flourishing limbs here. Well, actually, there probably are, but you can BLOW THEM THE FUCK UP, something Shakespeare probably never considered.

Though short, "I MAED" is clever and fun, relying on the appeal of zombies, spastic disco lights, and a hilarious soundtrack to win you over. If you're not a fan of zombies or overly literal songs about them, you might not like "I MAED A GAM3 W1TH ZOMB1ES!!!1." But I'm convinced that type of person is just in denial, and we all know that's the longest river in the world.

Keeping with popular indie genres, "I MAED A GAM3 W1TH ZOMB1ES!!!1" is a dual-joystick shooter. All the standard weapons are accounted for -- pistol, shotgun, machine gun, plasma gun, rocket launcher, flame thrower, laser. And killing zombies feels rewarding and balanced, although I personally found the laser insufficient for my zombie-killing needs. Enemies drop weapons, shields, and lives, but besides the different weapons your options for killing zombies is somewhat limited. The game is also co-op (sorry, no drop-in) so you and three friends can race for a high score, or just kick back with a few beers and... kill zombies.

Did I mention zombies?

You'll only find one tougher variation to the standard zombie. For some reason, there are Geometry Wars inspired "snake" enemies as well as slow-moving blobs and flashing, floating faces. While there isn't a whole lot of variety in the enemies, you probably will be moving and shooting and laughing too much to care. I would have liked to see some upgrades for each gun, as well as a few options to tweak the game settings, such as zombie speed and weapon pick-ups. The lack of options notwithstanding, "I MAED A GAM3 W1TH ZOMB1ES!!!1" has it where it counts.

The best thing about the game is arguably the soundtrack. The song while you play is possibly the best song I've heard in an indie game, ever. And later, while playing "Shadow Complex," my friend and I couldn't stop singing it, then chuckling, then talking about going back and killing more zombies. The literalness and self-referential quality of the game really go far to deflate the lingering seriousness of current games climate.

Thanks to some zombies and a clever writer, Xbox Live Indie Games has a new hit.