So yeah, I had another one of those breaks from playing PS2 games. I was going on a big binge trying to get some more cause of the announcement that Sony was closing down the Playstation 3 store. I was really worried for a second, and was going on a mass purchase, but that came to a halt once people got on Sony’s case enough and convinced them to keep it up. So, uh, I got a bit of a backlog of PS2 games to get through on there now, even some PS1 games, but I will get to those in time. Needless to say, I was going to be reviewing Tokobot Plus, but with work and other projects in the works, it got scrapped for time. Also cause I was just not really enjoying that game all that much. It did not click with me at all. And then, I had an epiphany. PS2 games are good. Great, even. But there’s more to that generation. Something that truly grabs you by the sack and refuses to let go. I’m not just talking about the PS2. I’m talking about Xbox OG, Gamecube, Dreamcast, Gameboy, uh… N-Gage?.... Nah. So yeah, I’m rebranding, people. No longer is this little side project going to be PS2 exclusive. We’re going multiplatform. Now we're talking about everything from the six generation of consoles, the time where being really experimental with new hardware and ideas flourished, or perished. And hey, let’s talk about one that perished tragically, from the age of the Xbox. One that has interested me ever since I was a wee child. Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse.
Stubbs the Zombie was a game that was around the time when Halo was really popular. You can tell cause the game’s box art is plastered with the proud moniker of being made in the Halo Engine. You gotta remember, this was around when Halo: Combat Evolved shook the world. Halo was a big fucking deal back when it came out, getting tons of venues and a mass following so quickly, as well as saving Bungie from going out of business. Sadly, the same couldn’t be said for Stubb’s developers, Wideload Games. Wideload is a studio that I kind of admired their practice for, made up of the co-founder of Bungie, Alexander Seropian, and other Bungie devs, who wanted to make a game with a small team and prove that a small team could make a successful game if they had the passion for it. I kind of respect that. Sadly, this is the games industry, and if I learned anything, if you wanna make a big game that sells a ton of money, you’re gonna need something other than passion. They made Stubbs the Zombie, which was their first and most recognizable game After that, they made other such titles like Hail to the Chimp, a game I never heard of and apparently no one liked. They would later go on to be bought by Disney Interactive, and much like everything under the Disney Interactive thumb, would die a slow painful death. They went out with one last hurrah with Guilty Party on the Wii, which was actually pretty fun, before banished to the mobile dimension to toil in shame, a fate worse than death. That is until 2014 when death would come for the studio and they were shut down by Disney. Another victim to the deadly grip of high coporate video game publishing companies. Alexander would go on to form a new company, Industrial Toys, which focuses on mobile games. They are currently owned by Electronic Arts… oooh, this poor guy just can’t catch a break. But anyway, we’re here for Stubbs. A sequel for Stubbs the Zombie was planned, but sadly, due to the closure of Wideload, that dream was snuffed out and Stubbs the Zombie was quickly lost to time… Until! Fast forward to the post-apocalyptic year of 2021, A Nintendo Direct is shown, a simple one that most people check in to see what new stuff is coming to the Switch, until Stubbs the Zombie appears. Now with updates fixing technical issues and free of any slowdown or glitches, the world responded with a resounding, “oh… neat”. Aspyr Media Inc. was the original publisher for Stubbs the Zombie and seemed to hold the rights. They are known for publishing many games, like the Star Wars: Jedi Knights games and as recently as Layers of Fear, the worst horror game franchise ever. And so, with Stubbs now on modern consoles, like Switch, PS4 and Xbox One, how could I refuse but to check it out. I always saw this game back in my teen years and thought it was really cool. I was big into zombies at the time thanks to playing Dead Rising and watching a ton of George Romero movies at the time, so this game appealed to me. We were so used to killing and maiming zombies by this point, unaware that it would get way worse as years went on. Now you play as the zombie. So let's see what makes Stubbs the Zombie stick out from your average walking disease ridden insult to science.
So Stubbs the Zombie sees us play as the ever charismatic undead salesman, Stubbs. After rising up from the ground one day in the futuristic city of Punchbowl, he begins a citywide attack on the citizens of the town, devouring the brains of everyone he sees and getting into scuffles with the cities police, SWAT force, hillbillies, military, underground scientists, barbershop singers with jetpacks, and more. Yeah, the game is kinda weird. It’s set in this sort of future that you would see in the 1950s, their own idea of the future, with tons of smooth corners with buildings arching across the sky, monorails that speed across the city at lightning speed, laser guns, robots that greet people, all ending in total chaos as these dirty green men with rotted brains devour the living and ending in the city being destroyed by nukes. So, yes. This is a better Fallout spinfall than Fallout 76. The game starts out simple enough, of course. You just start eating civilians, tearing off their arms, their legs, smashing their heads in, and watching as Stubbs gains a following of braindead, brain thirsty brainletts. They aren’t really that smart, obviously, shamblin’ around wherever you go, and you only help them by shoving them, whistling for them to follow, kicking them around, slapping the taste out of them. But there’s something fun about just going off to do some stuff, only to come back to see your horde of zombies having already taken care of a good chunk of scared shitless police as they slowly outnumber them. This game gets the proper zombie mentality. Zombies aren’t scary because they are smart or creepy. They’re just dumbass people with rotted skin. No, they’re scary because they are endless. They don’t stop until they are just chunks, and they are a threat in numbers, and there is always more to come. So seeing that from the side of the zombies, just watching your army of undead greasers, jocks and girls in poodle skirts kinda gives me a sickening glee.
But it’s not all just feasting on the peanut sized brains of 50s ideology. Before long, the swat come in, who can’t be eaten cause of the helmets. And before long, the military, who can’t be eaten and also have guns. The game slowly starts to increase in challenge, some would say to an unfair degree, but that’s how you fight off zombies. It’s a hard life for Stubbs, but that’s where the arsenal of weapons come in. You get a ton of stuff that works in your favor. You got pancreas bombs that you can throw to take out a good set of enemies from a range. You got a hand that can control the minds of enemies that can then shoot other guys for you so you get more distance with your projectiles, assuming you can get to them. You can tear your head off and toss it like a bowling ball to destroy a group of enemies before it explodes to cause more chaos. And my personal favorite, farting. Farting is your first attack and probably the most useful in my opinion. This attack won’t kill enemies, but it stuns them for a long time. And you can stun enemies late in the game with them, which helps a lot since they can overwhelm you. And when you need more zombies, this helps you get some. You can’t just run up to a group of enemies to attack them. You’re not Kratos: The Dragon Fucker, in Theaters never. Your Stubbs The Undead Dumbass. You run up to a group of 50s police officers with your skin looking anything but white, you better expect an ass beating. But with a dozen more poc maneaters, you can overwhelm the greatest of armies. This ain’t Pikmin. Stubbs is not gonna hang back like some loser. He joins in the fray. And he fucking farts on them, like a real man.
But thankfully, the game isn’t all eating people of increasing difficulty. You get tons of gameplay variety to try out in the game. There’s the introduction of the possession mechanic, where you get to explore a lab with just the hand before taking over a cop and gunning down the entire police station in an actually kind of creepy fashion that may or may not hold up well in modern America. There’s the minigame where you gotta hold down a position at the water supply while you take a piss in it. There’s the Sob-O-Matic car that you can drive. Also, you can drive in this game. And being made on the Halo Engine, it’s really just driving around in the Warthog. And the tank, too. Yeah, you get to pilot a tank while shooting at soldiers at their last line of defense while a barbershop song plays in the background. It’s all good fun. And my personal favorite minigame, you face the police chief that challenges you to a dance off that you just… partake in. Yeah, fuck it. Stubbs ain’t exactly got time to worry about, let’s have some fun. You just play Simon Says while you listen to covers of old 50s songs. And that said, why does the soundtrack go this hard?! The soundtrack is made up of classic songs from the era, all covered by modern bands. Well, modern at the time. The Raveonettes, Cake, Rose Hill Drive, Death Cab for Cutie, The Flaming Lips, Oranger. Sure, the average TikTok watching child won’t know these bands, but in the 90s and 2000s, these bands were pretty big, so this new wave post punk sound is actually pretty cool for a hipster faggot like myself.
Though with variety in the gameplay does come some stinkers. Like I really hate this part where you gotta summon a bunch of zombies to tear down the wall while you have to survive an onslaught of soldiers, some with rocket launchers. It gets really tiring after a while. And some of the bosses get really obnoxious, like the fight with the Nazi doctor and lead scientist for the creation of Punchbowl. Which is both a really funny piece of satire and also a great commentary on how America actually hired ex-Nazi scientists to aid them for political support, regardless of the moral ambiguity that it would cause… So this fight isn’t fun. You gotta push buttons and hope that his laser gun doesn’t sap your health in seconds. At worst, it’s really annoying. At best, it’s like a dull sixty seconds. But thankfully, the gameplay is more fun and creative throughout to where it doesn't dull the senses. No, my biggest issue comes from the modern ports crashing every two hours. Yeah, I had the game crash on me at least twice in this five hour playtime of the game. Sheesh, if this is the definitive version, I’d hate to see what the original Xbox version was. But thankfully, the game saves often, so it’s not too bad. Just gotta get over that and the difficulty spikes near the end. I tell you, I died so much that I really started to see the Halo Engine in the death animation. Like the near instant cut back to the checkpoint, the way Stubbs flails his arms when he dies. I played a lot of Halo as a kid, so I only see Master Chief flying after a plasma grenade goes off.
But like I said, the game is a simple bit of fun that is riddled with charm. And speaking of charm, I think Stubbs is a great character. He’s no top 100 greatest characters that could kick your ass and fuck your wife, but he’s pretty charming for a guy with a hole in his gut. He’s a dapper dude, dressing with that hat and suit and tie and even heart shaped underwear. He’s got a lot of charm to him, riding sheeps all the way to the dam, giving a convincing speech that is just made up of the word “Brains”, and just wanting to get with this living woman anyway he can. He’s a sick dancer, he’s a charmer, he’s not much of a talker but he sure does love to meet new people, A natural born leader, a good head on his shoulders, and he is a casual smoker. Even smokes in the grave. Come on, how can you hate a face like that. I’d be down to join his cause.
Stubbs the Zombie is a fun little 5 hour rompt that has a good bit of charm, a lot of creativity to it, humor that is actually funny unlike the “Wow, that’s weird. That wouldn’t happen in the real world, am I right, gamers?” lowbrow trash comedy that we see in games today, and it’s just a fun time. The modern ports add some challenges in the form of the sinful format called Achievements, but they do add more replay value since the original game kinda had… none? And the game is on modern consoles for only $20. When Sony or Nintendo either hate old games and call them a caveman’s tool or sell them at full price for a limited time before tossing them back into the Disney Vault, third party developers keep the old games alive and well. And speaking of Disney, don’t forget the company that made this game was bought and owned by Disney. So yes, Stubbs is the best Disney princess.
Award: Simple But Clean. This game isn’t going to blow your load with anything too crazy, but it’s just a fun short experience with a fun story, a fun main character, a fun ton of exploitative gore and violence, and just a fun use of the Halo Engine. Stubbs may not be the Halo Killer, but he killed it with a classic like this.