Format reviewed: Atari ST
Submitted by: Dave Skillin
Apart from being the first game released by the fledgling French publisher UBI-Soft, Zombi is notable for being from a time where “unofficial” movie tie-ins weren't considered important enough to take legal action over. Zombi is the name by which George Romero's 1978 cinematic gore-fest Dawn of the Dead is known in Europe, and the game takes the movie's premise and changes very little.
The game begins at the point in the movie where the four main characters arrive by helicopter at a shopping mall. If it isn't obvious from the title, the world is under siege from a zombie plague, and our heroes are seeking refuge. Upon arrival, their goal is to secure the shopping mall and hole up until the dead decide to lie down again.
The game is a first-person Dungeon Master-style trek through the mall, with everything controlled by the mouse. Characters may be switched at will, but making sure the inactive ones are in a safe place before choosing another would be a smart move. There's little difference between the four protagonists, other than Alexandre is the only one capable of piloting the helicopter, and the token female Sylvie can't use a gun for unexplained reasons (pacifism?)
Zombi is fairly straightforward and not terribly deep; fans of the movie will progress pretty quickly, and it can be completed in about an hour once you know what to do. However, this kind of horror scenario wasn't very common back in 1990, and it was pretty entertaining at the time.
Based on some strong reviews for the Spectrum version, Zombi was the second game I bought for my shiny new Atari ST. The manual came with a cartoon-strip prologue that looked like it was sketched on a napkin during lunch; not something you'd see too often these days.