Developed by LucasArts (Lucas Film)
With beautiful games like 'Journey' and 'Ico' there a strong case for games to be considered art. When the stories told in 'The Last of Us', 'Steins;Gate', 'Silent Hill 2' and 'Brothers : A Tale of Two Sons' can move and captivate an audience, few could argue that games can't tell engaging thought provoking narratives. However, fewer will as easily subscribe to the idea that games are amusing. Not funny in a "laugh at the failings of the game" or "chuckle at a player unable to progress beyond an easy part" way. Videogames can be amusing simply by telling funny stories and by presenting amusing situations or spectacles. Indeed, in my youth, I laughed more at the LucasArts adventure games than I ever did at TV comedies, so much so I still shamelessly recycle jokes from the games today.
As Ebert remembers, the pair was generally left to their own devices. "We had offices that were very far from management and the heart of LucasArts. We worked and slept in the offices a lot, and people left us alone. I think they were scared of us, because we didn't always shave." With a degree of creative freedom, Ebert and Streicher were able to peruse their own interests. "We found time to work on original new projects in our free time after work" admits Steicher. "We wanted to design and build new games that were more action-oriented and had a graphical user-interface, since the UI of the story games back then only consisted of words." It was a creative climate but one steered by a reliable guiding hand. "Ron Gilbert really drove us to make the best game possible" laments Ebert, "I learned a lot about design from Ron."
"The scenario is a clever pastiche of all the horror movies you've ever seen" reported Super Play magazine. "You've got to rescue innocent people from vampires Martian abductors, giant ants and Mushroom Men. From supernatural Hammer ham efforts to the rubber suited alien invasion shockers of the McCarthyite era. In fact part of the fun of 'Zombies' lies in sporting the genre references." It was familiar ground for the developer and according to "Rouge Leaders: The Story of LucasArts" 'Zombies ate my Neighbors' "continued the hallmark of a [LucasArts] games, bringing an original art style and plenty of humor. Testing fresh properties, characters and game mechanics". Given the developer, comedy is almost a prerequisite. "Jokes and pop-culture references are so fun in games" notes Ebert. "LucasArts had a very good legal team that let us know exactly how far we could push the parody. That legal support really was important to let us go all out and poke fun at everything."
'Day of the Tentacle' over in “A building” while Mike Ebert and Kalani Streicher were making Zombies Ate My Neighbors over in “B Building.” They grabbed the art for Oozo the clown to use in ‘Zombies’." 'Rouge Leaders: The Story of LucasArts' describes the unique and quirky final level of the game. "The credit level is a reproduction of the LucasArts offices with numerous employees portrayed as characters who introduce themselves to the player; even George Lucas can be found front door welcoming players. '['Zombies'] also includes a self referential level called 'Day of the Tentacle'."
The game was published by Konami and their budget restraints mean that a save feature wasn't possible. Consequently LucasArts were forced to reluctantly use a password system. Designer Ebert knew that it was going to be a compromise as the only thing a game password would record was the number of neighbours remaining and the level number. Despite resource management being so important, the password system didn't have the flexibility to note which weapons you had reserved. Continuing from password made the difficult game even harder, as a player’s armoury was reset. "If we could have afforded the battery on the cartridge we would have saved it all for you! The password to save all the weapons you had would have been too long, so we decided that about every four levels we'd at least make it somewhat feasible that you could restart from that location."