I bet not a whole lot of you know about this Xbox game known as Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse. It was originally released on the original Xbox back in 2003, and was the first game made by the developer Wideload Games. Even though this game got positive reviews, it got limited marketing because of some needless controversy that made some people think that this game promoted cannibalism. If you can look past that stupidity, you’ve got one of the most creative games on the original Xbox. Heck, this game was made by the same people who made Guilty Party , a hidden gem for the Wii that we can talk about at a later date. So, here we are with a game that had a wildly creative idea, a good sense of humor, and even a soundtrack that included bands like Death Cab for Cutie. So, how does this game hold up today? Well, you should read on to find out. Grab your best zombified pair of clothes and get a taste for brains, this is Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse.
The story starts out with a guy named Eddie Stubbs. He is a poor salesman during the depression. He finds some solace in a woman that he loves named Maggie Monday, but unfortunately, Maggie’s father, Otis, doesn’t really care for her taste in guys. So, how does this dad deal with this issue? He takes Eddie out into the forest and shoots him. You know, like how every dad deals with their daughter dating a guy. Anyway, the story picks up, and chronologically starts in the year of 1959 where a new city called Punchbowl has been built over the forest where Eddie was killed. Eddie then rises from the ground, not as Eddie Stubbs, but as Stubbs the Zombie! He must now cause havoc, eat brains, and find Maggie Monday while everyone tries to take him down. The story might not be the strongest in the world, but it has a lot of good humor thrown in and an interesting plot twist here and there. The story does what it needs to do, and that is to be humorous and carry you from level to level.
Stubbs the Zombie is an action game. You will be going around a sci-fi grindhouse version of the 1950s eating people, driving vehicles, and causing chaos as a zombie patrolling the streets. Your main goal is to basically get to the end of the level while the humans, who think they can stop you, try to stop you. You, of course, can swipe at them and eat their brains, but you have a couple of other abilities added to give variety to combat. Your other abilities include you throwing your intestines as bombs, using an area of effect gas attack, using your hand to possess humans, and using your head as a rolling bomb. The developer also threw in a couple of other game mechanics into the mix, like vehicle driving, and even a Simon Says-style dance-off. By the way, each time you eat someone’s brain, they will become a zombie and will follow you throughout the level. You can even shove them in the right direction or call on them if they don’t know where to go. This makes tackling gun-wielding enemies easier when you overwhelm them with zombies. The overall game will take you about 4-5 hours. There are multiple difficulties and even a co-op multiplayer mode.
The game’s graphics won’t really scream “high quality” original Xbox graphics, but they get the job done. At least the humans and the zombies are animated smoothly, and I didn’t experience any slowdown when I was playing the game. The levels are big, and with the variety in gameplay thrown into the combat and the different kind of enemies you will be encountering, it never got super boring. The voice work is cheesy, but I feel like it’s intentional. Usually I like to point out the voice actors in a game, but I didn’t really find anyone that noteworthy to talk about. I did like Stubbs’ voice actor, Matt Soell though. He has a lot of personality, even though he can’t speak English. The music is the best part of this game’s presentation. All the songs are, of course, from the 50s, but they are all covered by indie rock bands like Death Cab for Cutie, Oranger, Ben Kweller, and Rose Hill Dive just to name a few of the bands. It is easily worth checking out the soundtrack.
So, what is wrong with this game? Well, for one, the game has no music during the gameplay! So wait, I just told you guys that the game has an awesome soundtrack, but the music doesn’t play during the gameplay. Well, yeah. It’s kind of weird to have a bunch of indie rock bands for your soundtrack, but not play the music while you are going around eating brains. They only play the music in certain areas, and that’s a shame. It made the levels too quiet, and it almost made going through the levels boring. I also think the levels, at times, are too big, and I got turned around a couple of times while going through them. The game’s camera isn’t a big issue until you use the hand-possession ability where you crawl around and then take over someone’s brain. It’s the same issue you see in a lot of Spider-Man games when you try to climb up the wall and onto the ceiling, and the camera doesn’t know what to do.
Final Verdict: Mmm.....Brains.....
Overall, Stubbs the Zombie is a hidden gem for the original Xbox. You can get a PC and Mac version of the game, but the Xbox version is the one to get. Unfortunately, since this game is a cult classic, and had limited sales, the game can go for up to $30-$50, and I just don’t think it’s worth it for that amount. If you can get it or the $15-$20 price range, I would highly recommend doing so. This game came out in the console generation where creativity took a bit of a nosedive when developers thought they couldn’t be risky and creative with the games they made. I hope we can get a sequel to Stubbs the Zombie because I think it has a lot of untapped potential in terms of mixing up different kinds of gameplay and giving us a unique experience. This is definitely one zombie worth doing Thriller with.