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E3 2011: Pet Zombies hands-on preview – undead Nintendogs, anyone?

We honestly consider it fascinating how nerd culture’s love of zombies has bled over into the mainstream. These shambling meat sacks now appear in television, movies and about 40% of the new shooters at E3. They all seem to revolve around “grab shotgun - kill zombie.” However, we also wonder what piece of pop/consumer-culture will truly tip this zombie-mania into the oversaturation point. Well, it looks like we have our answer - Pet Zombies on the Nintendo 3DS.

We really can’t think of any other way to describe it: It’s basically Nintendogs with zombies. There’s no story or plot to speak of; you just take care of some rotting corpse. Our particular zombie wore a tattered prom dress and wandered around a graveyard occasionally coming closer to the screen to check us out. Just like in Nintendogs, you can nurture your pet by feeding it (brains, body parts and toxic sludge, obviously), grooming it or playing with the zombie using various toys. Unlike other pet simulators, you can also torture the zombie mercilessly with tasers, flamethrowers and shock collars, among other devices. Our zombie-killing instincts took over and we attacked the beast relentlessly for a couple of minutes, but we eventually calmed down and started feeding it brains. Our prom-queen zombie turned out to be quite friendly once we got to know her.

Just as you would expect in a pet sim, your zombie will behave according to how you treat it. If you’re a nice nurturing zombie-parent, your little zombie will turn into a benign, friendly sort of monster. If you’re a creepy sadist who relishes in the suffering of the helpless undead, the zombie will turn vicious and feral. The game has no multiplayer function, which is sad because it would’ve been neat to see how two different types of zombies would react to one another; however, there is a StreetPass function programmed into the game where players can trade off items they’ve unlocked.

According to the exhibitionist, the development team is going for a Teen rating and will be releasing around Halloween of this year. Pet Zombies has a big focus on dark humor, and to be honest, we were having a hard time not laughing at its ridiculous shenanigans. The zombies’ reactions to everything we did, whether we were setting it on fire or feeding it a brain, were goofy and funny. While we still hold that this is taking the zombie-craze to a ridiculous level, we really can’t be all that cynical about it. This is definitely a charming little game.

Jun 15, 2011

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E3

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