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Stubbs the Zombie

Stubbs the Zombie's writer Matt Soell tells us about things to do in Punchbowl, Pennsylvania when you're undead

Be the zombie in Wideload Games' humorous adventure Stubbs the Zombie - a title that finds players slipping into undead flesh and running amok in fictional city Punchbowl, Pennsylvania. It's in development for PC, Xbox and, unusually, Mac.

Star of the game Stubbs cracks gags, eats brains and duffs up evil with his own decomposing body parts and weapons of possessed enemies in the city. It's all rather tongue-in-cheek, a fine example of which is Stubbs's ability to "Spread Zombie Love", as the developer puts it, which he can do by "eating the brains of your enemies and adding them to your own personal zombie horde". Nice.

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We recently caught up with writer on the game Matt Soell to find out more on, among other things, unholy flatulence and lethal zombie snot.

What's the premise behind Stubbs the Zombie, and could you tell us a little more about the storyline?

Soell: In the 1930s, Stubbs was a salesman trying to eke out a living during the lowest ebb of the Great Depression. Then someone murdered him and dumped him in a shallow grave in the Pennsylvania countryside, where he spent the next twenty-odd years. Now it's 1959 and Stubbs is back - hungry for truth, justice, and fresh human brains. Oh, and eternal love.

While he was away, so to speak, a billionaire named Andrew Monday built a city on top of his grave. Not just any city, but a futuristic metropolis - as futuristic as it gets in 1959 anyway.

So you have a rich man who's just built the perfect city, and a dead man who's tired of being pushed around. The dead man wakes up in the middle of the city. Then things get weird.

How did you come up with the idea for Stubbs the character? What makes him special?

Soell: It wasn't an involved process. All of us were individually trying to think of game ideas, and while I was racking my brain I hit upon the idea of doing a zombie game where the zombies are the heroes and humanity is the enemy, and your job is to conquer a city by 'zombifying' the populace. I figured it wouldn't be anything special if you accomplished this by running around shooting everything, so I thought, "Let's make his body the primary weapon - and maybe give him the ability to possess the living so he can use their weapons and abilities in certain circumstances." Well, how do you do that? Having the zombie clamp his own severed hand onto somebody's skull seemed like a fun way.

So when I sat down to write up the idea for the other guys, the first question I asked myself was "What's a good name for a dead guy who likes to tear off his own limbs?" It just seemed natural to call him Stubbs. The rest of his character and back story fell into place pretty quickly after that.

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Apart from his roster of odd bodily functions and tricks, I think Stubbs is unusual because he's still got some personality and soul. He's a little smarter than the average zombie - and (dare I say it?) maybe a little more sensitive too. At heart he's a big softie - as soft as the brains that make up his diet.

What can we get up to as Stubbs? What kind of powers and abilities does he have and how do they affect gameplay?

Soell: Perhaps the most obvious ability is that of converting your enemies into zombie allies. Eat a brain, make a friend. Eat a lot of brains and you'll make a lot of friends. Friends who will take a bullet for you - several bullets, actually. Friends who will help you swarm enemies you couldn't handle alone. Good friends to have.

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