For his latest Iwata Asks interview, Nintendo president, Satoru Iwata, travelled to Paris to meet with the developers of ZombiU at Ubisoft. ZombiU, developed by Ubisoft Montpellier (Beyond Good & Evil, Rayman Origins and Legends), started out as an entirely different game, titled Killer Freaks From Outer Space.
The Killer Freaks concept was a first-person shooter originally demonstrated at E3 2011, and it featured aliens that were more grotesque versions of Ubisoft’s Rabbid characters.
“One of the jokes we had on the team was that we knew that the Rabbids and the scream they make can really annoy some people,” says ZombiU producer, Guillaume Brunier. “So the idea we had was to give players the opportunity to really trash and destroy the Rabbids.”
Unfortunately, the Killer Freaks concept, by virtue of being a fast-paced first-person shooter, made it difficult for players to constantly switch their attention between the TV and Wii U GamePad. As a result of this hurdle, the concept was overhauled entirely to create ZombiU. Aliens were replaced by slower-moving zombies, and the Wii U GamePad turned into a “survival horror kit” that existed in the real world, in the hands of the player.
In ZombiU, the Wii U GamePad can be used as a telephone, as a map, to scan items, to enter passwords and more. Additionally, the GamePad also has speakers built into it, which allowed the development team to have sound coming out of it while players read text on the GamePad screen. During multiplayer games, one player plays on the TV while another uses the Wii U GamePad to place zombies around the map to try and kill him.
Since Ubisoft’s main headquarters are based in Paris, Iwata also asked why ZombiU is set in London, instead of Ubisoft’s home. The reason for this, it turns out, is because London has both a modern and medieval look to it, which made it a more interesting setting. At the same time, London was also home to Jack the Ripper and, more recently, was on people’s minds due to the Olympics.
Ubisoft also reveal that they weren’t sure if ZombiU’s Survival mode could even be completed until two or three days before the game was done. In the game’s regular mode, each time you die, your player character is turned into a zombie and you inhabit another character instead, and keep playing the game. In Survival mode, you only get one life, and if you die, it’s game over.
ZombiU is available for the Wii U in North America now, and will be released in Europe on November 30th. A Europe-exclusive Wii U bundle will include the game, a premium Wii U set, and a Wii U Pro Controller.