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Latest Iwata Asks Episode Reveals How Killer Freaks Became ZombiU

Posted by Andy Green

From hyperactive alien Rabbids to slow lumbering zombies

During E3 back in 2011 Ubisoft revealed a trailer for a Wii U exclusive game known as Killer Freaks from Outer Space. The game looked to be a light-hearted survival horror game that featured strange intergalactic creatures that were hell bent on consuming every living being in their path.

Killer Freaks has moved on quite a bit since then; it still has the survival horror element but the enemies aren’t from space at all - in fact, they’re zombies. For those who are unaware, Killer Freaks is now known as ZombiU and it certainly has come a long way since 2011.

In the latest Iwata Asks, President of Nintendo Satoru Iwata sat down with the team who made ZombiU and asked them about how Killer Freaks evolved into ZombiU in such a relatively short space of time.

Xavier Poix, managing director at Ubisoft Paris, Annecy and Montpellier, explained that they had many early prototypes for the game, each one trying to get the most out of the GamePad’s extra screen, speakers and gyroscope. The team found that the more they experimented with the two screens, the more they wanted to move away from a fast paced gaming experience found in many other first person shooters.

The alien monsters found in Killer Freaks were just too fast so the team set about making a game that would “create an experience that’s just as thrilling, despite not placing an emphasis on speed”.

We understood early in development that the player couldn’t look at both screens at the same time and so we needed to give them time to enjoy the two screens. Early on, we thought that maybe we could have players use the Wii U GamePad in a more strategic way. Basically, that meant the player would create a strategy on the Wii U GamePad and when they carry it out the action will happen on the TV screen. This was our basic concept.

We tried it out with Killer Freaks, but the enemies moved too quickly and it wasn't really possible to go back and forth between the two screens. You were only able to use the Wii U GamePad when you were safe and hidden from the action.

So Ubisoft Montpellier set about looking for an enemy that was still terrifying but moved slowly. It didn't take them long to decide on zombies.

The new undead enemies made perfect sense as the team started to develop a new kind of slow-paced first person shooter that took full advantage of the GamePad - as Guillaume Brunier, the game’s producer, explained:

What we did was make it so that when you are looking through your backpack on the Wii U GamePad, the perspective on the TV screen changes from first-person to showing your character on the screen. This meant that you had some time to do whatever you needed to do on the Wii U GamePad while still paying attention to what was happening around you.

As we already knew the bizarre little creatures in Killer Freaks were in fact warped versions of Rabbids. Brunier says the idea was “to give players the opportunity to really trash and destroy the Rabbids”. Maybe that wasn't such a bad idea, actually.

ZombiU is available right now in North America and will be this coming Friday in Europe. Check out what we thought of the game in our ZombiU review.

Do you think the slow paced Zombies were a better option than those hyperactive alien Rabbids? Have your say in the comments section below.

[via nintendo.co.uk]

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User Comments (35)

Xilef

#1

Xilef said:

Still think Ubisoft deserces major props for having so much faith in Nintendo and putting so much time and effort into ZombiU (even if the game got a bit mixed reviews).

OracleOfTruth

#2

OracleOfTruth said:

If left as originally intended, it sounds like it would have been a combination of Rabbids and B-Movies in a video game. How odd...

Lunapplebloom

#3

Lunapplebloom said:

Interesting read. Makes sense for it to be a slower pace, considering you can only look at one screen at a time. I wish they would have stuck with those rabbids like things even so though. I wanted to take them out for all of their over exposure.

edcomics

#5

edcomics said:

I'm just so tired of the zombie thing. It's been mainstream for so long now that I'm actually shocked that anyone cares anymore. Since this game is a zombie game, I won't even consider the purchase. If it had remained a sort of quirky, Mars Attacks kind of experience, I probably would have jumped on board.

Saying the reason for substituting zombies is the speed factor makes little to no sense, considering we've seen faster and faster zombies on the big screen over the past ten years. "Zombie" doesn't automatically mean "slow" anymore, and there's no reason you couldn't just have large alien freaks that move slowly. So it must be a cheap appeal to a built-in fanbase that will eat up anything with zombies in it. I don't mean to knock zombie lovers, but I just see this as a wasted opportunity to do something a little different.

Luigifan141

#6

Luigifan141 said:

The alien Rabbids would have been a lot more funny and original than using the generic zombies seen in the final game. Plus, IMO, "Killer Freaks from Outer Space" is a much better title than "ZombiU".

GN0LAUM

#7

GN0LAUM said:

@edcomics
You should really play ZombiU before you outright decide it isn't for you. When the demo is released I encourage you to give it a go. I could care less about zombie's personally, and they've even deterred me from being enthusiastic about this very game, but I saw what the dev team was going for in terms of play mechanics and I couldn't resist. ZombiU is the first "zombie" game I have ever owned, but I love it to pieces. Truly an engaging, tense and thoroughly thrilling experience. It is also (currently) unique- it has provided me with gameplay that I have never before experienced. For that reason alone, it ought to be at least demo'd.

Ryno

#8

Ryno said:

So, what I take from this is Ubisoft doesn't think fast paced games are going to work with the GamePad?

SMW

#9

SMW said:

I still want to see the killer freaks return in their own game. Switching to zombies really killed some of the charm.

DerpSandwich

#10

DerpSandwich said:

It could have been just another shooter, but they turned it into something unique. And I think that's awesome.

krunchykhaos

#12

krunchykhaos said:

For a launch title exclusive ubisoft did a LOT with hardware not very well understood outside of nintendos developers. Given time, and zombiu shows this, the wiiu will prove itself. I sure hope aliens plays as well as gearbox suggests.

PinkSpider

#13

PinkSpider said:

Correction just watched the old videos man they were bad, however i just watched a mulit player video of it and its exactly the same as whats in zombie u now

MrWalkieTalkie

#14

MrWalkieTalkie said:

ZombiU is cool and all, but I want Killer Freaks! It was cool to step out of line and do something different, but unfortunately we live in a society that obsesses a bit too much over zombies... :/

Rect_Pola

#15

Rect_Pola said:

@Xilef As I understand it, the "mixed" was more wanting/expecting a typical first person shooter that the game they made was bad.

Abcdude

#16

Abcdude said:

Giant mutant rabbids that you can shoot in the face turned into a zombie game

Where did you go wrong ubi

Pierceton

#18

Pierceton said:

I would have loved to play Killer Freaks it looked like such a different kind of FPS I really wish that Ubisoft would just go ahead and make it as well even if it was just downloadable that game has a lot of buzz behind it.

Bulbousaur

#19

Bulbousaur said:

I think they should pick up the whole Killer Freaks idea later, maybe as a multiplat arcade-like shooter?

tardis10

#20

tardis10 said:

Between them, Capcom and Ubisoft have done a lot for Nintendo, with the Resident Evil series and the Rayman games, respectively, really bolstering the last handful of the Big N's consoles, both at launch, and throughout their lifespan.
Rayman Raving Rabbids, I seem to remember, was a highlight of the Wii's launch line-up, with Resident Evil 4 and other series titles proving part of the console's best quality software to date.
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries and Super Street Fighter IV practically headlined the 3DS's launch, with a lacklustre port of a Rayman title attempting something similar, and, of course, the much needed boost of a (used to be) exclusive Resident Evil: Revelations, which was, in my opinion, the best Resident Evil since the original.
Now we have the two developers, once again, playing important parts in the launch of the Wii U - with the bold, exclusive ZombiU and the perfectly adapted Rayman Legends - so that Nintendo can rely on them to demonstrate hardware potential.

TheDreamingHawk

#22

TheDreamingHawk said:

Killer freaks is WAY better... And why the heck they had to choose ZOMBIES? Those have been abused for years now, how about some killer Birds or sharks or something.

TruenoGT

#24

TruenoGT said:

It's smart they're doing a demo. I'm tired of the zombie theme, but I'm interested in seeing what the hub-bub's about even if I stylistically would have preferred a crazy alien theme.

TruenoGT

#25

TruenoGT said:

Also I'm glad Nintendo didn't encourage them to turn it into a Star Fox game. :)

grimbldoo

#27

grimbldoo said:

Clover Field, Metal Gear Solid, Rabids, Dead Space...It would have been an interesting game.

grimbldoo

#28

grimbldoo said:

@edcomics #5
Have you seen anything of ZombieU? It's a realistic game, and realistically Zombies would be slow. Realistically, they wouldn't be able to walk after a few days.

@SMW #9
You can't really said it killed the charm, its almost not even related.

@Abcdude #16
Articles are there for you to read...do you know what that is?

@TheDreamingHawk #22
Did you read the article?

chiptoon

#29

chiptoon said:

Really looking forward the playing ZombiU, but I also preferred the Killer Freaks. They could have just slowed them down.

SigourneyBeaver

#30

SigourneyBeaver said:

"We understood early in development that the player couldn’t look at both screens at the same time..."

Really, Ubisoft?

Dogpigfish

#32

Dogpigfish said:

Not trying to discredit ubi, but black ops 2 has a full fledged zombi game and its only a third of the packaged content. It's kind of hard to justify the cash.

ElMastero

#33

ElMastero said:

Well it's been popular in some games to have a Zombie themed DLC. So it would be cool if the good folks that brought us Zombie U would instead come out with an Alien themed DLC.

FonistofCruxis

#34

FonistofCruxis said:

I was more interested in Killer freaks than ZombiU. I'm not completely sure that I would have got KiIler freaks but I might have and I can't see myself getting ZombiU. It may make very good use of the gamepad but it doesn't seem too have much personality and Killer freaks did. I would have liked to blast those annoying rabbids to bits.

diim

#35

diim said:

Nice, I would still like to see Killer Freaks From Outer Space made for the WiiU. It seems freakish.

I love it!!

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