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The Walking Dead Zombie Hunter

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The Walking Dead Zombie Hunter was made in 2012 by Supper Happy Fun Fun as Merge Interactive. It is a Plug n Play device and was published by Jakks Pacific. It is themed after a TV series which is itself based after a comic series all with the same name. The Walking Dead takes place in a post apocalyptic North America after a zombie outbreak occurred.

The gun consists of two parts which are stacked together. The build quality is good and the gun doesn't feel cheap. An infra red light source is placed at the TV in order to allow the gun to measure in which direction it is pointed. The tracking works similar as the tracking at a Nintendo Wii. The gun contains the gaming system itself and is plugged into the TV via RCA connectors, transmitting composite video. The system is powered by four AA cells and the light source by three AAA cells.

The gun lacks a rear sight. The player is supposed to shift a cross hair on the screen from the hip. Sadly the calibration screen at the beginning of the game is fake and doesn't calibrate anything. It is just a tutorial segment teaching the player how to shift the cursor onto a target and fire.

The game consists of a story mode and a survival mode. These modes enfold over seven levels. After beating a level in story mode, it can be freely selected in the so called free play mode. In the game's story the player escapes from a forest and finds another survivor called Glenn, after talking to him via a found Walkie-Talkie. The new team goes to Atlanta in the hope that it resisted the outbreak. However the town is infected as well. After an attempt of collecting supplies dropped by the army Glenn gets separated from the player who escapes alone from the city.

The player uses a range of different weapons all with different characteristics. The light gun is reloaded by actuating the pump action. Weapons, medi packs and ammunition are found in crates or are left after a civilian is rescued. Killing a civilian will yield in a score punishment. Every level provides a special bonus challenge which yields in extra points upon fulfillment.

In the manual and in the game it is stated that the zombies just can be killed by shooting them into their heads. However every zombie can be killed by every weapon by shooting repeatedly on any body part. Another flaw is that the gun can't be reloaded if the game is loading. This is rather cumbersome as the game does plenty of loading during game play. Furthermore the game feels rushed as some cut scenes are very hard to understand and seem to be unintentional leftovers of removed content.

Personally I am very disappointed of the game's fake calibration screen. In episode 44 I interviewed a developer and was told that the calibration was left out intentionally because of a misunderstanding inside the company. I think the game would have been quite decent if the calibration was in place. I am wondering about the target audience of this ESRB T rated game, as I guess that a normal 13 years plus aged kid would be underwhelmed. I am sure the game would be fun for kids, but the setting and story are probably not suited for those. The game is rather easy and can be further simplified by a selectable auto reload function. Therefore I think the target audience of this plug and play system is casual playing teens, who have very few experiences in video games otherwise.

The packaging is well made and looks interesting. As usually Jakks Pacific makes a fool of themselves by showing the montage of a TV with just two instead of three RCA sockets at the video input.