STAFF REVIEW of Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse (Xbox One)

Monday, April 12, 2021.
by Chad Goodmurphy

Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse Box art Most of the gaming I did during the PlayStation 2/GameCube/Xbox generation came from the former system, as it’s all I had for most of those years. I eventually bought a GameCube later on but didn’t acquire an original Xbox until right about when the Xbox 360 was due to come out. Thus, a lot of time wasn’t spent with it. I did, however, try to play the games I was most interested in (and jealous of), including one particular exclusive: Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse.

Now, more than fifteen years later, the flatulent undead and his fifties themed adventure are back in remastered form. Don’t get it confused with a remake, or a very intensive remastering, because it’s not. A lot of the old jank remains, and things have merely been touched up just about enough.

If you’ve never heard or of played it, Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse is a quirky and unique game in which you actually get to play as the shambling corpse. It all takes place in a futuristic and supposedly idyllic American city called Punchbowl, which was made to look and feel futuristic despite it being the 1950s. The billionaire behind it all went so far as to build robots, floating vehicles, futuristic housing and what someone from the 50s would think an urban downtown would look like in the year 2000s. Despite all of this, Punchbowl still retains a fifties look and charm, complete with black and white video screens, suits and fedoras and a lot of politeness.

On the day of the city’s opening ceremony, two college students are necking in a park when something stirs beneath them. All of a sudden, an ugly green hand appears out of the ground and a strange looking man crawls out after it. Afraid but machismo to a fault, the young man threatens the zombie and suffers the consequences before turning into one himself. Thus begins the reign of terror called Stubbs the Zombie.

As it was back in 2005, Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse Remastered is a janky, comical, corny and unique third-person action game. Players stumble along as the rather slow and dull witted zombie, causing mayhem as they go. What type of mayhem you’ll cause generally pertains to the level, but a lot of it involves eating brains and creating an army to do your bidding. There’s more, though, including driving a poop flinging hovercraft, assaulting robots, chasing special targets and doing disgusting things. By that I mean throwing your exploding spleen at people, or stunning them with a rancid fart cloud. Hell, you can even detach your hand and scurry around with it in order to do something nefarious or get out of sticky situations.

Needless to say this is a quirky game that won’t be for everyone, which is added to by the fact that it’s still pretty dated. In my case that meant a trip back in time to better days and a (healthy and saddening) dose of nostalgia. This particular game was a big deal to me a decade and a half ago, and I was excited when I got to play it. Thus, it’ll always have a special place in my heart. That said, it’s never been the best or most polished title out there, or anywhere close. With a game like this, though, the faults can be part of the charm, and that’s certainly the case with Stubbs. He’s still fun to control and wreck a city with in the year 2021.

As mentioned above, this is a remaster that doesn’t seem to have received a ton of time in the oven. It’s fine, but it won’t win any awards or blow anyone away. The core game remains intact, the visuals have been updated some, and it’s in full widescreen. However, the controls remain a bit wonky (which works here, given what type of experience this is), and the cutscenes do not fill the whole screen. They’re in widescreen, but only fit about 3/5 of the display at most, which is odd.

Some parts of this campaign have aged better than others, but that’s to be expected. While Wideload’s brain-eating affair was originally criticized for being too short, some of its sections now feel like they go on for too long.

At the end of the day, Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse Remastered is a flawed but appreciated return to yesteryear. Although it’s never been the most polished or expertly made game out there, it’s always been fun to play and remains so. Furthermore, there aren’t many campaigns like it, where you get to play as a zombie and have some good, old-fashioned fun.

**This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game, which we were provided with. It was reviewed using an Xbox Series S review unit.**

Overall: 6.0 / 10
Gameplay: 6.1 / 10
Visuals: 5.7 / 10
Sound: 5.2 / 10


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