It's that time of the year again as we start that slow, creep towards Halloween and as always, entertainment companies are always looking out for ways to feed off the public's enjoyment of this ghoulish time of the year.
Therefore, it is no surprise that Microgaming are set to release an excellent brand new Zombie-themed slot called Lost Vegas. Released in early October, perfectly timed for the Halloween celebrations, this exciting slot boasts a number of unique features, including the option to play as a human survivor, or as a member of the zombie hoard at any time in proceedings.
Wednesday 5th October will see the Lost Vegas game hit casinos and with such a wide range of varying features and some innovative new additions never before seen on a slot Microgaming bosses are confident they will have a hit on their hands.
"Lost Vegas is a perfectly timed game for Halloween," stated Neill Whyte, the commercial director at Microgaming.
"The slot brings so much entertainment to game-play, from being able to pick a side and play as a survivor or Zombie, to the never-seen-before [sic] features in the free spin rounds.
"We are really excited to see this slot launch and I'm sure that the game will not only be popular upon release, but will be a long-term favourite with players."
There is certainly every chance of that happening given the resurgence in interest in the Zombie genre in recent times.
That interest extends beyond other slots such as online games like Net Entertainment's Zombies, or the real world casino game by Aristocrat based on The Walking Dead TV Series. Zombies popularity extends far beyond the realms of the humble slot game. One particular genre where they have thrived in recent times is in TV and in particular, film.
Although Zombie films have been made for many years it was George Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968) that is arguably the most influential Zombie film ever made.1 It took ten years for Romero to construct his sequel, Dawn of the Dead, but once again the film saw new benchmarks set in cinematography and storytelling.2
How influential Romero has been in shaping the "Zombie phenomenon" cannot be overstated. It was Romero who first brought to a wider consciousness Zombie's clothes being torn, flesh decayed, wild staring eyes and of course, exploding heads. His influence across the genre since then has been immense.
After a quiet period in the 1990s (although several films were made then), the Zombie theme has returned as strongly as ever over the past decade and there's even been some notable additions to the theme including 28 Days Later and World War Z, as well as the unusual comedy zombie crossover Shaun of the Dead.
Having enjoyed spectacular success on the big screen it is perhaps unsurprising that small screen productions have decided to offer their take on the Zombie theme. Perhaps the most famous of these is The Walking Dead, which has run for seven seasons, although Z-Nation has also proven to be hugely popular running for three years.
Don't forget too that in the mid 1980s, when the video nasty craze was at its highest ebb, one of the global icons of pop culture turned to Zombies to perhaps create the most influential and famous music video of all time. Michael Jackson's Thriller, directed by John Landis, brought Zombies into mainstream pop music and part of the MTV culture and in doing so, created one of the most iconic music videos of all time.3
It doesn't really matter what Zombies actually are to many people. Die hard fans will proclaim that a true Zombie is someone that has risen from the dead, whereas in modern films, such as World War Z and 28 Days later, the Zombies here are not dead, but people infected with a virus or similar.
In truth what matters most is not how Zombies are created, but simply that they are here and as popular as ever.
So yes, Microgaming's new slot may well prove to be one of the biggest hits of the year and certainly with all its Zombie-themed features and clever design (setting the story of the slot in Las Vegas is a stroke of genius) it deserves to be a hit with slot fans. However, its real appeal may lie in the fact that it taps in to a legend that still burns as brightly and as popularly as ever deep within the psyche of millions of people.
Which is why this Halloween, you'll probably see more Zombies walking around the streets!
1) Night of the Living Dead (1968)
2) Dawn of the Dead (1978)
3) Thriller (Short Film 1984)