Off To Eat Some Innards: American McGee’s OZombies

He actually looks like he's doing quite well without a heart, all things considered.

I was really hoping American McGee’s OZombie would turn out to be an undead heavy metal odyssey starring Ozzy Osbourne on a trip of self-discovery/drugs in Australia. But instead, it’s fairytales. They’ve become McGee and Spicy Horse’s calling card as of late, always with a sooty spritz of macabre. Alice went goth, Little Red Riding Hood sliced and diced demons, and now Wizard of Oz is getting a double dose of zombies and steampunk. Played out trends, sure, but I have to admit that what little McGee and co have released so far looks somewhat intriguing. A few more details after the break.

The basic idea is that Scarecrow’s become Oz’s undead menace (Get it? Because he’s looking for brains), leaving Dorothy, Toto, the Lion, and the Tinman to deal with a world “not of our remembering.” The zombies, then, resemble possessed scarecrows more than they do traditional zombies, which is kind of neat I suppose. Dorothy, meanwhile, is heavily armed, lightly goggled, and Harry-Potter-ly scarred, making her the steam-est of punks.

Also worth noting: OZombie is being planned as a cross-platform to-do compatible with PC, Mac, Linux, and tablet, but Spicy Horse is tweaking its online tech to allow for offline single-player. “While I think this sort of [negative reaction to always online] ignores the general direction we’re heading with entertainment – and I do not think it’s necessarily bad thing (there’s nuance in my position on this) – we’re trying our best to listen and adjust our strategy in response to our customers,” wrote McGee.

OZombie is still in a very early phase of development, and Spicy Horse will either push it or a new Alice game (if it gets EA’s approval) onto Kickstarter depending on fan response. Apparently, though, McGee’s pulling for Oz.

“The more I think about it – and the more I see/hear feedback from you guys – the more I’m personally leaning towards Oz. There’s so much fun stuff to explore, so many interesting characters and locations to discover. Wonderland will also be there, if not today, if not the next project, then perhaps the one after that?”

For now, though, Spicy Horse’s next game is still up in the air. So then, the obvious question: what’s your take? Alice or scarecrow zombie steampunk mecha Oz?


  1. Lemming says:

    “not of our remembering.”

    Why does that quote make my brain want to leave my skull?

    I enjoyed Madness Returns, for what it’s worth, so I don’t mind McGee’s competent Tim Burton shtick he has going.

  2. Klarden says:

    If this is “the general direction we’re heading with entertainment”, mister Mcgee, then the |entertainment” will soon become “annoyance” due to constant possibility of trouble from both the client and the entertainment provider side which cannot ever be 100% negated.

    Still, I’m highly interested in this, as i always am with American’s projects. Besides, he was playing with the idea of Oz for a veeeery long time, good to see it may finally be released. Also, I’d still like to see Grimm on Steam and other services. It was kinda repetitive and dumb, but fun.

  3. GameCat says:

    Why can’t we have just some lighthearted Oz/Alice games with decent gameplay? Something like LEGO games.

    PS. I love American McGee’s Alice and its sequel.

  4. Lord_Mordja says:

    I don’t know, American McGee’s formula of taking popular tales and making them dark & disturbing is swiftly becoming old hatter.

    • GameCat says:

      I hope you mean “popular tails”.

    • basilisk says:

      It seems Spicy Horse is something of a one-trick pony.

      • Bhazor says:

        If we’re going to put the horse down can I get first dibs? Because Spicy Horse sounds delicious.

        • Lagwolf says:

          I thought all you had to do was go to Tesco and get their spicy beef to get “spicy horse”?

    • RedViv says:

      Quite, they’d have to act jinjurly to keep their weird-and-not-exactly-bad image.

    • LimeWarrior says:

      Once you let the cat out of the bag, it’ll take a wizard to stop the ravenous wolves ready to rip you apart on internet message boards.

  5. Bhazor says:

    Oh god. Why do people still give this guy a living? The original Alice wasn’t even that good.

    link to

    (I was never a fan of Murray but this review nailed it for me)

  6. Kaen says:

    Zombies again, really?? Sigh.

  7. Kollega says:

    Something i don’t understand is why Yankee McGoHome always tries to grimmify and endarken tales that weren’t supposed to be that grim or dark in the first place. I could understand him if he was working on ye olde fairy tales, which were supposedly quite dark in their original versions, but Alice in Wonderland or Wizard of Oz were never supposed to be grim-and-gritty. Sure, there might be a few dark moments in them here and there, but the entirety of them isn’t supposed to look like a bad fanfic or a comic book out of the 1990s.

    • Koozer says:

      He basically rips all the subtlety and nuance out and replaces them with blood and the colour brown. He is the person who, after someone says something witty, deconstructs it out loud before laughing.

      • TheTuninator says:

        Both AMA and Madness Returns have a nice color palette. They’re hardly “filled with brown”.

        They hardly look like a “bad fanfic”, either; the level design in both games is absolutely gorgeous. Indeed, that’s the strongest point of the games, given that the gameplay is middling at best.

        Alice in Wonderland isn’t supposed to be “gritty”, but the original story is quite twisted and bizarre on a very regular basis.

    • kelvarnsen says:

      He is the video game equivalent of Tim Burton, except McGee’s products manage to be enjoyable despite their formulaic nature.

    • Dr I am a Doctor says:

      Because goth hambeasts who dress in Hot Topic gobble that stuff up.
      Seriously. For example, Burton’s Alice earned a billion earth dollars

      • Phasma Felis says:

        Ah, of course, the lucrative “overweight goth” demographic. Because everyone knows normal video gamers are svelte and athletic and despise edgy, controversial games.

    • Baf says:

      I’d say it was appropriate to Alice. Alice has always been surreal and grotesque and a little disturbing, stories about a world where nothing makes sense. I mean, there’s a point in Through the Looking Glass where Alice is at a banquet but can’t eat anything because the meat is all sentient, for crying out loud. All McGee did was exaggerate what was already there.

      Oz is completely different matter. Oz is basically Baum’s vision of paradise. It’s a place where no one ever really dies and the good guys always prevail in the end. Wonderland doesn’t even have good guys. It just has less-unpleasant guys.

      What I’m saying is, there’s a reason that there aren’t any Batman villains based on Oz characters.

      • Jackablade says:

        What an outrage that Mr McGee is making a dark, frightening version of The Wizard of Oz. As we all know Oz is all sweetness

        And light.

        I’m not about to defend the zombie thing though. That does seem like a pretty wasteful use of the license.

  8. JB says:

    That image makes me feel all Nurgle-y.

  9. Phasma Felis says:

    Oh, American McGee. Your name sounds like a crude attempt at parody, and so do all your games.

    • ShockLobster says:

      “Oh, American McGee,” when it happens in my mind, is followed by “welp, steering clear, thanks for the advance warning.”

  10. Dr I am a Doctor says:

    This is awful, awful, awful, just like that guy’s name
    Can’t he settle on ruining a single book or what

    • misterT0AST says:

      Did he actually ruin a book by making a game loosely inspired on it 150 years later? That’s quite an accomplishment.
      I’ll now sketch a Mona Lisa on MS Paint and therefore ruin the original forever for everyone.

  11. Stijn says:

    Note that this is actually just called “OZombie”, they didn’t stick McGee’s name in the title for this one (and they haven’t done so for the past few games he’s made anyway).

    Just so people don’t start beating that dead horse again…

  12. The Random One says:

    I, for one, thought it would be a Stubbs the Zombie prequel starring his Irish grandfather.

    I luv steampunk, but hot gluing brass gears & googles to a franchise does not steampunk make.

  13. F3ck says:

    I enjoyed the last Alice game enough (which included the first game, but haven’t gotten to play) about as much as I enjoyed the actual book…which is to say, not too much.

    I am saying the source material is boring, so was the WoO. If McGee wants to spice it up some I say more power to ‘im.

    Burton’s been lost in a Carter/Depp three-way for so long he has no idea how much we hate watching them play goth dress up…so those comparisons aren’t fair.

    …and his name’s no more annoying than, oh say, Jack London.

  14. belgand says:

    1. Take fairy-tale property about a young girl in a threatening and/or strange new world. Ideally one where this sort of thing has already been done time and time again.
    2. Make it GrimDark.
    3. Add an additional culture/sub-culture for seasoning.

  15. ChaseGunman says:

    I knew the O’Zombies well. Decent folk, all except the youngest. Whiskey nose on him before he was out of short trousers. Terrible disappointment to his father, oul’ Sean O’Zombie…