I unfortunately made the mistake of overbooking myself for interviews last week at GDC, so I didn't get to see developer Brian Robbins' panel on how to put together money for making iPhone games. But I did get to meet up with him later in the week, and he showed me what's going on with his company's latest iPhone app, Ultimate Battle Zombies.
Ultimate Battle Zombies is a freemium title that serves up multiplayer, turn-based fights with some really goofy zombie characters. You pick a character to get started, then you can enter that character into Game Center-enabled fights. Each round, you choose three attacks from a list of four (high, mid, low, and a special attack that varies per zombie), and three blocks. Depending on how your opponent chooses, you win the fight or don't.
There is a little bit of skill to it. As you fight, you can hit your blocks and attacks at exactly the right time and get a nice bonus that helps you along. But at this point, the zombies are basically the same, and the look of the characters is mostly just cosmetic.
That will change soon, however. During GDC, Robbins showed me the new belt system that has just arrived for the title. After this latest update, you can now complete objectives while fighting and earn various belts, which will add new stats and attributes to your characters. Character choice is still basically cosmetic, but belts will make each character just a little different, so you can have a little say in how it all works.
In the future, Robbins says Ultimate Battle Zombies is getting a singleplayer mode for players who aren't willing to wait for multiplayer turns to come around. That should be out in about two weeks, and there are also new zombies coming: An old lady called Grandma Z, and a gorilla called Gorilla Juicehead.
Ultimate Battle Zombies is a little chunk of free fun. It's not the most intricate game (the zombie attacks basically play out like a game of rock, paper, scissors and can sometimes be pretty unfair), but it's colorful and easy to play, and especially if you convince a few friends to jump in the zombie ring with you, it can scratch that freemium itch for a while. Ultimate Battle Zombies is available now.