Miniclip Interview: Zombality creator Yuri Shapkin

It’s the zombie apocalypse. The dead are rising, walking the streets in search of human flesh. There’s nowhere to hide. Nowhere. What would a zombie killing expert want in his hands in this situation? “A box of pencils,” he tells us. “And some sheets of paper.” Oh. Um. Okay. “To avoid boredom.” And here was us thinking that the only danger was having your brains eaten out.

Our zombie expert is none other than Russian game developer, Yuri Shapkin, whose action-puzzler Zombality was released on Miniclip earlier this summer. The game sees your character shoot, dodge, and bash his way through a building packed with the undead, drooling at the thought of sinking their teeth into you. You wouldn’t even want a crowbar to defend yourself, then, Yuri?

“Okay, maybe a zombie survival guide.” That’s more like it.

Before tackling zombies, Shapkin started out as an artist and Flash animator, and his roots are clear in Zombality: a lot of care and attention has gone into the game’s unique style and character models. As you progress through the game, your character unlocks a range of costumes: you’ll end up smashing zombies while dressed as a ninja turtle, our very own Gravity Guy, a cool dude in green shades… even something that looks suspiciously like Jedi Master Yoda.

Shapkin picks out the ninja turtle suit as his favourite, and it does beg the question which Zombality outfit one would wear to a fancy dress party. Other costumes that were considered for the game were Iron Man, Pikachu and SpongeBob SquarePants – the latter two perhaps ditched for their lack of zombie-killing prowess. Although that’s definitely a mash-up we’d like to see.

SpongeBob, Iron Man, Pikachu

Zombie killers or a fancy dress contest?

Other costumes that were considered for the game were Iron Man, Pikachu and SpongeBob SquarePants.

Shooting the undead while dressed as Yoda is, to say the least, a somewhat surreal experience. Where did the unique art style of Zombality come from?

“I began making cartoon films in 2006”, says Shapkin, who won an award for his 2007 film One Actor Show in the Russian Flash animation contest Penguin Flash. That landed him an invitation to work as an artist and animator with developers Playrix, although he soon began making his own games as a hobby. From that point came his biggest creative move. “I create all my games and cartoons in my own art style – I developed my own little universe which I call oOpstopia.”

Yuri Shapkin's fictional world of oOpstopia

Yuri Shapkin’s fictional world of oOpstopia

oOpstopia can be seen in all of Shapkin’s work – a colourful, cartoony world used to portray a slightly comic and satirical series of stories. It is vibrant and lively – Shapkin describes it as “his dream” to see his work appear on high-def mobile devices, as well as the web. One of his other oOpstopia projects, the YouTube series Tankville, is hugely popular back in Russia with an audience of over 500,000 regularly tuning in for each episode. To those who know oOpstopia through playing Zombality, it’s strange to see the art style in use without any monsters running across the screen – what was it that made Shapkin want to lend his unique designs to an undead adventure?

“Everyone can become a zombie. It can be someone from any time, age or profession.”

“I like zombie games, and zombies,” he smiles. “Everyone can become a zombie. It can be a person from any time, any continent, age or profession. As an artist, I like to create different zombie people.” It’s an interesting point – zombies are universal, once bitten it doesn’t matter whether you’re an American footballer, a local sheriff or just a guy taking a walk when the apocalypse starts. All of these and more can be found in Zombality and, although they all have different abilities, they’re all after the same thing: your brains. And it wasn’t long before Shapkin decided to try his hand at his own addition to the zombie game genre, with his second game, Zombie At The Gates, featuring in the Top 5 at the annual awards of in 2012.

Shapkin's second game, Zombie At The Gates

Shapkin’s second game, Zombie At The Gates

If all this talk of our impending zombie-related doom is giving you the creeps, worry not: Shapkin has a fine remedy. “Find the nearest video game store,” he says, “and play all the zombie games you can find. It will help you to prepare for any situation.”

You heard the man.

Like the look of Zombality? We’ve got two exclusive desktop wallpapers for you.

Check out our Zombality Walkthrough video!