Retro article: Gamasutra interviews Mike Ebert 26 Jul, 2007, 21:57 / 0 comments

This past January Gamasutra held a huge and wonderful interview with former LucasArts artist Mike Ebert that you should really check out. Ebert did art work on such graphic adventures as the NES version of Maniac Mansion, The Secret of Monkey Island, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. But he is best known as the project leader of Zombies Ate My Neighbors, the extremely fun top-down co-op game for SNES and Genesis.

Among the article's wealth of previously unknown tidbits and general goodness is that Ebert and fellow LucasArts employee Kalani Streicher were on the team of the Loom sequel before its cancellation. Who knew?! Also, apparently one of Zombies' bonus levels features Steve Purcell dressed up as Indy. I really need to look for that.
?I don?t think we were actually supposed to put George Lucas in the game,? muses Ebert, ?but we did, and just didn?t tell anyone. It was so easy to make levels for Z.A.M.N. that one day for fun, I just made the floor plan of our offices. The credit level then grew out of that. Originally it was a little more gory, but Nintendo didn?t like severed heads in the game.?

?In the end the design worked very pretty well,? Ebert says. ?We managed to get just about everything into that game that we could squeeze onto the cartridge. Looking back I wish we hadn?t hidden the flamethrower so well. Most people don?t even know there is one in the game. I wish we had more focus testing on the product too. Most of all I wish Lucasfilm had published the game themselves. The publishing deal Lucas had with Konami earned us very little royalties.?

The game was released on SNES and Genesis in 1993 to rave reviews. ?I think it?s the best reviewed game I?ve ever worked on,? Ebert notes. ?The project went so smoothly we were green lighted for Metal Warriors almost immediately. I?d like to see a DS or Wii downloadable version of Z.A.M.N, but last time someone talked to LucasArts about it, they were like ?We made that game???
It's funny Ebert should mention the game for a Virtual Console release, since that was supposedly going to happen at some point in the future. Anyway, the interview contains tons of great info about Ebert's time at LucasArts and what he's up to now, and there's really no help for you if you don't decide to read it.