The other day I was chatting with one of the neighbor kids. Not in a “creepy old man” way, more of a “I wonder if his parents taught him the value of a dollar? Because I want to talk him into raking all my leaves…for a dollar” way. It seems little Johnny was smarter than I thought. After all, he’s a PS3/Xbox gamer, and he realizes games are in the $60 range. He’s into Halo, Call of Duty, and the Left 4 Dead series. These games are favorites of mine, as well, so we actually had something in common. Anyway, after a little zombie-talk, I was flooded with memories of scary games from my younger years. Two of these stuck out, so I thought it was time to replay them to see how they stand up to today’s standards. So, I enter my game room with a leaf-covered yard and one dollar still in my pocket.
First game I thought of was Haunted House by Atari, for the Atari 2600. I remember playing the hell out of this game. It was one of my favorites…let’s see if I still enjoy it. Speed-reading the instructions, here’s all you need to know:
Old guy died and his ghost is still “haunting” the house. There are other creepy-crawlies in there as well. Four floors to the house with six rooms on each floor, stairs seperating the floors. Some doors are locked, so finding the master key is “key”. There’s a magic scepter which will keep away the creepies, but not the ghost. OBJECTIVE: Find the three pieces of an urn and return to the front door. Seems simple, but there is a catch. You can only carry one item at a time. So, if you are keeping the monsters away with a scepter, you can’t use the key to open doors. If you’re carrying the urn, you can’t…you get the idea.
Game start. Everything is pitch black, which is cool, except for two eyeballs, which is you. The controller’s red button does one thing. When you press it, you’re circled by a flickering light, which is supposed to represent a lit match. That’s the only way you can see the items to pick up. Nice touch. The match will last for a little time, then go out. Hit the button again, and we have light. The amount of matches you use combined with how many times you’re “killed” (you have 9 lives) is your score for the game.
There’s no true “walkthrough” because every game has items randomly placed…which is good. Here were some highlights/lowlights:
I grade on a 0-2 scale in 5 categories, for a max score of 10.
The eyeballs will ‘look” the direction you’re moving. Flying bats and spiders look like bats and spiders. The ghost chasing you looks cool. Flickering lightning!
This was an important part of the game. A distinct sound when you go up or down stairs, and when you are bumping into walls. Footsteps. A cool “wind” sound when a monster enters the same room you’re in (it blows out your match).
Your eyes move fluidly, and you bump into a lot of things (because it’s dark). Done well.
It’s okay. I enjoyed it more as a kid. But, you run like hell when you see the monsters coming at you. A little-girl scream might have come out of my mouth on occasion.
It does have scoring and different difficulty levels, but I probably wouldn’t play it again…at least until next Halloween.
A very well-done game for an old console
Old Game Reviewer reviews classic and retro games, you can check out more of his great work on his blog here – Old Game reviewer.