There are plenty of horror games out there now, thanks in part to the likes of the Resident Evil and Silent Hill series, but what about before the dawn of the survival horror genre? Back when pixels and sprites ruled our TV screens? I’m going to give you a quick rundown of a few retro games for Halloween, if you are able.
Zombies Ate My Neighbours
Lucasarts/Konami , Super Nintendo/Sega Megadrive
Zombies Ate My Neighbours is a comedy-horror shooter game, played in a top down setting. Alone, or in two player co-op, you take on a variety of zombies and other B-movie monsters through your local neighbourhood and other locales following an unspecified event. Your main mission, outside of the few bosses through the game, is to rescue your neighbours. You start out with 10 on each level, but these can be killed by the monsters, with a magic exit door appearing when all remaining are collected or killed, allowing you passage to the next level.
Weapons are wonderfully varied. Starting out with a simple water pistol, you can pick up others, such as a bazooka, knives and forks, and even a weed whacker. The game wears its B-movie influences on its sleeve, with all matter of Zombies, Werewolves, killer dolls, mummies, and much more filling out the enemy rosters — As well as level names like Evening of the Undead, Lumberjack Hedgemaze Mayhem, and Weird Kids on the Block, showing its 90s roots to the full.
When it comes to great retro games for halloween, Zombies Ate My Neighbours is an essential. It’s a great game to run through with a friend, and once you are done, why not move on the sequel, Ghoul Patrol?
Namco, Arcade/PC Engine/Windows/Others
Splatterhouse is a side-scrolling beat em up, where you take control of the Vorhees-like Rick Taylor. Rick dies during the intro, and is resurrected by the “Terror Mask” which transforms him into the Hockey mask wielding maniac, and you then set off through the mansion dungeons of the antagonist Dr West. Battling your way through the game, you can pick up various weapons like bats, and the classic machete, to help you along in your mission. It’s a classic scrolling beat em up, with a unique style, but a great one to play.
And if you find yourself thirsty for more, there were two direct sequels on a variety of platforms. Avoid the 2010 remake/reboot though.
Haunting (starring Polterguy)
EA, Sega Mega Drive/Playstation Portable
Haunting, at its most basic, is a spook-em up in which you, playing as the titular Polterguy, try to scare the Sardini family who you hold responsible for your death. You accomplish this by possessing various items in the houses they inhabit. There are a surprising number of these items in each room, (about 400 in the whole game) and vary from ghostly spectres jumping from furniture through ghostly severed heads you can control directly, and others which you can activate at the perfect time for extra scares. Its for these reasons that Haunting makes it onto our list of great retro games for Halloween.
These scares use up your “Ecto Tank”, which can be replenished by successfully scarring the inhabitants. Once this depletes, you enter the underworld, where you have to explore around for more Ecto blobs to replenish before getting to the exit. You then return to continue the scaring from where you left off. Once the humans get to a state of very scared, they will flee the house, and when they are all gone, you move to the next level. Which is a new house that the Sardini family have bought.
There are a couple of things to be worried about though. Outside of the monsters that will be inhabiting the underworld, above ground, the family dog can see you. If the dog barks at you, you will lose a significant amount of Ecto, and any family member in the room will feel comfort from it, dropping their fear level. So it’s best to avoid it at all costs. Ecto beasts appear when the family is scared from a room, to try and steal the Ecto dropped, and to attack Polterguy. So it’s best to collect it up quickly, and get out of there.
Give these great games a go, and I’ll be back again at Christmas with a similar list.