I meant to get to this yesterday as well as the day before and do a post per day but Real Life ™ managed to get in the way again. I hate and love cars. I love them for the convenience and freedom they can give you but when they go bad, breakdown or whatever, they are a true financial and convenience headache.
Anyways, given my affinity for Atari, I figure why not spend some time looking into their “horror/terror” games this week?
Haunted House (Atari 2600)
This is probably the most recognizable game from the genre to come from Atari. It was a pioneering effort – this was a time when developers were experimenting with just about everything to see what they could pull off on extremely limited hardware. So it doesn’t look like much but it is quite a fun game to play.
The premise is sort of similar to Adventure although the areas are restricted to 4 levels of a house. You only appear as a pair of eyes on the screen and you have to avoid the creatures of the house while you collect 4 pieces of a scepter which once together you need to escape the house. Bats, ghosts, and spiders are lurking about to stop you although they are not always very “intelligent” in how they stalk you. Still, the ambiance of the game is fitting and if you go with a higher difficulty setting to play this in the dark, it has what you want from these kinds of games – tension. I think in good part that comes from the sound. Sure the Atari TIA chip was not the best sound chip ever created, it was extremely limited overall but when used properly, it was a different story. As such, this is likely to offer great nostalgia for gamers who played it back in the 80s and it is still fun to try out today, if you go into it not expecting Resident Evil
Dracula (Atari Lynx)
This is one of my favorite Lynx games. While the Lynx may be known for its high quality arcade ports, which sometimes surpasses home console ports (like STUN Runner), its exclusive games were really worth talking about.
In this title, it is an interactive re-telling of the original Dracula story. It starts off with Bram Stoker ‘narrating’ the story and you play as solicitor Johnathan Harker in attempting to unravel the mystery at Dracula’s castle. As an adventure game, you have certain actions that can be taken (represented in the lower left window) upon objects that are shown in the right.
Graphically this pre-dates the time where brown was “cool” but the whole sepia look was intentional and it works. The pace of the game depends on the player and whether or not they make the right choices as they go along to play. You can make notes in, and consult your journal and it won’t be long before you discover that you have to scale the castle wall to reach the more interesting places of the complex.
When you get to the catacombs, that is where things can get a bit tense. If you play this in the dark with headphones on then once again it is where the sound sets the tone of the game. This is great if you are a little patient and like some un-nerving (albeit not jump out at you/slapstick) scares.
One sad thing about this is that the version that was released had a lot of content cut out of it due to cart space. Hand Made Software had a 512k version with more areas to explore; unfortuantely that build has never been discovered. Either way, it is a still a fun game to play, it’s unique to the Lynx and the perfect game to play this time of year if you happen to have it.