Atari 2600 Friday’s #2 – Haunted House
Here we go, using The Backloggery I can randomize the game every week, but before we do that I think we’ll go with the one other I’ve beaten so far. That’s right, Haunted House, a game which can be beaten in five minutes easy, which I did when testing new carts last weekend. I want to make these reviews long, but the general nature of Atari 2600 games wont always let that happen. Not all games have the stigma of ET, or the complexity of the Swordquest games. however short the game is I will try my best to give out what information I can find on it.
The Story: You are wandering around a Haunted House and to escape you must find all the pieces to an urn while avoiding bats, tarantula’s and the ghost of the houses final owner Old Man Graves.
From the Manual: “Many years ago in the small town of Spirit Bay, there lived a mean old man named Zachary Graves. Old man Graves was not a very well liked person. He rarely left the old mansion and spent most of his life brooding about the decaying, four story house. When he died, the house was condemned and locked up. The townspeople claim that old man Graves knew the whereabouts of a magic urn that was a family heirloom of the first family of Spirit Bay. It seems that the mansion was the family’s first home and that the magic urn, which broke into several pieces during the earthquake of 1890, is still in the old house. To this day, no one has had the courage to go into the mansion to search for the pieces of the urn. It is common knowledge that the ghost of old man Graves still haunts the mansion. Some of the neighbors claim to have seen lights flickering in the windows. Some say that they have heard eerie sounds, doors slamming, and heavy footsteps. Some even claim to have seen shadows running through the mansion. The mysterious mansion has 24 rooms connected by long corridors and staircases. Some of the rooms have been locked up for over 50 years. There is supposed to be a master key hidden somewhere in the mansion. Without the key, it might be impossible to travel from room to room. There is also an ancient scepter hidden in the mansion. Old man Graves always carried this scepter. He believed it scared off evil spirits.”
From the Box: “You are stumbling around in a dark and dusty haunted mansion. To escape, find the pieces of the magic urn. You’ll encounter giant hairy tarantulas, vampire bats and a menacing ghost. Can you find the urn and escape the mansion before you get “scared to death”?”
The Gameplay: There are four floors to the mansion, well 3 and a basement. I don’t know why it’s listed that way when floor one is the basement and that’s the floor you start and end the game on. One these floors area number of items, keys(to open doors to side rooms), parts of a scepter(which helps protect you from enemies), and the parts to the urn(which you need to escape). You can only carry one item at a time except for the urn pieces. The items appear in random locations every time you play the game. Your character appears as only a set of eyes, however you can light matches which you need to do to find the items(and the map layout on harder difficulties). I believe light attracts the monsters though, which is why you want the scepter. So basically you can either use the scepter to first locate all the pieces of the urn and remember there locations, or you can switch between the scepter and pieces until all pieces are where you want them, either way after you get the urn you need to make a break for the first floor exit. When I first tried the game, it appeared that hitting the monsters did nothing, but in reality you have nine hit points, if you get hit nine times it is game over.
The Controls: Up, down, left, right, diagonal movement. Red button lights/douses a match.
Post Review: All in all Haunted House is a very simple game. It does have nine different game modes which make it progressively harder but for now, I can’t change modes due to a broken switch on my Atari. I beat this in about a minutes just now on game mode one without really encountering any enemies. Like I said, it’s a fairly easy game, at least on lower difficulties. For being one of the first horror genre games, in it’s time period it does it well. That’s it for Haunted House, I hope everyone is excited to hear about a random Atari game from my collection again next week.
The High Score: There is no score counter in this game, which is rare from what I have seen, so I guess all you can do to compete with friends is see who can go through the fastest on each difficulty.