Sunday, October 30, 2011

Game of the week: Halloween for Atari 2600

In 1978 the world was introduced to serial killer Michael Myers in the first Halloween movie by John Carpenter. Since then, horror movies have never been the same.

But unless you are a hardcore retro gamer, you might not know that in 1983 Wizard Video came out with a Halloween cartridge for the Atari 2600 home gaming console, perhaps the most popular gaming console of all time.

What was great about the Halloween game was that it actually could be quite scary. Yes, by today's standards the graphics are a bit hokey, but the gameplay kept you on the edge of your seat.

The plot of the game is relatively simple, as most games were at the time. The player controls a babysitter who has to escort children to safety within a house. There are two floors to the house, making the screen look somewhat like Pitfall!, with doors and windows throughout. That's the easy stuff. The hard part? Oh yeah, Michael Myers is stalking you throughout the house.

Just like in the movies, Myers sometimes shows up out of nowhere, popping out of doors or from the side of the screen. He is slow, so you can outrun him usually, but you never know just when and where he is going to show up. To make matters worse, sometimes the lights go out in the house, which leaves you in the dark with no way to know where Michael will show up next.

It doesn't happen often, but every once in a while the player's character can find a butcher knife and attack Michael with it, which is a nice touch. Keep an eye open for the gory graphics, which are sort of laughable today but were creepy back in 1983.

The gameplay here was excellent, and an added bonus was the awesome theme music from the Halloweenmovies. Every time Michael shows up, the Halloween music can be heard.

With the actual holiday of Halloween coming up, you might consider buying this game as a gift if you have a hardcore retro gamer in your family or among your friends. But good luck, because this game is a rarity. Still, it can be found on eBay from time to time, though it might cost you a little money.

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