Part of the 2nd 9 Days of Heck! Let’s go way back and look at what can be considered as one of the first “survival horror” games ever made!
Played on: Atari Flashback 4
Also on: Atari 2600, PS2, PS4, Xbox One (Various Compilations and Plug and Plays)
Developer: Atari, James Andreasen
Date posted: October 30, 2018
So what is the first survival horror game? A lot of people speculate that it was 1992’s Alone in the Dark. Others say it was the Japanese only title Sweet Home, released in 1983, which served as inspiration for Resident Evil. 1982’s Monster Maze, perhaps?
My money is on today’s subject, Haunted House. It’s also my first Atari 2600 review, so hopefully everything goes right!
Released in 1982, Haunted House takes place in, you guessed it- an ice cream parlor a haunted house! Spooky! You play as a set of eyes , who has entered the house in order to retrieve the urn of Zachary Graves, not knowing the horrors that lie within…. (mostly spiders and ghosts!)
For an Atari 2600 game, HH is pretty open-ended- you can go up and down the floors of said house with relative ease, using your matchbook to light the way, illuminating the three items you can pick up- pieces of the urn, a scepter, and a key- each be using to ensure your victory!
The items are all randomly spawned (depending on difficulty), making each game different. You need the scepter to ward off the monsters (Spiders, Bats, and the Ghost, who in a shocking plot twist, is Bruce Willis!) the key unlocks doors on later “levels”, and the urn is most important- it has to be reassembled, then taken to the exit- the main goal of the game!
The game, like most Atari games, has multiple modes, or in this case, levels. Here’s a brief overview of each-
Game 1- Easy Mode! The house is well lit, but you still have to use matches to find items. Start here!
Game 2- Same as game 1, but now everything’s dark! You have to use your matches to find the walls!
Game 3- The dark house returns, and now, there’s a bunch of locked doors! The key comes into play here- thankfully, it’s in the first room!
Game 4- Dark house. Locked doors…. and the key is somewhere different everytime!
Game 5- Dark house, locked doors, and more spiders! YIKES!
Game 6- Everything above, but now everything can chase you! The ghost can now go though locked doors!
Game 7- Everything above, and now touching the bat takes your item and places it somewhere different. Have fun!
Game 8- All above, but now the ghost isn’t afraid of the scepter. You betta run!
Game 9- The manual states that this is the ULTIMATE HAUNTED HOUSE CHALLENGE! Everything from Game 1-8, PLUS randomized floors, and all enemies can go though doors. There’s no escape!
Game 10- THE ULTIMATE SUPER HAUNTED HOUSE CHALLENGE! Wilford Brimley’s ghost now chases you, warning you of diabeetus! Also, Sinbad is there making unfunny jokes and taunting you. Note: This may have been an opioid fever dream of mine. You have been warned! Wait, what do you mean Brimley is still alive? Damn, that Liberty Medical really works!
It may not be the most exciting game on the 2600, but I think it’s important, as it was one of the first horror-themed games ever made. Does this mean that survival horror as a whole would never exist without it? Who knows! What I do know is that the game is important to the overall history of horror games, so I think it deserves respect just for that notion!
It’s pretty basic- but then again, it’s a Atari 2600 game- most of the system’s library is just that! You can complete the game in one setting, easy, making it a good game to pick up and play.
Enemy’s can be annoying, blowing out your match when you enter a room, and they sometimes take forever to de spawn.
The biggest complaint I have about the game is that you can lose the key, needed to open doors, by making it stuck in the walls without any way to retrieve it. Make sure you leave the key in a wide space, or your screwed! You can also lose the other items in the game, so be careful!
I’m just going to use this space to put down all the available ports of this game, as there are many! It’s available on….
- Atari 2600, of Course!
- Atari Anthology (PS2, Xbox 2004)
- Atari- 80 Classic Games in One! (PC, 2003)
- Atari Greatest Hits: Volume 1 (DS, 2010)
- Atari Vault (PC, Mac, Linux, 2016)
- Atari Flashback Classics Vol. 2 (Xbox One, PS4, 2016)
- Atari Flashback 1-9 (Yes- they made 9 of these things! Holy cow!)
All versions are pretty much identical. Some of the Flashback plug-and-play consoles have it’s unofficial sequel as well.
While it may not be the most fancy game now and days, Haunted House is important to video game history, and I urge everyone to at least play it once! The cartridges go for cheap, and its on every single Atari Flashback mini consoles, so there’s really no reason to get chased by spooky ghosts and spiders! It’s okay- really, it is!
Agree? Disagree? Good! Leave a comment about how terrible my taste is in the comments below!
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