Rookery’s Retro Review: Haunted House (Atari 2600)

Overall Score: 5 (of 5).  Get into the haunted house, find the four pieces of the broken urn and get out!

Story:  You’re a pair of floating eyeballs in the dark without defenses against ghosts, vampire bats, and giant tarantulas.  There are four levels to the house, complete with stairs and long corridors.  Your only guide is the orange glow of a candle to help you find pieces of this lost urn.

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If fortune smiles upon you, you can prevent being ‘scared to death’ (which ends the game) by finding a magic scepter which makes you invisible to these creatures.  Trouble is, you cannot pick up anything else while you hold the scepter.  Best to just bypass the rod altogether though, find the urn pieces, then dash to the exit.  Rumbling thunder and flashing lightning warns you of nearby terrors.  If one catches you, a crashing thunder sounds while your two beady eyes loop into rolling until you rest in peace.

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Highlights: Quick game, challenging gameplay with increasing difficulty, good sound cues to let you know what’s going on, startling if you get tagged and the volume is way up, no impending doom as found in most early console games.

Lowlights: Unchanging level designs and creatures, no two player co-operative mode though it seems like it could’ve been possible.

Rookery’s Retro Review: Haunted House (Atari 2600) - #GTUSA 1

Similar Style Games:  Adventure, Ghost Manor

Final Thought:  As scary as Atari gets, the very foundation of survival games to come.