Retro Horror Gaming: A Few of My Favorites

Jason Voorhees.  Mass Murderer.  Neglected Camper.  Lover of Sonic the Hedgehog.

Jason Voorhees. Mass Murderer. Neglected Camper. Lover of Sonic the Hedgehog.

Being a gamer and fan of horror, it can be difficult to find games that scratch both those itches at the same time.  Sure, everyone will say that there’s Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and even newer offerings like Gears of War that tap into some of the key themes horror has based itself around for the last century.  But Are there any hidden gems out there that can quench the thirst for traditional horror icons and practices, while delivering a fun, if not dated, experience? YOU BET YOUR SWEET ASS THERE IS!

SPLATTERHOUSE TRILOGY (’88-’93)

Available for: Sega Genesis, Wii, NES, TurboGrafx-16

Number of Players: 1

I can't even count how movies they are ripping off on this cover.

I can't even count how movies they are ripping off on this cover.

Splatterhouse was a series of games made by arcade giant NAMCO, who would later go on to produce some of the most popular games the arcades of the world had ever seen.  But before the glory days of Time Crisis and Soul Caliber, NAMCO made one of the first games that actually got into serious trouble over the its gratuitous on-screen violence.  Splatterhouse was one of the first games to supply a warning directly on the box letting potential customers of the bloody gameplay and horrific images that await them inside.  Despite that, Splatterhouse stood on its own two feet as a competent brawler.  Players controlled Rick, a college parapsychology student, who is apparently good friends with a few MLB players, who goes with his girlfriend to some creepy old mansion to meet up with one Dr. West.  Anyone familiar with their Lovecraft, as you all should be, will get that reference in the doctors name.  Rick’s girlfriend, Jennifer, gets captured and in order to save her, Rick gets to use some ancient Mayan mask that gives him superpowers.  He then proceeds to clobber the shit out of hideous and putrid looking monsters, some modeled after more popular and iconic creatures, while other are just flat out disturbing and unique, like the overgrown babies being hung by what appears to be there own umbilical cords.  The trilogy gathered a cult following, and 2 sequels were made, with my personal favorite being Splatterhouse 3 for the Sega Genesis.  While it pales in comparison to the orgy of violence that almost every game seems to be required to have these days, there are some moments where even the most hardened of modern day gamer will say “Well that is just fucking weird.”  Splatterhouse combines its gore opera aesthetic with some tight controls, a steep learning curve, and an overall difficulty level that teeters between very hard and damn near impossible.  The sound is mostly good, with some sound effects and music in the 3rd installment being quite great and perfectly setting a mood.  Visually, it is on par with most everything else that was happening during their respective times of release.  It feels like a series that started 20 years ago, but it still deserves credit for trying something new and being way ahead of the curve in the violence department.
Rating: ★★★☆☆ (Rating reflects my score on the Trilogy as a whole, not just one game)

Night Slashers (1994)

Available For: Arcade (easily emulated on pc)

Number of Players: 2

Generic looking I know, but you get to karate kick zombies heads off.

Generic looking I know, but you get to karate kick zombies heads off.

Night Slashers is another game that, for some insane reason, never got a port to ANY home console system.  That means the only place this existed was in the arcades (and on own computers thanks to emulators and roms).  It’s a damn shame too, because during the Beat ‘Em Up explosion of the late 80’s into the early 90’s a game like Night Slashers would have been eaten up by the public.  The story is of little significance, and come to think of it, I don’t even think there is one!  The game stars a Van Helsing-ish suave dude in an orange business suit from the 1800’s, a feisty oriental-looking martial art femme-fatale, and an American guy wearing an American flag wife beater, has long blonde hair and a bandanna, and robot arms.  Yup, no bullshit.  Robot Arms.  Their job is to just go from location to location, roundhouse kicking and karate chopping there way through every major type of horror movie bad guy there is.  From zombies, to werewolves, to Ventriloquists with deadly dummies, to Frankenstein.  The game is best enjoyed with two players due to a typically high arcade difficulty level that ramps up exponentially with every level passed.  The music and graphics are all solid, with bright colors and some splendid animations and creature design.  For anyone who liked games like Final Fight, Streets of Rage, and Double Dragon, and horror movies, this is a must. Rating: ★★★½☆

DOOM TROOPERS (1995)

Available for: Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo

Numbers of Players: 2

OOOOOOOO special edition bonus card you say?

OOOOOOOO special edition bonus card you say?


Doom Troopers is a title that comes from a confusing history of board games, comics, TV shows, and toy lines.  While I have seen the recent Mutant Chronicles movie, which is apparently based on the same collective Universe as this game is, I will talk only about the game here as if I know nothing of the other entities.  Doom troopers is a side-scrolling shooter, similar in nature to Contra or Megaman.  The main difference being, is it is drenched in pixel gore, and, for a 1995 game pushing to get the most from dying 16-bit technology, it sounds and looks surprisingly good.  The jumpy and catchy soundtrack, the cheesey sounds effects when blood pours out of a neck wound, and the incredibly tinny and pathetic sound of gunfire will be sure to warm your retro heart.  Combine that with some hellaciously unfair difficulty, a nice co-op mode allowing two players to go at it as a team, and some helpful cheats you can input to make the game beatable, and you have another decent addition to you Genesis or SNES (rom) library that you and a buddy can try to get through, but won’t.  Rating: ★★½☆☆

Zombies ate my neighbors (1993)

Available for: Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo

Number of Players: 2

A parody in game form and a true work of art.

A parody in game form and a true work of art.

Zombies ate my neighbors may be a wee bit too popular to be cosidered a true hidden gem, but everytime someones writes about this game, there’s someone out there who goes and tries it for the first time.  Zombies is a top down view run and gun game, where you play as a punk kid using household items to rescue your neighbors and defeat legions of monsters all inspired by the horror films of the 50’s up to the 80’s.  It’s equal part parody and tribute, as it celebrates and lampoons the genius and schlocky elements of the beloved genre.  Tight controls, memorable soundtrack, and a good use of color helps this game elevate itself from often-recommended to a must play. Rating: ★★★★☆

BLOOD (1997)

Available for:  Most home computers (can be difficult to operate since it was originally written for DOS)

Numbers of Players: 1  (there are mods available for co-operative and competitive multiplayer that remains active to this day)

How can you say no to that!?!?

How can you say no to that!?!?

Blood is DOOM cranked to 11.  It’s DOOM on crack, heroine, pcp, and meth, all while sitting inside the 9th level of hell.  It’s campy, it’s chock full of horror movie and literature references, and to this day is still one of the most brutally violent games in public circulation.  You can light a guy on fire with a flare gun.  You can kick severed heads around like soccer balls.  You can throw dynamite like an NFL quarterback, and stab people with a pitchfork.  You also play as a dead guy who spouts off movie one liners as he kills things.  It’s super great.  Rating: ★★★★★

That’s all for now.  If you enjoyed this short list and would like more suggestions, please leave a comment for us and I will scrounge up some more treasures for you.  If your having trouble finding and playing any of these games, shoot me an e-mail and I’ll send ya some info on how you can get them working.  Enjoy the chills boils and ghouls!!

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About Alex Seda

"I watched him for fifteen years, sitting in a room, staring at a wall, not seeing the wall, looking past the wall - looking at this night, inhumanly patient, waiting for some secret, silent alarm to trigger him off. Death has come to your little town, Sheriff. Now you can either ignore it, or you can help me to stop it." ~Dr. Loomis email alex
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One Response to Retro Horror Gaming: A Few of My Favorites

  1. eye sac says:

    blood is amazing!

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