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October 8, 2008 - Matt Phillips
October is here! The cold autumn wind, gloomy days, colorful foliage bring to mind all things Halloween. The popularity of Halloween is undeniable, it is seconded only to Christmas for retail sales. This popularity crosses over to the video game world in the vast amounts of zombie laden survival horror games. Horror games have become extremely popular since the inception of the Resident Evil series, but the roots of horror games goes much farther back.
As it is my favorite game system, I always go back to the Nintendo Entertainment System. The mid to late eighties saw a fantastic boom in home video games. New genres of video games were gaining popularity as the technology allowed for a more engrossing story. Horror games were one of those genres that emerged.
One of the earliest horror video game ever created was Chiller. Chiller is a gun game that depicts a number of gory scenes with multiple interactive targets. The original arcade unit was actually banned in many areas. There is a port of this game for the NES that has a very interesting feature: two player simultaneous Zapper play. The graphics are choppy, but it is by far the most gory game released for the NES. Needless to say this game was not approved of, nor endorsed by Nintendo.
Another great horror game is Shadogate. This game features still images that lend for much greater detail than possible in fully animated game play. It is a text based game much like early computer games. The object of this game is to navigate through a creepy castle that has a number of pitfalls and puzzles to solve.
By far the most popular and enduring horror series to come from this period is the Castlevania series. Sidescrolling action combined with Dracula, monsters and many other supernatural themes makes this a classic. In this series you play a whip wielding hero on a quest to destroy Dracula. The third (Dracula's Curse) game released for the NES added the option of playing one of four different characters each with his own special abilities, making for a much deeper game experience. Today, Castlevania games appear on almost all the major game systems.
There are many more horror style games to play on the NES, some taken from movies like Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street. With the explosion of technology today, the depth of the games are so great that horror movies are now being made from games!
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