In this retro style game developed and published by the appropriately named Retroainment Games, we go back to 1986; a time when cult classic horror movies were making their way to the big screen, either from being so scary, or extremely campy. It was around this time that video games were first widely available in the home. In Haunted Halloween ’86 we go back to the roots and learn what it means to fall in love with video games for the first time, all over again.
In this side scrolling action/platformer, we will relive a time before ‘easy difficulty’ and autosave where games were designed to take every last quarter from your piggy bank. The story opens with our children protagonists getting ready for the best holiday for both kids and adults, Halloween. We take control of Donny and Tami, the sibling duo with matching “P” shirts as they rip on their friends lame Halloween costumes and complain of nothing being scary enough to make them shiver. Soon, however, they discover a house that is rumored to be haunted. Following a quick investigation into the house, they soon find that they are trapped in a ghoulish 16-bit nightmare.
Everything about this game, from the graphics and music to the controls, will give you the perspective of being a gamer in the 80’s. Simple controls and movement are the only tools at your disposal, so you will need to put your skills of timing and planning to use, as well as a bit of luck if you hope to beat to the end of this story.
The gameplay is a simple concept; don’t touch enemies or spiky things, and avoid holes and pits. This is much harder than it sounds and takes a bit of trial and error. The title is short, however, as it was designed to be beaten in a single sitting (since titles back then didn’t have the memory to offer save functions) so a little persistence will ultimately determine a winner.
Overall this game is fun and is a great nostalgia boost for those of us who were gamers in the early days of gaming, but it may not translate well to the newer generation of gamers who have been spoiled by the graphical improvements made to games in the past 30 years. For those that play for achievements and trophies, this game will be a welcome addition as all them can be earned in less than an hour.