DOES THIS CLASSIC ATARI GAME STILL MAKE THE… CUT?
Halloween for Atari 2600 is one of the earliest horror games out there. It actually predates the term “survival horror” by over a decade. It is currently one of the rarest and most valuable Atari 2600 games out there, routinely selling for over $100 for the cartridge by itself (most Atari games sell for around $1). Unfortunately, due to its rarity, age, the fact that it is out of print, not on any digital collections, and on a system that isn’t produced any more, you will have to brush up on your eBay skills to actually play this one.
Halloween is based on the 1978 slasher movie of the same name, and the goal is to lead as many kids as possible to safety without getting decapitated. There is no real story to speak of: you just keep playing till you die and try to beat your own high score. There is only one level: a simple 2 story house. As basic as it is, the setting works really well. The game assumes you are familiar with serial killer Michael Myers and the idea of teenage slasher movies. That is really all you need to go on.
As far as looks go, this game doesn’t exactly need Titan graphics cards to run smoothly, however it looks good for an Atari game. It came out late in the 2600’s life cycle (1983) so it pushed that hardware to it’s limits. There is an impressive blood animation whenever the player character is killed and the models are at least semi-recognizable, which is rare for the Atari 2600.
When I first played this game it was with no small amount of trepidation. Atari games are notoriously hit or miss and most control poorly, and this was a licensed property to boot. Surprisingly it was pretty fun. The gameplay is reminiscent of the classic Sega title Flicky, but with more murder. The frantic running around not knowing when the killer is going to show up makes for some tense and interesting gameplay. It is a fairly challenging game and I had a lot of trouble saving more than one or two people. You won’t be enjoying marathon sessions of Halloween, but it is worth checking out for its rarity and the history that goes with it if nothing else.
The Verdict: 6.5 out of 10
Despite its age Halloween for Atari 2600 holds up fairly well. While it is by no means the best Atari game or even one the best survival horror games it is a vital and important part of the history of the genre. Unless you are a collector, it isn’t worth the $100 price tag. If you do get a chance to play this obscure but important title check it out, and keep an eye out at yard sales and flea markets.
Mike Bertrand is MONG’s foremost expert on survival horror games and will be happily dropping knowledge bombs on your faces all month. Tweets.