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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Atari 2600) artwork

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Atari 2600) review


"How many &^%$*#@ wheelchairs does Franklin own?"



The Texas Chainsaw Massacre asset


In 1974, director Tobe Hooper channeled the grisly and deceptive media coverage of Vietnam. He thus created the film "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," a horror flick whose realistic depictions of butchery and insistence that it was "based on a true story" had initially earned it much infamy.

Nearly ten years later, the developers at VSS channeled Hooper's controversial movie. They thus created The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a score-attack title whose myriad flaws and annoying sound effects had earned it much infamy.

Hell, the game's premise alone could have generated enough heat to melt ice caps, had the game not been so obscure. You take the role of the lovable Leatherface, a murderous cannibal with the intellect of a grapefruit. Your mission is to scour the family farm and chop up as many innocent bystanders as possible in an effort to improve your score. The catch is that Leatherface's chainsaw contains a finite amount of fuel, and the only way to refuel his murder weapon is to rack up a certain amount of points (read: kill lots of innocent women). I can only imagine that if this game had gained any amount of notice--or if it had been developed for a more advanced system like NES or SMS--that parents would have flown off the handle. Fortunately, the game was terrible enough to divert all attention away from it.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre screenshotThe Texas Chainsaw Massacre screenshot


Of course, scoring is not as simple as running up to a woman and slicing her to ribbons with your chainsaw. Getting to the girls involves weaving through a field of scrolling obstructions, including fences, cattle skulls, and abandoned wheelchairs. These are not your ordinary roadblocks, either, as they freeze Leatherface for a certain amount of time when he collides with them, his fuel supply draining all the while. Worst of all, though, is that these obstacles murder the game's pacing. They don't only delay you for a second or two, but sometimes up to ten seconds if you're not careful. Atari 2600 games like this one practically live and die by pacing. Once you've killed that, the whole game pretty much collapses.

Getting around these obstacles can be tricky, as expected, but this game goes the distance to make it so. For one thing obstructions tend to scroll very quickly, giving you little time to react before colliding into one. Even worse is when a girl finally appears, and she's behind a veritable wall of wheelchairs. At times, the game won't provide you with wide enough berth on either side of the field to advance any further. Your options at that point are limited to charging into an obstacle just to get it out of the way or running back and forth until your fuel runs out.

When at last you do spot a woman, you might wish you hadn't. The first thing they do is belt out a grating scream, which issues from your television as a shrill BEEEEEEEEEEEP!. It's not just a one time scream, either, but a continual series of eardrum-shattering beeps that play until you've successfully slaughtered your victim. If ever you needed motivation to take a life, this would be it.

Unfortunately, it doesn't help that victims refuse to die. As you approach them, they tend to immediately run in the opposite direction, disappearing and magically reappearing right behind you. Like their screams, Texas Chainsaw's women don't limit themselves to one teleportation per encounter, but do it repeatedly. That's more time you have to spend pursuing your victim, more fuel you'll lose, more chances to run afoul Franklin's wheelchair, and even longer that you have to listen to the game's incessant beeping.

In other words, even if we were to ignore the game's morally questionable material, playing it would still be a painful experience. It isn't enough that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a clunky, cheap experience, but it's also terribly annoying. Ultimately, my recommendation for for this game is the same as it is for almost any game based on a movie: skip the game, watch the film.

Rating: 1/10

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (October 21, 2013)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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Germ posted October 25, 2013:

This actually sounds hilarious. Probably the only 1/10 review that makes me want to play the game
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JoeTheDestroyer posted October 25, 2013:

Yeah, it is almost worth playing just for a laugh. Since it's a pretty simple game, you likely won't lose more than a few minutes playing it, either. Thanks for reading!

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