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Halloween (Atari 2600) artwork

Halloween (Atari 2600) review


"Once the shock wears thin, you'll still have inventive gameplay. However, the act of running from one room to another, saving children, trying to survive, and stabbing Michael Myers becomes a slow and tedious one. There's little in the way of fast-paced or addictive gameplay, so the simplicity and extreme repetition make for a rather dull experience. "



Grip that joystick and take command of Jamie Lee Curtis. She's a small town teenager trying to make an extra buck watching her neighbor's kids on Halloween. All went well until an escaped lunatic chopped up her friends across the street. And as luck would have it, our friend in the Shatner mask decided to drop in on Curtis's adventure in babysitting. Seems he thought she would look better with several dozen stab wounds.

Halloween scores points for originality. It's not the standard fare that comes with Atari 2600 and its opulence of Space Invaders-derived software. Rather than blasting aliens, your character aims to survive a home invasion by the teen-slayer Michael Myers. By guiding Sally Struthers in a brown inner tube Ms. Curtis from room to room, you can find freaked out children and guide them to safety. Hold down the fire button and walk off screen until you reach the end of the hall and earn 650 points.

Oh, if only it were that simple. Michael randomly appears and slowly ambles towards you or the child. Should you be slow on the draw when grabbing little Tommy, the poor lad will wind up with a fatal knife wound. However, survival has strange effects on the human psyche. When pressed, Tommy might seem more like a clever ruse for a fleeing coward. Run as you might, though, Michael will always find you. Traipse too closely and he'll cleave your head from your neck, leaving a geyser of blood and a stump in its place. You can protect yourself and score some extra points should you find a knife and jab Michael with it. This will temporarily take him out, but not permanently stop him. He's an undying force with infinite respawns, similar in nature to Berzerk's Evil Otto.

No matter what era you play Halloween in, it's still a shocking title. It's not because of the blocky gore or child killing. It's the notion that something this old got away with it. Many tend to think of any time before Mortal Kombat as purer; a time filled with rainbows, smiling mushroom people and happy clown children. Seeing something this graphic on such an ancient piece of machinery is quite the surprise.

Once the shock wears thin, you'll still have inventive gameplay. However, the act of running from one room to another, saving children, trying to survive, and stabbing Michael Myers becomes a slow and tedious one. There's little in the way of fast-paced or addictive gameplay, so the simplicity and extreme repetition make for a rather dull experience.

This is not to say that Halloween is a total wash. It stays true to its source material, even including the famous theme music whenever Michael appears. It's not for lack of trying, or because Halloween isn't at all a stable title. It's better than most license titles on Atari 2600, but its premise doesn't hold up for very long.

Rating: 4/10

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (November 10, 2011)

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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