Ghost Manor (Atari 2600) review
"Ghost Manor sacrifices incremental difficulty boosts for variety, essentially providing you with multiple "level ones" that lack the challenge, bite and addictiveness of a typical 2600 game."
Many of us old-schoolers want to believe that some ancient games are still relevant, and could still be enjoyed by present and future generations. So we lie to ourselves and say that some titles have stood the test of time, knowing full well it's a dirty fib. Some games have aged and their entertainment values have depreciated along with the quality of media (audio, visuals, etc.). Case in point: Ghost Manor.
Here we have a piece that sounds unthinkable; a horror game on a dusty old system best known for arcade-style titles that serve as lightly amusing mini-games nowadays. If you think this concept sounds painful, you're absolutely correct. Playing Ghost Manor today, despite the nostalgia it invokes, will leave you desiring either a deeper and more detailed experience or a simpler and more addictive arcade action title. Moreover, it's not a game that present and future generations are going to choose over, say, a current-gen Resident Evil title.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not bullying this game because of its age. If my previous reviews are any indication, I love me some old games. Ghost Manor's age isn't what's in the hot seat, but its core concepts, including an idea seldom provided by Atari 2600 titles: variety! While that might get some old-schoolers' salivary glands going, you have to remember that the Atari 2600 benefits from keeping it simple, which Ghost Manor also attempts to do. Therein lies the problem. Both concepts, the varied gameplay and simplicity, are at odds with one another. You'll play a stage, bask in its uncomplicated glow, and then end the affair wanting a more challenging version of it that will never arrive. You'll move on to another style of gameplay and repeat the process, all the while wanting some consistency.
Even when you begin the game, you find simplicity and complexity at odds. It kicks off with a loving couple standing in a graveyard while the game belts out a classic Halloween song, unfortunately limited to Atari 2600's lacking audio capabilities. What should be a great atmosphere-setter instead sounds like an October classic as played by an orchestra of flatulence. It demeans the effect of the minimalistic narrative, something alien to video games at the time.
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (October 14, 2012)
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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