Where only days away from Halloween and there’s no doubt that you’re going to need some appropriate games to play this year. We’ve brainstormed together to create a list of horror-inspired games that have either appeared on a Sega console or were published by Sega themselves. There’s a great variety of games to check out from 16-bit brawlers and platformers to modern day shooters. In addition, you may want to check out our list of 10 Scariest Games for more Halloween fun.
Hit the jump to read on!
Tom Kyzivat: I know what you’re thinking. You’re all, “Altered Beast isn’t a horror game, it’s a mythological game, and Tom is dumb and looks like a dork.” Well! Prepare to be proven wrong on one of those points. Granted, Altered Beast has a distinct Greek mythological theme and tone (even if it’s totally inaccurate), but the crazy stuff they put in there is nothing short of horror gold. First of all, you play as a damn zombie, technically. Then you fight in a graveyard for the first level, taking on all manner of rotting corpses that explode when you kill them. Flying demons kick you and fart in your face, and there are gravestones a’poppin’! Of course, this all pales in comparison to the first boss, Aggar. He’s a giant pile of rotting bodies, mud and general mank capped off with a devil head, which he repeatedly rips off and throws at you. Like, twenty heads at a time. What is that? Who does that?! Altered Beast does, in one of the strangest and most grotesque bosses in video game history. Seriously, you wouldn’t even see that in House of the Dead. But anyway, while most of the remaining levels are considerably more “fantasy/mythological”, that first level has always stood out to me as classic, genuine horror (albeit in a campy, slightly homo-erotic kind of way). Plus, in the last level you fight boxing goats and straight-up evil unicorns. That’s, like, some Satanic stuff right there. Just ask Francis.
Flake: The Castlevania series is pretty much side-scrolling’s ode to Halloween. You give a guy a whip and he spends the next 10 levels hitting every trope and cliche that the horror genre has to throw your way. The best part is that the developers have never made any attempt to make this approach make sense. Look at Castlevania: Bloodlines for the Genesis, for example. It’s a game that really tries to tie Castlevania’s story into the real world. You have a guy from Texas, you have multiple real European settings, heck, it even takes place during World War I and references the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand just to flesh the whole concept out.
…and then throw in a mish mash of every horror monster you can think of. Frankenstein? Sure, that works. How about a skeleton dragon? A wizard? WWI had those. Ghosts. Fish monsters from Atlantis. And don’t forget all the zombies, skeleton hordes, bats, vampires, witches, medusa…if it was ever a theme in horror, it made it into this game. Castlevania: Bloodlines stands out for three reasons: A) It’s an incredible game and really underrated in a series of incredible games. B) The inclusion of the typical Castlevania menagerie of monsters so completely undermines the premise of the game’s plot that you cannot help but love it and C) It’s only on the Genesis.
Mike Kyzivat: What a coincidence that I would get a chance to talk about Darkstalkers, when the new HD collection and a possible 4th game are in the works. Well, I guess it’s not really a coincidence since I talk about Darkstalkers all the time. It was bound to match up sooner or later. But, I talk about Darkstalkers a lot because it is a great game, with awesome animation and really interesting characters. Darkstalkers isn’t really a horror game (especially the first 2) as it is more a monster themed fighting game, with a quirky sense of humor and while that humor is still present in the 3rd game, Capcom really decided to darken up the Darkstalkers for this iteration. Gone is Sasquatches level with a bunch of cute mini-sasses smiling and watching the fight, replaced now with a distorted steam train covered in eyes and mouths…creepy. Even levels that did carry over from the first and second games have been made much more dark and bloody. Riku’s forest level is much darker and foreboding with lots more carnivorous plants. And Lord Raptor’s graveyard level is replaced with a new torture chamber level with some pretty gory used torture devices. Not only are the levels more dark and disturbing but one of the new characters added to 3, Jedah, is made entirely of blood. In his normal form he looks like an homage to the Devil Man series, but he has a habit of cutting himself and using his blood for various specials and supers. It was bloody enough that Capcom decided to tone him down for the North American release by changing the color of his blood to purple, making it seem like it was a form of energy instead. But the pinnacle of dark and disturbing has to be Jedah’s level from Darkstalkers 3. Are you sitting down? Ok, here goes. In Jedah’s level you are fighting inside a gigantic womb, complete with a giant demon fetus in the background, and lots of little stubby things protruding from the inside of the womb that look like polyps. It is hands down, the single most f’ed up level ever in a fighting game. Unless you count Bishamon’s level where once a match is won an old women in the background throws off her top and spazzes out while her to-her-knees breasts flail about. That’s a tough call. I bet you can’t wait for that HD collection now, huh?
Josh Newey: Decap Attack is an odd bird. While its general theme feels like an overall pastiche of everything horror, the pieces that comprise it come from their own brilliant fever dream reality. You play as Chuck D. Head, a mummy created by Frank N. Stein (get it?). Chuck attacks his enemies using his own intestines, and even hurls his own detached skull (get it? DO YOU GET IT?!) as a useful long-range weapon. The tone of the game is gleefully goofy, and it’s this weird take on horror that really sets it apart from most horror parody titles like Mutant League Football. Because Decap Attack was originally born in Japan as Magical Hat no Buttobi, based on an anime nobody really cared about over here, the new theme is only skin deep, making for a horror parody that feels at once refreshingly different and wonderfully familiar. Add that to a surprisingly deep and unique set of gameplay mechanics, and you’ve got a great little game that doesn’t deserve to be relegated the Genesis’s already overflowing pile of forgettable platformers. If thinking up “Bootiful” Halloween puns and listening to Monster Mash on a loop is your kind of thing, this ridiculous title is most definitely for you.
Scott Morrison: As a game, Ghostbusters is amazing. As a relation to the movie, it makes almost no sense. I think even if this game wasn’t tied to one of my favorite movies that I would still enjoy it. Take Contra-gameplay and slow it down a good bit, and make the progression of the game move upwards instead of to the right. This best describes the playstyle of Ghostbusters considering that you are making your way through the skyscrapers of New York City. You fight ghosts, poltergeists, ice demons, blob monsters, and anything else. As I said, this has little relevance to the movie other than it starring Peter, Egon, and Ray and trapping ghosts.
The coolest part about the game is probably the moment immediately following a boss battle where you must guide the boss with your proton canon into the suction of the ghost trap. This honestly feels more victorious than most boss battles, as they are pretty easy to defeat, but it’s still fun.
Ghostbusters is a great platforming adventure game for any fan of the movie, or any fan of Contra and Metal Slug games. If you are looking for a great game to play for a few hours this Halloween there is only one question you need to ask yourself. “Who ya gonna call?”
House of the Dead: Overkill
Josh Newey: Fitting in beautifully with the recent grindhouse trend, House of the Dead: Overkill is a love letter to all things gritty, bloody, disgusting, and shameless. It makes total sense that Overkill held the record for the most F-bombs for so long, as everything about this game feels carefully and intentionally tweaked to mimic every rancid, dirty tenet of B-movie horror flicks of the ’70s and ’80s. Scratchy film, lost reels, cheesy intros, borderline offensive humor, butt-ugly creatures, copious amounts of unnecessary cleavage–it’s all here. True to House of the Dead standards, the gameplay is very bare bones, but the new “Gore-gasm” score meter is absurdly satisfying (especially with that pitch-perfect gravelly-voiced announcer), and the endlessly creative presentation more than makes up for the shallow gunplay. But the cherry on top of this blood-soaked sundae is the magnetic dynamic between main characters Isaac Washington and series staple G. Their deftly written, hilarious interactions set them apart as two of the best characters ever conceived in a horror game. Yeah, I said it.
Mike Kyzivat: The plot is a continuation of the first game where you donned a mysterious mask called the “terror mask” (which transforms you into a Jason wanna-be with incredible strength) to save your kidnapped girlfriend Jennifer from being sacrificed to some inter dimensional demons. Unfortunately, you had to kill Jennifer as she was possessed by the evil demons and now the terror mask comes to you again and tells you that together you can save her from the abyss. So, you set off to the mansion to bring your girlfriend back from the dead. But enough about the plot. The violence and horror are why you are here and in its day Splatterhouse 2 was a horrific, gruesome game. Back then violence was pretty tame in videogames. Sure, you would eat a few ghosts or accidentally run over a frog, but nothing was as graphic as Splatterhouse 2. You can cave in enemy’s heads or splatter them against a brick wall with a baseball bat or 2X4. There are weird flesh portals that spew out enemies with faces even their mothers couldn’t love. The imagery is all very much inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and when you are done cleaving the enemies in half they dissolve into a pile of bright green goo. The backgrounds are always bleak and filled with dead bodies or at the very least blood smeared walls. Even your life bar is gruesome: a series of beating hearts. And I’m not talking hearts from the Legend of Zelda. I mean anatomically correct beating hearts. The bosses are even worse. The first boss, which is a sort of worm creature, eats some of the mansion’s minions before it sets its sights on you. Once defeated its belly explodes in a puddle of bile. You’re not going to find more horrific 2D sprites, unless you play it’s sequel Splatterhouse 3.
Scott Morrison: The Haunting is a game that confused the heck out of me as a kid. You play as “Polterguy,” a poltergeist who has a mission to scare a rich family out of their house by possessing furniture. What confused me at first was the fact that you could not touch any person in the game, but could collide with the furniture and objects throughout the house. Being on the Sega Genesis, there were only 3 buttons to randomly press and I soon discovered the object of this game: possess items and scare the crap out of an entire family so badly that they move out of their house, and do it with 90’s ‘tude! The game is somewhat strategic as you learn what each piece of furniture does when possessed. The game can also be sporadic as you panic when a family member leaves the room and you have to quickly follow them before their fear factor reduces. In classic 90s humor, pairs of pants will drop out of fright, eyes will bug out, and chins will hit the floor. I would always find myself possessing the same pieces of furniture to get the same reactions and somehow they would never get old. The Haunting was a game that made murder and gore hilarious to an extent as things would get stabbed, and paintings would bleed off walls. If you were not allowed to watch R-rated movies, then the Haunting could give you a ruff idea of just how corny horror movies used to be. This is a great game for a laugh with the good spirit of Halloween mixed in.
Tom Kyzivat: Classic horror exploitation at its finest! Zombie Revenge is basically a brawler version of House of the Dead, with a decidedly funky 70s cop movie flavor (if only for the half-zombie, afro-wielding, sunglasses-sporting playable character Busujima). The game is an official spin-off of House of the Dead, containing references to Thomas Rogan, The Curien Mansion and G. Whether or not G has suffered yet is unclear. Anyway, I always thought this game was a really cool concept, taking a familiar game and making it into a different genre. It plays much like Die Hard Arcade or Dynamite Cop, but with a smaller moves set. Basically, you wander around and punch zombies in the face, then you can pick up weapons and shoot zombies in the face. It’s got everything! Though I never got very far in the game, I remember the boss fights I played being pretty innovative. The first boss you face has a variety of sharp, long objects jammed into his body, and you can actually pull them out and use them on him. Dirty pool, old man! This game perfectly encompasses everything we expect from a horror-themed game: zombie hordes, monsters, ass-kicking and lots and lots of BULLETS!
Zombies Ate My Neighbors
Flake: Back in the day, horror movies were as much about entertainment and camp as they were about actually scaring the audience. Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elmstreet, and Halloween were movies that could just as easily be enjoyed for their comedic value (and obvious budgetary constraints) as their violence and terror. Zombies Ate My Neighbors is essentially “Bad Horror Movie: The Game”.
Two kids run through dozens of levels saving their neighbors from the worst of low budget horror films in all the classic settings. Zombies in the neighborhood, a chain saw killer at the mall, a giant baby running through the town, aliens in a flying saucer. Your weapons and items are one part Brucecampbell and two parts “The Goonies”. You’ll drink mysterious potions, fire rocket launchers at great beasts, and wonder why your town has so many buxom cheer leaders and why none of them seem to realize that an invasion of the undead is a terrible time to work up some team spirit. This game is the ultimate in silly spooky pre-gaming for this Halloween.