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RELEASE DATE (NA): 1981 GENRE: Action/Adventure
// review by Stingray

Just a creaky old house.

You pause at the gate to the old house. Looking up toward the old Graves Estate, it occurs to you that the story could be something out of a horror movie, and you chuckle. An old recluse dies in his run down house. Rumors of a magical urn that was broken during an earthquake lying in wait for someone brave enough to venture in and a powerful scepter that warded off evil spirits float about. You push all the nonsense out of your mind and open the gate. Slowly you walk up the font steps as the stories push their way back into your mind. The noises of footsteps and eerie sounds. The flashing lights. And, of course, the ghostly figure of Old Man Graves himself. The steps creek under your weight. And as you grab for the door knob, a chill runs down your spine. They're just stories you tell yourself. Made up. There is no such thing as ghosts. But what if there is? Are you brave enough to continue your adventure in the HAUNTED HOUSE?

This is the story that is presented to you in Haunted House, which was originally released for the Atari 2600 in 1981.

With only the light of a match, you must guide your way through the six rooms on each of the four floors. The three pieces of the urn are located somewhere in one of the rooms, but that may not be the only thing you encounter. Spiders and bats will also be roaming the halls, and even the ghost of Old Man Graves will try to thwart your attempts. But if you are able to find the scepter, you can turn the tides in your favor.

Nothing says scary quite like a really dark background...through the entire game!

The challenging thing about the game is that you can only carry one item at a time. So should you go for the next urn piece or continue to carry the scepter? Luckily, the urn pieces automatically combine. So if you pick up one while carrying one, it will become one item which is most helpful. The scepter is a great find but is not necessary to complete the game. It makes it easier as it keeps the baddies from giving you chase.

I like to point out the good things in a game rather than the bad. To build it up (if possible) instead of tearing it down. Yes, this game is simple. Go in, get the pieces, and get out. Yes, it has crude graphics. But Atari was able to do something with this little idea. They made a fun game with nine difficulty settings, some of which includes locked doors between the rooms and an added skeleton key you must find. Those weird square eyes surrounded with the flicker of a match light has a certain charm to it.

And I'm not one to typically get wrapped up in the story of a game, but this one just intigues me. It is simple all around, but there is a depth to the game and the story that is usually not found in early consoles such as the Atari 2600.

When I first looked at this game, I expected to give it a low score, but the more I researched it and played it, the more I grew to enjoy the game, not for what it didn't give me, but for what it did. And isn't that the best thing you can say about a game?

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