13 October 2014

Jumping Right In! GAME ONE: GHOST HOUSE (1986)

(For those jumping in chronologically the FAQ/Mission Statement/Info to Blog Project Post will be the one following this.)

Publisher/Developer:  Sega
Format: Sega Card
Game Size: 32K
Rarity:  3
Game Type: 2d Action Platformer
Region: USA
Power Base Convertor Playable?: Yes, 6 Button Pad Capable.

Price I Paid: 12.95
Price I Would Pay: 7.50 Bucks US
Condition: Game, Manual, Case, Promotional Poster
Game Rating: OK
My History:  Never played before.

(Title Screen)

(Box/Media Photo)

(Kega Fusion Screenshot: Here I am avoiding flame throwing Goatsce Monster and seeing a nice health and score booster on the top level.)

 (Master System play.  Pause doesn't want to work for some reason on my unit so enjoy monsters in motion I guess.  I think the ghost is quite popular.)

(SMS Screenshot From Commodore 1084 Monitor: Here we are in the bottom level of the round avoiding fire.  There is the usual SMS color bleed but it isn't actually too bad in this game. )

(Genesis With Power Base Convertor on 1084 Monitor: I have punched five Draculas in the face and now the exit is glowing above.  Note the casket in front of me.)

 (I have used the key here in palette shifted Round 2 and the Dracula is in his not larger than normal Bat bat form for a couple seconds.  Just above me where I can't do anything about it.  Round 2 also adds in Mummies to fight.)

(Jump at the candelabras and then jump again to land on the sword for extra reach for a couple of swings at the monsters.  Jump into the cobwebs and have to wiggle out.  Jump into the overhead lamp and stun the nasties for a minute.  Enter the doors to pop out elsewhere.)

  In Ghost House you play Mick who is apparently an Elf and has to retrieve the FAMILY JEWELS (durr hurr!) from Count Dracula's crappy mansion.  You do this by punching monsters until you get a key which can open up one of the five coffins on each horizontally scrolling/vertical flick screen round.  You then punch or stab the Dracula to get his gem and a full life bar heal and hopefully avoid him punching you down a ladder to the other levels so you have to fight him again where he will try to do so again.  In between turning to a big ass bat and taking away your life bar bit by bit.  Once you do this five times an exit will appear and you can enter to the next round where there will be a new layout but the same basic graphics, though sometimes with a new monster and palette changes.

 Control is fairly decent, with Mick capable of jumping, stabbing, ducking, and climbing up and down the ladders the nasty monsters will try to hit you down.  Environmental hazards like spider webs you have to wiggle your way out of if you jump into them, fire pits to damage you, barely concealed false floors to fall down, and arrows firing at you help to impede your progress alongside the monsters.  (On an emulator the false floors are generally easily spotted.)  About half the monsters in the game cause knockback and the aforementioned ladder fall down thing which can be irritating as all get out.

 The audio is ok with a couple of musical tunes based on what is going on.  However a couple of the monsters make some REALLY annoying sounds, all but begging you to murder them just to quiet things down.  Sound also helps to let you know when you are actually hurting things as opposed to just the graphics.

 Sadly the manual is full of adorably bad art and doesn't inform you of a lot of important things.  Like how you can jump on most monsters to defeat them.  Nor does it inform you how to get the sword.  (Jump at a candelabra and then jump on top of the sword as it shoots at you.  You can also do this on arrows to get bonus points.)  It doesn't really mention you can sometimes crawl through false walls or that you can press UP at doorways to be teleported to a different section of the castle layout, both of which are kind of essential to get to all five coffins.  Nor does it mention that said sword only has a limited number of hits on monsters before you have to grab another one.

 It does helpfully explain that you get bonus lives at 50,000 and 150,000 points and gives you the score values for six rounds, five monsters, and the treasures (which are question marks).

 So what do I think?  Well in my usual hour or so of playing I was initially irritated because the manual doesn't exactly explain ANYTHING much at all.  But a bit of putzing around I figured most of it out without having to go watch a video on Youtube or whatever.

 Once I got the hang of it I started having fun and will play it more.  If you like games of a VERY old school early 80s computer/arcade 2d platformer you should have some fun with it.  Obviously it is only 32K of data so it isn't the most audiovisually advanced game ever, and the lack of continues, passwords, and annoying monsters cheesing you down to the lower screen levels among other life draining antics will cause a bit of frustration as you learn to memorize the rounds and figure out where to go and what order.

Master System Play:  The graphics required me to turn the brightness up a bit, but overall the SMS video output isn't too rough on this game overall.  It controls fairly well with the Control Pad and the Control Stick, and this was the first time I ever played a game using said Left Button Stick!

So its really just OK.  It isn't as bad as I recall most reviews make it out to be, but it is certainly nothing special.  But if you like more early 80s styled games you might want to give it a shot.

Next Review:  Continuing with the games I have never played before voting options I gave Something Awful and the #retrochat channel on SYNIRC, we will be covering BLACK BELT.

EDIT:  Actually no.  Next review will be GHOSTBUSTERS since it is October.  Next month will be 2D FIGHTAN MAN MONTH starring BLACK BELT and VIGILANTE!

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