Reviewed by: Brett H.
“The game where HE comes home!”
Ahhh, the Atari 2600. A system before my time that over the years has put smiles on my face time and time over. After stumbling onto an Activision plug-n-play unit with a dozen games, I found myself attracted to the simplistic controls of Freeway and Pitfall; solid, pick'er up and give'r hell fun. My fondest memories of this time were the many 'wtf moments' I encountered when I began collecting Atari games. They made a fucking Porky's video game? Awesome! XXX titles? I gotta see this shit! And yes, the one that I adored most, a game based on Halloween published by none other than Wizard! A very expensive game, so I had to buy a reproduction cart to experience it. The object of the game has the player controlling a babysitter and your job is to save children by finding them in a two story house and bringing them to safe rooms at either end of the screens, all while avoiding a knife wielding maniac. If you want to get technical, the game, manual, nor box never says it's Michael Myers nor Laurie Strode. I can understand Laurie perhaps not being a household name in '83... but how do they not have the name "Michael Myers" scrolled all over the artwork?
Three jack-o-lanterns atop the screen signify your life count and Carp's Halloween theme is played constantly throughout, but never continuously. The awesomely faithful 2600 version does grate on you since it starts whenever Myers... err the psycho... enters the screen, which is just about always, halting immediately after. In a nutshell, you hear the iconic opening a million times and not much else. But in the moments you're on the top floor rescuing a child and the lights begin to flicker on and off, it's neat as hell. There's even a knife you can use to stab Myers, though it is risky and he will never die, the attack provides you with points that allow you to advance to the next level of difficulty. The same can be said for rescuing children, a safer method that takes longer to advance. When Michael catches you (and he will), you're treated to the game's coup de grace; a blood spurting decapitation of either yourself or the child you let down. It is brutal and hilarious all at the same time. Control-wise, it works. You press a button to take a kid into your posession and you dodge Myers accordingly in an attempt to get them to the safe rooms. Repetitive, yes, yet my main concern and knock on the game is sometimes the kid will just vanish as you leave a screen. For no reason I can tell, you can't rescue some kids. Halloween is slower in pace compared to greats like Astroblast, though it could be said its sluggishness is to drive up the tension Carpenter style, right?. Eh... really, Halloween gets major points for me as a fan of the movie and video games since it actually is relevant to its film inspiration and I can tell what every graphic on the screen is, something that can make or break a 2600 game. Repetitiveness is an issue here, but when Michael Myers is on your ass and you're about to hit your new high score, you get the feeling in your chest like you were doing it in Stampede - it's a matter of pride. Halloween is fun, simple, and anyone can play. Have you played Atari today? Rent it!
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