Haunted Halloween ’86 (Switch, NES, Xbox One, PC)

Donny and Tami are two schoolkids in 1986.  Which means they’d be about my age now.  It’s Halloween night, and they’re walking home from school to get ready to go trick or treating.  But on the way they hear about some strange noises at a farmhouse, and decide to investigate.  But they fall into a trap and now must defend their town from a zombie attack!  The game is like a cross between River City Ransom on the NES, and maybe, I dunno, Castlevania or Costume Quest, what with the Halloween themes and all.  Anyway, Haunted Halloween ’86 is available to download on most current consoles and PC, and even an old console as well!  Yeah you heard that right, at one point you could get this game as a homebrew NES cartridge!  So it’s actually running on that hardware!  But it’s reviewed on Switch here.

In the game you play as Donny and Tami, and can switch out between them.  You run left to right, and like many NES games, you can’t scroll back.  You must punch and kick all manner of zombies along your way past spooky locations like dark caves and forests.  You have a bunch of moves at your disposal, and it’s pretty complicated for a NES game.  Luckily there is a tutorial.  Depending on what difficulty you have the game set at, you’ll either have all the moves from the start, or get new moves each time you find a piece of a map.

The way your health works is a bit different.  There is no health bar, but you can tell by the color of your skin how many hits you can take.  You start off tan, but turn pale and then green with each hit.  Try not to take too many hits or you’ll turn into a zombie and lose a life!  Press select to tag the other character and play as them for a while if you are low on health.  Collect candy corn to refill your energy and turn back to normal.  It’s a neat idea, but I wish there were a health bar anyway.

You can continue with passwords (this is a NES game after all), or tackle an “Onslaught” mode where you try and defeat as many waves of zombies as possible in a single room (which happens to be an 80’s arcade).  For a NES game, the graphics are pretty impressive with good use of color and parallax scrolling.  I certainly would’ve rented this game at least once as a kid.  Unfortunately the game is just too hard, even on the easy setting.  Hit detection feels a little off, and you don’t always come to a stop when I’d like, which is only problematic during platform jumping sections.  But it’s still interesting to play a new NES game after all these years, and might be worth checking out if you’re curious.

Kid Factor:

Haunted Halloween ’86 is rated E-10 with an ESRB descriptor of Fantasy Violence.  You can punch and kick all sorts of pixelly zombie monsters that disappear when defeated.  But about the worst you do is knock off their heads with an uppercut.  Reading skill is needed for the text, and younger gamers may find it too difficult.

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment

Tired of typing this out each time? Register as a subscriber!