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haunted halloween 85 too many games 2016 game developers revisit 80s spielbergian terror

At TOO MANY GAMES convention in oaks, Pennsylvania, many independent developers arrived to show case the latest builds for their video games. Showcasing their passion for their games, attendees were allowed to play titles not before seen or played before. Among them was RETROTAINMENT Games, which showcased their game in a mammoth booth, featuring a huge cardboard cutout of their main character. The game they show cased was wonderful title and an original homebrew for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The game is called HAUNTED: Halloween ’85.


Stack Up Volunteer Roberto Nieves, of the New Jersey Stacks, posing at the booth of RETROTAINMENT Games at TOO MANY GAMES Gaming convention in Oaks, Pa on June 25th, 2016

HAUNTED: Halloween ’85 is a side-scrolling action platforming and beat-em up video game built from the ground-up for the Nintendo Entertainment System, which made a big headline in the past week. As a homebrew game, the developers at RETROTAINMENT were able to create a pure 8-bit video game with the speed and control of a modern game. Featuring many enemies and boss fights, the game is a thriller, charged adventure that harks back to the glorious days of B-bit gaming on the NES.

The game takes place in the fictional city of Possum Hollow. A young boy, by Donny Johnstown, is brought to a rude awakening, rising from his bed in a panic in the early afternoon sun. Donny, swept into the craze of playing video games on his NES, spent all night playing video games. Now, he is about to miss a day in school and get in big trouble. He hops out of bed and runs across the city to school. When he arrives, he notices that the school is old and deteriorated. Glass is shattered, pipes are bursting, and entire holes are in the floors and walls. Donny is baffled as he was just there literally yesterday. He then sees zombies strewn about the school closely resembling his friends. Donny notices the girl he has a crush on is not among the zombies. Donny launches an adventure to take down this paranormal threat, save the city, and save the love of his life, so long he doesn’t turn into a zombie himself!

Having played the game, myself, I had a solid play through of the very first level. The game was extremely smooth and responsive with very sharp 8-bit visuals.  In today’s gaming culture, it is common to see new video games, adopting the pixelated looks of earlier games. In some cases, it works well, but the uniqueness of HAUNTED: Halloween ’85 is that it is not emulated graphics but purely generated 8-bit visuals, which is part of the advantage of a homebrew experience. As I played the game, I greatly appreciated the presentation. It really felt genuine, as if it was no longer 2016 and this was the latest game Nintendo brought us. As I played, I really enjoyed the animation and combat system in place. It felt modern and fresh. Of course, as I was accustomed to more rescent games, I was making a lot of silly mistakes with the platforming, oftentimes falling to my death. However, it felt precise, which is fantastic.

As I neared the end of the first area, I faced an evil ghoul inside of a book case. I couldn’t help but feel that it was a special nod to the 1984 paranormal comedy classic Ghostbusters, in which a ghost moves books and shoots rack cards out of a desk like machine gun fire. It took a while to beat him, as I clobbered my fists into the shelf. However, I succeeded. Of course, by the time I reached the second area, I had lost all my lives.

While my time with the game was short, it was an incredible engaging video game, passionately built by gamers that put their televisions to channel 3 every day, and fired up their NES systems. It is easy to tell that this game was built by those who enjoyed titles, such as Metroid, Super Mario, Super Excite-bike, PUNCH-OUT, Legend of Zelda, Journey to Silius, and Sunsoft’s Batman. TOO MANY GAMES celebrated passion and enthusiasm for video games, both old and new, and HAUNTED: Halloween ’85 was a great way to display that creativity

HAUNTED: Halloween ’85 is currently available on Retrotainment’s website, with hopes to bring the game to portable handheld devices and major game consoles. A sequel was successfully funded on Kickstarter with hopes of release in the near future. For gaming collectors, the game is actually available on an NES cartridge. You can follow RETROTAINMENT Games on Facebook and Twitter for more information!

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