Your Daily McMaster: your old-school Halloween ho-down

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With the recent release of the Internet Archive Historical Software section, the gaming world has access to some, er, classics that can be emulated straight into a browser. The library isn’t so big right now, but new titles are coming all the time. Looking through the archive, I see some games that could easily qualify for a spooky night of videogaming. In 1982.

After the jump, won’t you take me to spookytown?

Castle Wolfenstein (1981) Muse
First up in our tour of horror, we look at the original Castle Wolfenstein. This isn’t the one you’re expecting, featuring BJ Blazkowicz gunning down Nazis and become more and more haggard in your character portrait. Hah, no, not that one. This one is a 2D platformer that features stealth mechanics used to steal secret Nazi plans!

Why it’s scary: Nazis!
Link: Castle Wolfenstein

Hi-Res Adventure #1: Mystery House (1980) On-line Systems
The first game by husband and wife super team Ken and Roberta Williams. Part text, part really crappy graphics, Mystery House invites the player to enter a… mystery house and survive. Turns out there are seven other people in the house and one of them is a killer. The goal is — you guessed it — to uncover the murderer. Also, to not die.

Why it’s scary: murder!
Link: Hi-Res Adventure #1: Mystery House

Microsoft Adventure (1981) Microsoft
The game that named the genre, Microsoft Adventure is quite the offering. The original game was created by a spelunking enthusiast (Will Crowther) and based on Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Later on, the game was re-discovered and expanded by a Tolkien nerd (Don Woods) to add more elements of actual adventure.

Why it’s scary: they might have a cave troll!
Link: Microsoft Adventure

Akalabeth (1980) California Pacific Computer
This game is quite a big deal. In 1979, Richard “Lord British” Garriott created Akalabeth as a hobby project. When completed he showed it to his boss at the time who wanted to distribute it to their customers. Garriott put the game in plastic bags with some artwork drawn by his mom to serve as cover art. A year later, the game was picked up by California Pacific Computer and distributed to a much wider audience.

Why it’s scary: in the 80’s, anything to do with the occult or the devil was the scariest thing in the world.
Link: Akalabeth

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) Atari
I saved the best, most horrific gaming experience for last. In 1982, E.T. was the biggest movie in the world. Everyone fell in love with Reeses Pieces, Drew Barrymore, and a rubber suit with big eyes. Atari, seeing the chance to capitalize on the latest Spielberg phenomenon, negotiated the video game rights for the hit movie. The negotiations lasted a lot longer than initially thought, giving the developer Howard Scott Warshaw only five and a half weeks to complete the project before the Christmas season. What he created in that short amount of time is one of the worst video games to grace any system. In the game, you have a limited amount of power or something that drains as you play the game. If you fall in a hole — and you will fall in a hole — you have to levitate to the top in the world’s most tortuously slow magic trick. In fact, that’s most of the game. The release of E.T. heralded the video game crash of 1983 and the long, painful dismantling and destruction of the original Atari. As the urban legend goes, there’s a landfill full of E.T. cartridges if you want to get an original copy. Otherwise, just click the link and prepare to be horrified.

Why it’s scary: the worst commercial game release in the history of gaming.
Link: E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

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