Ghost Manor

Atari 2600

Review by Rob "Dire 51"



Graphics: 7

Sound: 7

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 8

Oh no! Dracula has kidnapped a friend of yours and has imprisoned them in his dank castle! You must work your way through the castle to Dracula's chamber and save them! But if you don't save your friend and get out by dawn, you'll both be trapped there forever!

A fairly hackneyed plot there, to be sure, and one that's been used in countless videogames since, but at the time there were few other games like Xonox's Ghost Manor. The horror theme had only been used a few times before (most notably in Atari's own Haunted House), and Ghost Manor introduced a new novelty to the genre... hell, to videogames in general. By using the color/b&w switch, you could now choose whether or not you wanted to be a boy or a girl. It's not a feature which has been seen much sense, at least with generic characters.

You begin the game outside the Ghost Manor, standing in a graveyard. Depending on which position you have the difficulty switches in (these control, among other things, the amount of spears you collect for use in stage two, whether or not you have the lamp, the speed of the Chopping Mummy, the moving walls and Dracula, and more), you'll see either a Rainbow Ghost or a skeleton named Bones. Chase whichever one around the graveyard and tag them whenever they're floating over a tombstone. Each time you successfully tag them, you get a spear added to your inventory. Once you've reached the amount of spears set by selectingthe difficulty, you warp to stage two.

Now you're directly in front of the Ghost Manor. Flying above you are numerous creatures, all of which must be shot and killed (this stage is reminiscent of such overhead SHMUPS like Space Invaders and Galaga). Directly above you is the Chopping Mummy. He walks from side to side, hacking away at you with his axe. Luckily he has a set pattern, and can be easy enough to avoid. You can't shoot him until you've disposed of all of the other creatures. Should you run out of ammo, you'll have no choice but to let him kill you.

Once you've successfully killed all of the creatures and the Chopping Mummy, you find yourself in the first floor of the Ghost Manor. A wall is moving from side to side. You must avoid the wall (although if you push on it from behind, you'll rack up bonus points) and open coffins (by pressing down on them) until you find a cross, which will appear in your inventory. Once you've found it, go up the flight of stairs. Then you'll find yourself on the next floor, which is nearly identical to the first floor, but with a different layout. Find the cross here, then proceed up the next flight of stairs.

Now you're in Dracula's chamber. You can see your friend being held in the left prison on the tp of the screen. Dracula descends toward you - what you must do is press the button to ward him off with the cross, and drive him backwards up into one of the two prisons. Each cross (you receive a third when you enter Dracula's chamber) only lasts for a few seconds, so move quickly! Should you succeed in imprisoning Dracula, your friend will emerge from the prison and approach you like a zombie. Position yourself by the flight of stairs, and when your friend reaches you, push up - and you'll be rewarded with a victory screen showing you and your friend standing in front of the Ghost Manor, which is sinking into the ground.

Oh, did I mention that the timer is going from the minute you start the game? Don't dawdle!

Ghost Manor had fairly decent graphics for its time. Everything looks like what it's supposed to - you can tell whether or not you're a boy or a girl, and all of the monsters look just like what they're supposed to represent (bats look like bats, skulls look like skulls and so on). There are a couple of musical pieces - one opens the game, one plays throughout the game, and there is a victory theme. All of those sound pretty good. There are very few problems with the controls either - you can tell that this game was playtested before it was released. However, your character can get hung up on walls and coffins from time to time, which can be somewhat annoying - and deadly, especially if you can't get out of the way of the moving wall.

Ghost Manor, more often than not, can be found as one end of the unique Xonox "Double Ender" cartridges (the games on the other side are usually either Artillery Duel, Spike's Peak or Chuck Norris Superkicks). There is also a rarer, single game version of Ghost Manor. If you're into horror games at all, why not check Ghost Manor out?


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Last updated: Sunday, October 31, 2004 12:19 PM