Friday, November 5, 2010

Review--Haunted House (2010)

So I mentioned a little while back that Atari was updating the 2600 classic "Haunted House" after almost thirty years. I picked the game up a couple weeks ago, and I have been having a lot of fun with it.

In the 2010 version of haunted House, you play as one of the grandchildren of Samuel Silverspring, the protagonist of the original game.

You can choose to play as either his grandson Jacob, or his granddaughter Silvia. Samuel disappeared thirty years ago, and the grandkids get a strange letter that leads them to head to Graves Mansion to find out what really happened to granddad.

Like the original game, "Haunted House" has you exploring a creepy mansion and trying to put together the pieces of a magical urn (as well as solve the mystery of Samuel's disappearance). Much of the gameplay takes place in the dark, and players have to find light sources like matches, candlesticks and flashlights to help light their way and (in the case of the flashlight), fend off the ghostly enemies that populate the mansion. There are several floors to explore, with many rooms in the mansion requiring keys that must be found in the various chests, desks, dressers and other containers that are in different rooms. Along the way you face ghosts, bats and other supernatural creatures that can literally paralyze you with fear, as well as drain your health.

The controls in "Haunted House" are pretty simple, as you use the nunchuk to navigate, and tasks like opening containers, scrolling through belongings and using light sources are assigned to various buttons. When a ghost or other enemy freezes you, shaking the Wiimote will get your character to snap out of it and get moving again. Everything works well together, and even younger kids should be able to pick up the controls in a relatively short amount of time. The game also offers checkpoints in the form of fireplaces that, once lit, will serve as a save point should you die. Those looking for additional challenge can ramp up the difficulty, where enemies are more deadly and

What I liked most about the game is the sense of creepiness that you immediately feel by being plunged into darkness. Even the cartoonish graphics don't dull the sense of panic you feel when you run low on light sources and can hear ghostly moans or approaching footsteps in the vicinity. It's fun and scary at the same time, a perfect combination for younger players, and still really enjoyable for adults. You can also play two-player local co-op, so if it's a little too creepy for your little ones playing alone, you can always jump in and help.

I am really happy with the new "Haunted House," as the game keeps the spirit of the original and builds on the simple gameplay without changing too much. You can grab the Wii version on disc for $20 (like I did), or get the PC and XBox 360 downloadable version for $10. Either way, it's well worth the money if you enjoyed the original, or are looking for a fun and spooky family game.

4 out of 5 Don't Be Afraid Of The Darks

You should also check out the game's official website,, as you can play the original Atari 2600 version of the game there for free!

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