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Reviews (0-9 / A-M)

Haunted Castle

988 (1-2 Players)



Overview and game play

Haunted Castle is a horizontally scrolling platform game for 1-2 players. Upon depositing a coin, (or 2 coins for 2 players) an animation begins showing a man and woman leaving a church having just been married. As they walk along the road outside the church, a sinister looking character that resembles the infamous count Dracula swoops down from the sky and abducts the woman. The man is left standing alone and the next scene shows him adorned in different clothes: a tunic; a headband and boots and carrying a whip to attack all enemies who stand between him and his mission of rescuing his new wife.



Hanging around is not a good idea in Haunted Castle. A time limit is set for each stage in the game, which is shown in the top right hand corner of the screen. As the player makes his way through each stage, the whip he is equipped with can be used to attack oncoming enemies. One touch from an enemy, and a segment of the players energy is lost from an on-screen energy meter. Energy can be replenished by finding hearts that appear when some enemies are killed. Little hearts restore one unit of energy and big hearts restore more. Some enemies leave behind a weapon that the player can use such as a bomb or boomerang. When collected, a picture of the new weapon is displayed at the centre of the top of the screen with a number below it denoting how many units of that weapon the player is carrying. The gameís designers invented an ingenious way in which one can use a collected weapon. By pressing button 1 (to fire) and up on the joystick, one unit of the collected weapon will be fired. The player has the choice of using the whip or the collected weapon and this choice is a welcome strategic element that adds to the game play. Some players may use the weapon immediately or choose to keep their collected weapon for use at the end of a stage when they must encounter and defeat a boss character. Upon completing a stage, a map will be displayed to show the player where they are and how much further they must travel to reach their goal.



The backgrounds in Haunted Castle are well drawn and convey a dark and evil world though which the hero must travel in search of his wife. The designers used simple dynamic weather effects such as adding rain, night and day to create added realism. Since 1988, (when Haunted Castle was released), game designers have developed weather and environmental effects in games to create real-time environments that change whenever a new game is played and do not feature the same weather effects at the same points in the game each time the game is played, (as in Haunted Castle). Mist and fog graphics are also used in Haunted Castle to create appropriate mood among players as well as parallax scrolling to add to the realism. The player also uses platforms and stairs to traverse the varied locations, with separate animations for each action. Climbing or descending stairs is easily done by pressing either diagonally up or down in the direction the hero is facing.



The enemies the player must face are all what one might expect to find in a 1980ís horror film. Bats and skeletons that throw bones at the player each have their own unique animations, which are clear and detailed. The sprite-based graphics of the enemies is good for a pre-1990ís game and the game has enough surprises in its design to keep players entertained. Zombies that have had part of their flesh eaten rise from the ground in a way similar to those in another game, Ghosts ní Goblins. The boss characters that appear at the end of each stage are drawn well and have unique attack patterns for the player to deal with.



Haunted castle features pleasing digitised music and sound effects that add much to the atmosphere and mood of the game. A nice touch is that depositing a coin causes an eerie wolf howl. The music accompanying the introductory animation is the standard wedding anthem that suddenly stops as the vampire kidnaps the heroís wife. The in-game music is pleasant and consists of mid-tempo melodies that are well suited to an action game. The sound effects are also an appropriate representation of the on-screen action. The heroís whip cracks realistically; rain beats against the earth convincingly and enemies make a variety of death sounds that add much to the game play experience..



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