Horror and gaming are a perfect match – with the interactivity of games heightening the realism of scares and horror traditions making a perfect backdrop for video game action. Most horror fans are familiar with the blockbuster titles of the genre; such as the well received recent Friday the 13th inspired games. But horror movies have made the jump into the world of gaming since the very beginning; with adaptations popping up in the arcade, on home consoles, in themed horror slot games, and on mobile platforms. Here are five lesser known examples that might surprise you.
Alien vs. Predator
Made many years before the Alien vs Predator crossover film, this game was actually a pack-in game included with the ill-fated Atari Jaguar console. Released in 1994, this game was among the only positive points critics could find about the system – which was cancelled due to poor sales after only a couple of years. The game takes place in the Golgotha Training Base, amid an evacuation when the area is overtaken by aliens. Soon a predator ship arrives at the base with the aim of hunting down the influx of xenomorphs.
Digitised images with complicated compression helped in the making of this early example of 3D gaming – giving players at the time an entirely new horror experience in the third dimension. The option to play as the alien, the predator or a marine also won over a lot of fans in an era where this was rare. It set the stage for the horror games which would follow, though sadly didn’t quite get the reception it deserved due to being on the doomed Atari console.
The Evil Dead
Going back to the 1980s, and we find Ash and the deadites in perhaps the last place you would expect. Launching before the Nintendo Entertainment System set the standard for home consoles, this adaptation was actually designed for microcomputers of the era. The Commodore 64, BBC Micro and ZX Spectrum all saw releases in 1984.
The Evil Dead was the first adaptation of the franchise into video game form – and remained that way all the way up to the 2000s. The limitations of the hardware are clear in all versions, though in comparison to other games of the era it had some impressive moments. The title screen featured classic poster art recreated with very limited pixels, and the actual gameplay was quite advanced for the time.
Whether it’s the original Japanese chiller or the US remake, the films in the Ring series are considered excellent examples of eerie, slow burning horror. With the plot of the franchise being focused on VHS technology, it seems like the perfect story to translate into a video game. Surprisingly however, there has only been one real attempt to translate the tale of a cursed supernatural video into digital form.
Ring: Terror’s Realm was released on another console that sadly died before it’s time. The final home console released by SEGA – the Dreamcast- never reached the heights that the company hoped, yet gained a cult following who continue to love and develop homebrew for the system. The game was a survival horror, more than a little inspired by the success of Resident Evil. The comparisons were unfavourable and the game sold poorly, but it’s still an interesting little known piece of horror history.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
When it comes to the slashers, Jason often gets all the glory. The masked killer has seen recent game adaptations become best sellers, and even his early appearance on the Nintendo Entertainment System has been commemorated with action figures and artwork. But his rival Freddy, while he has made some video game appearances, is not nearly as high profile in gaming.
Freddy first came to consoles with 1989 releases on the Commodore and NES. The game featured a range of slightly silly enemies that had little to do with the movies, but also a ‘Sleep Meter’ with the ability to move between reality and nightmares. It’s an incredibly dated game, but an interesting addition to the Freddy franchise. It was reportedly set to be far more violent, but developers were forced to replace many of the concepts (such as stalking and killing teenagers) to avoid censorship.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Going right back to the beginning of the home console revolution, we find one of the very first attempts to bring scares to gaming. All the way back on the Atari 2600, Leatherface actually beat more prolific slasher villains to the party.
Barely more than stick figures and in a very limited range of colours, this relic still managed to cause controversy when it was released in the early 80s. The goal of killing teenagers with a chainsaw was the main source of complaint, which explains why games to follow would often emit this element of the works they were based on.
We hope you enjoyed this look at gaming adaptations of horror movies. What are some of your favourite modern and retro horror inspired titles?