STAFF REVIEW of Haunted Halloween '86 (Xbox One)

Thursday, February 14, 2019.
by Brent Roberts

Haunted Halloween '86 Box art In the time I'm calling the golden era of gaming, children around the world flocked to their NES systems to engage the cartridge and set off of their adventure. Retrotainment Games set off on a task to help recreate that exact sensation. Priced at $9.99, Haunted Halloween '86 (The Curse of Possum Hollow) is designed to deliver the 8-Bit nostalgia that will hit us older gamers right in the feels and take us down a memory lane of Saturday morning cartoons with cereal, sunny days that turned into nights of playing outside and so much more.

I'm about to say something that is going to make some people very upset. I feel that a lot of gamers today are spoiled in gaming thanks to innovations that have evolved over the decades. Back in the 1980's gamers had a handful of lives, and even less chances to increase them throughout the entire game. If you failed? Then you got a game over and had to start all the way over from the beginning. Haunted Halloween '86 delivers the same twitch happy platforming experience that we have seen back in those golden ages of gaming.

There is a steep learning curve for this, and I know it sounds odd for me to say about some 8-Bit platformer, however, since you don't have analog support (big drawback for me), you'll have to get used to some very sensitive D-Pad action which will almost certainly be the difference between losing a life or getting through the level. This type of hair trigger jumping style is only complicated by the numerous types of enemies you'll face. However, it's up to you to figure out how enemies are dispatched.

The controls though of this game are incredibly simplistic. Just as before with the NES controller, you will only need to use the A and B buttons, as A is your jump and B is attack. To take advantage of the extra inputs on a more modern controller, gamers are given the ability to switch between fighters, each with have their own special abilities. To say that mastering this is easy would be a lie, so to help make things easier, Haunted Halloween '86 allows you to collect green cans that apparently act as lives. Some people have green mushrooms, some have green cans.

The story follows up the Haunted Halloween '85 tale and brings back the main character in a new adventure that happens to be very similar to their last. This time however, there are many... many differences... in many... ways. I never played Haunted Halloween '85 so I can't really compare the two plot lines, but if you and I are honest with one another, that's not why you're playing this game. You're playing it for the achievements.

Yes, that is the best thing, by a mile, about this game; the achievements. You can rack up 1000 Gamerscore in less than 15 minutes without any hassle. To be fair to this game, I did end up playing through it past the 1000 Gamerscore to give the plot a chance to entertain, and I can honestly say that it did deliver that nostalgic feeling that I was looking for, but not the quality I was expecting. I did enjoy the classic feeling, but even games released back in 1986 delivered better stories than this.

All throughout this review I've stated that this is an 8-Bit graphic layout, and both the visuals and audio pay significant homage to the time period. One of the hardest things to do would be to simulate shadowy areas, however, thanks to the graphical restrictions, you'll find yourself pausing while trying to distinguish what you can and cannot jump onto. Even the classic Super Mario Bros did their underground areas in a method that was easy to identify, but sadly not here.

While yes, you'll get a sense of a period of time when life was simpler and much better, the execution of Haunted Halloween '86 leaves little to be desired. While attempts are made to deliver that experience, the execution seems to be lacking intently. I would identify Haunted Halloween '86 as that one cartoon that was in the middle of your "Saturday Morning Cartoon" block that just didn't deliver that same "wow" factor as your favorites did. Remember, this is costing you $9.99 to experience this yourself, but is $9.99 worth 1000 Gamerscore boost in less than 15 minutes? That's a mystery you'll have to solve for yourself.

Overall: 5.0 / 10
Gameplay: 5.0 / 10
Visuals: 5.0 / 10
Sound: 5.0 / 10


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