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31 DAYS OF HORROR GAMES From Old School Gaming Fans

My first horror game was Dark Castle. I was around 6 or 7 years old when I would play it on the Macintosh computer in my parents’ bedroom. I will never forget the frustration I felt at the fucking squealing rats and flapping bats and robot zombies (?) swarming around me, the ridiculous sound effects, and the rudimentary graphics that captivated my young mind and whiled away hours of my life. Thanks to Old School Gaming Fans, I can relive that helpless and frustrated feeling again as I look through M. Buster’s list of 31 Days of Horror Games! If you played video games in the 80s and 90s, or if you’re interested in the history of video games, check out this amazing list of horror-inspired games from around the world. Hopefully, you’ve played some of these, and they can take you back to a more pixelated time…

A Personal Nightmare (1989) by Horror Soft for DOS and Amiga


You receive a strange letter from your father, a pastor, so you decide to return to your village to investigate. Upon your return, you father is missing and the other villagers are acting strangely. It is up to you to unravel the mystery of the town, and confront the malevolent forces behind it! Plus, it features Elvira, which is always a bonus.

– M. Buster

Nosferatu the Vampyre by Design Design (screenshots from Amstrad CPC version, 1986)


There are three stages to complete. In the first you play Johnathan Harker, who must retrieve some papers (he works for an Estate Agent’s) and escape the castle. The second level introduces Johnathan’s wife Lucy, and van Helsing, with play switching between the three. Lucy’s role is slightly different as it is she who pursues the vampire itself, and she takes on the task alone in level 3. Food must be collected to keep the characters’ strength up, and crucifixes and candles can be picked up to help matters.

– M. Buster

The Lurking Horror, an interactive fiction by Infocom (1987)


“Despite a terrible snowstorm, a young G.U.E. Tech student travels to the school’s computer lab to work on his grad paper. However, something strange has happened. The file containing the student’s document has been partially overwritten by the Department of Alchemy’s files. At first the student’s only goal is to retrieve his lost document, but soon he realizes that something far more sinister is occurring in the depths of the school building.

The Lurking Horror is Infocom’s only horror-themed text adventure game. The game is set in the haunted school building, in the midst of a blizzard that rendered escape impossible. The player explores the environments and has to solve puzzles to overcome obstacles. There are hostile creatures in the game, most of which must be defeated or outsmarted by using specific items.”

If you enjoy the works of H.P. Lovecraft, you will enjoy this game.

M. Buster

Ooze: Creepy Nites (Atari ST) by Dragonware Games (1988)

“Ooze – a illustrated text adventure: Your uncle Chez Burger left you a house called Carfax Abbey, placed in a little town in the southeast of Salom’s Lot. As Ham Burger you are heir to something evil and sinister on a frightening and exciting journey into the world of ghosts and demons.”

M. Buster

Splatterhouse (Arcade) by Namco (1988)

“Rick and his girlfriend Jennifer enter West Mansion (known as Splatterhouse) to study Dr. West’s parapsychology teachings for a school project. After a flash of lightning and a scream, Jennifer is gone, and Rick is left wearing the Terror Mask, which gives the wearer great strength.

Rick must survive seven blood-soaked levels full of corpses, demons, and other disturbing creatures in this arcade side-scrolling beat-em-up. Several weapons are at Rick’s disposal throughout the house, such as a meat cleaver, a two by four, and a shotgun. If Rick wants to find Jennifer alive, he must move quickly through the floors of the mansion…. as a happy reunion is not always guaranteed.”

M. Buster

Clive Barker’s Nightbreed: The Interactive Movie (Amiga, 1990)

“Based off of Clive Barker’s movie “Nightbreed” (which is based of Barker’s novella Cabal). You play Aaron Boone, the main character from both the book and the movie. Boone is attempting to get to a planet of bliss called Midian. His attempts at gaining acceptance goes wrong when he is bitten by a cannibal, and the Police of Earth find Midian and set out to destroy it. Boone must stop them.”

M. Buster

Ghost Chaser (Atari 8-bit) by Fanda (1984)

“Harry the Ghost Chaser enters the haunted Fairport Manor and wants to drive out the ghosts that settle in that place.

You control Harry on his mission. The game features sixteen screens that Harry must traverse: the attic, the kitchen, the library, the sewers and more. Ghosts roam the corridors and must be avoided or jumped over. The first few times Harry is touched by a ghost, he is not killed immediately, but merely immobilized from the shock. But further attacks from ghosts and also high falls may kill him. Thankfully Harry can defend himself and throw stones at some of the ghosts to kill them. The doors to the next rooms are often locked, so Harry must find keys to open them. The game can be played by one player or two players taking turns.”

M. Buster

Phantom (BBC Micro) by Tynesoft Computer Software (1987)

“Inspired by the game Gauntlet, Phantom is a top view maze game where the screen scrolls left or right when you move. You are a Professor of Astro-Physics, and with an interest in Psychic Phenomena, you have been sent to investigate four buildings to remove any evil that resides there. You have discovered that each building contains ghosts, monsters and transporters (apparitions that are a gateway to Hell), so with your high powered laser, you must clear four floors of each building.

Touching any of the evil decrease an energy counter and when this reaches zero then it is game over but you can find food to increase it. Use of your laser decreases a gauge but you can find fuel to keep it topped up and there are different types which speed up and make your laser more powerful. As you explore each floor you will find locked doors so keys are needed to open them and there are other items to help you like bombs, radio-immobiliser to stun ghosts and glucose pills to speed up. Once you have cleared a floor then you can use stairs to take you to the next floor.”

M. Buster

Project Firestart by Dynamix for the Commodore 64 (1989)

“Project Firestart is one of the progenitors of the survival horror genre. In the future (2066) a genetic experiment (Project Firestart) onboard the Prometheus to get strong durable miners went wrong. Your job is to go onboard the Prometheus (which has been out of radio contact) and find out what happened. You will end up fighting monsters, gathering information on what really happened, and have a chance to save a survivor.”

M. Buster

Dracula by Imagic for Intellivision (1983)

“As the sun sets, Dracula rises, hungry for the blood of fresh victims. As Dracula, the goal of this game is to stalk the streets at night, feeding on people walking the streets, or by luring them out of their homes. As Dracula bites his victims, his actions will call the attention of the local constable who will try to slow him down by driving a stake into him. Dracula can respond by either turning one of his victims into zombies to attack the police, or by transforming into a bat to escape capture. Even the forces of nature are against the vampire, as wolves will attack him on foot, and hawks will drag away his bat form. Dracula must feed on a certain number of victims and return to his tomb before sunrise, or he will not survive to feed another night.”

M. Buster

Demon’s Tomb: The Awakening (DOS) by Silhouette Software (1989)

“A famed archaeologist named Edward Lynton disappears mysteriously. Richard, his teenager son, sets out to discover what happened with his father. Unbeknown to him, the evil god Darsuggotha is trying to ascend from his dimension and incarnate on a heathen priest called Tzen. Richard must stop him, as the demon is bent on destroying the world. Demon’s Tomb: The Awakening is a text adventure set on England on modern times. The game starts with a prologue to the rest of the game, where the player controls the main character’s father while he is fighting for his life. After this brief prelude, the story jumps to 16 years-old Richard and his search for his father in Britain’s moors.”

M. Buster

Laser Ghost by SEGA (1989)

“A young girl has been kidnapped by a blue demon and to make matters worse the whole city is under siege from his minions. Good job there is Bill, Max and Carol here to save the girl and send back the demon and his minions to hell. You and 2 other friends play as the heroes in this laser-gun shooter, 1st person perspective game where the game scrolls in all directions over five stages as you blast anything on screen with your gun.”

M. Buster

Of course I’m going to do this one today. Happy Friday the 13th!!!

Ghouls ‘N Ghosts (SEGA Master System) by Capcom (1989)

Monster Mash! (Apple II) by The Software Farm (1982)

“Monster Mash is a side view single screen platformer where your task is to capture all the monsters that are partying around the local graveyard. The screen has four rows of platforms containing four gravestones on three of the levels and part of the platforms can be turned 90°. The partying monsters appear from the top and left of the screen and move to the right of the screen along the platforms. Turning the platforms makes the monsters move downwards when they hit the turned parts and head to the bottom of the screen. Pressing the fire button makes the gravestones move up and down and when a monster hits a gravestone then they are captured. If the monster hits the other side of the screen then they have escaped and let too many escape, shown by a gauge, then it is game over. Once a certain amount of monsters have been captured then you move to the next level. Before you start the game you can select the level number from one to nine.”

What do you know, something else named “Monster Mash” that doesn’t actually feature the eponymous dance.

M. Buster

Maxwell Manor (Atari 8-bit) by Avalon Hill Game Company (1984)

“In this action game with top-down and side-view sections, you play Professor Arabesque who has been sent by the Psychical society to rid the controlling influence of the Skull of Doom. Arabesque must jump and shoot through the Manor, to collect the treasures and use them to solve the mystery. When you die you enter a limbo room, in which one exit (randomly-selected by the game) restores Arabesque; the others result in death.

Every time you play, the bonus items are randomly placed, and the exact map layout is adjusted. There are over 1000 variations and ten skill levels. Much like today’s FPS’ there are vases to reload the gun and grant lives. They are reset at the beginning of each game hour.”

M. Buster

Crypt of Medea (Apple II) by Sir-tech Software (1984)

“Based loosely on the famed Greek character, Crypt of Medea is one of the earliest horror-themed games released for the Apple II series. The plot is simple: you are trapped in an underground crypt filled with a variety of ghastly creatures and traps, and you must find your way out before you become just another nameless corpse–just like the ones you encounter all throughout the maze-like mausoleum.

Crypt of Medea is a Hi-Res adventure game with color graphics, using the simple two-word “verb noun” parser that was common in these types of games. In its heyday, it was panned for its graphic depictions of gratuitous violence, but seeing as such material has almost become a standard in today’s games, one could argue that Crypt of Medea was fairly ahead of its time.”

M. Buster

Ghostbusters by SEGA and Compile for the SEGA Genesis (1990)

“Set after the events of the first movie, Sega’s “Ghostbusters” follows the further adventures of Peter, Ray and Egon, as the make their way through six cases in an attempt to piece together a mysterious stone tablet.

Completely different than the Activision title of the same name, the Genesis “Ghostbusters” is a side-scrolling platformer that has the boys in gray running through houses, apartments, a burning house, and a high-rise for starters as they battle a myriad of ghosts with their proton blasters. When the Ghostbusters face off against a boss ghost, they have the ability to trap them the traditional way.

Peter, Ray, and Egon, each have different abilities and can purchase weapons and life upgrades from shops throughout the levels. Other familiar faces make an appearance, as Slimer offers power-ups, and the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man returns to settle the score from the movie.

Solve the mystery of the tablet, and the Ghostbusters have to face off against Jenna, the Goddess of Death and Destruction. Can the boys save New York one more time?”

M. Buster

Fright Night for the Amiga by MicroDeal (1988)

“Fright Night is based on the 1985 Columbia Pictures movie of the same name. You play vampire Jerry Dandridge in this arcade-style action game. You prowl the rooms of the mansion searching for victims. You have to dodge the Crucifixes thrown at you and sink your teeth into anything that looks tasty. Once you’ve drained the blood of all your victims, you can proceed to the next level. Keep an eye out for the unhealthy as they will drain your lifeforce; too much bad blood and you’re a dead vampire. You can run back to your coffin if you’re low on health to regenerate, as well, you must be back in your coffin before the sun comes up, or you’re a toasty vampire.”

M. Buster

Get the rest of the list here!

Written By

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation.

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