80s, 90s, Quick Lists, Toys, Video Games — May 14, 2012 8:30 am

7 Creepy Games of Our Childhood

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Before things like Resident Evil and Silent Hill were on the market, we had to use our imaginations a little more when playing scary games. When you only have a VHS tape or 32 bits to work with, it takes a little more out of the audience to play along. Of course, our own imaginations are the worst and can come up with elements 6,000 times more frightening than what’s actually going on onscreen. Here are a few of the games that scared the piss right out of me.

7 – The 7th Guest

Happy birthday little Billy!

When we bought our PC back in 1994, it was supposed to come with an encyclopedia CD-ROM. This is important because it was a selling point for having my mom allow us (my dad and I) to upgrade. When we got to the store, we saw PCs that came with The 7th Guest instead. Plans were hatched and lies were told and we came home with a sweet computer and matching sweet computer game.

The 7th Guest is a puzzle game with a horror background. You’re a guest at a mad doll maker’s mansion and must solve these puzzles and try not to die. It’s neat enough, but what really got me is when you were done playing for the day. As you exited the game it would cry, “Come baaaaaack!” I would make my friend turn it off as I hid in the other room covering my ears. It’s the littlest things that do you in.

6 – The 11th Hour

Wow. Puzzles. Scaaaaaary!

As the sequel to The 7th Guest, The 11th Hour takes a similar approach to its predecessor with a horror setting and puzzle-based game play. The game’s graphics run a lot smoother, but that only emphasizes the creep factor. Stauf, that evil doll maker, is back and wrecking havoc—but this time it involves the disappearance of the player’s girlfriend who was investigating the mansion. The worst part: you can’t win. The end of the game is a choose your own adventure of fail. You have three options—being killed and having your body thrown into the river, almost sexing Stauf and then getting eaten, and lastly, watching the mansion burn down with your girlfriend inside of it.

A third installment was planned for release in 2004, but the project is currently suspended in time. There have been no reports of it being cancelled or postponed, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

5 – 13 Dead End Drive

 Fun for the whole family, if your family likes murdering each other. So yeah, fun for the whole family.

This one wasn’t all that scary, but it was marketed as if it were. The point of this board game was to get an old lady’s inheritance by setting traps and surviving the longest out of 13 potential heirs. Players were encouraged to murder the other players, which is the creepiest and scariest part of this game. 13 Dead End Drive was revived in 2002 with 1313 Dead End Drive, just a few blocks away from the original game, I guess. This time around there’s 16 heirs to fight over the fortune. Like you didn’t already have enough trouble getting 13 people together to play it.

4 – Return of the Phantom

The Phantom is forced to eat expired lunchmeat as he’s hit by a chandelier.

I’m simultaneously a fan of and terrified of The Phantom of the Opera. The story is solid, the live performance is great, but Raoul is kind of douchy and the Phantom is a stalker rapist. In 1993 the now defunct MicroProse released a PC game following the basic Phantom story, but adding in weird time travel stuff. You play Raoul, but not the Raoul, but also not not the Raoul. At one point the Phantom is unmasked… and I likely wet myself at that point. I don’t know if his skull was just growing over his face or what, but at the age of 10, I was not prepared for it and went back to playing Solitare.

3 – The Lawnmower Man

 Part lawnmower, part man, part… Tron?

I guess the early 1990s were a bad time for me game-wise since I seemed to be afraid of anything that came out then. The box art for The Lawnmower Man was enough to send me over the edge—that polished golden updated Tron-looking guy completely put me off anything to do with the Lawnmower Man. It wasn’t until years later (read: earlier today) that I actually looked up the trailer and found that the movie looks more cheesy than scary. Basically, a doctor experiments on a mentally disabled man and, using drugs and Virtual Reality, turns him into a genius. A psycho, power-hungry genius, but still a genius. And according to the game, his lawnmower is possessed. I’ll stick with Sonic, thanks.

2 – Alien vs Predator

Pea soup is great for getting rid of aliens… and anyone else.

Of all the things Atari messed up, Alien vs Predator was somehow not one of them and is still heralded to this day as one the scariest games as well as one of the best on the Atari Jaguar. Players can choose to be an alien, a predator, or Private Lewis. Aliens come at you out of nowhere, especially from behind, making your chance of sleeping that night nil.

1 – Nightmare

Good luck sleeping tonight, maggots!

This was the first VHS board game many people of our generation encountered. The VHS component of Nightmare focused on the face of the Gatekeeper, who yelled at the players and progressively got more and more ugly and disfigured as the game went on. The Gatekeeper worked to make sure players didn’t escape from “The Other Side” and gave them tasks to complete as they made their way around the board game component of Nightmare. Before the game began, each player had to write down their greatest fear on a piece of paper. This proved to be challenging, especially when playing with other 12 year-olds who would endlessly make fun of my fear of bees.

Three more tapes were released in the Nightmare series hosted by a zombie, a witch, and a vampire. There were plans for a fourth expansion, but that never came to fruition. Instead it was replaced with Atmosfear: The Harbingers in 1995. Nightmare enthusiasts are out in full bloom on YouTube, however, including a French user named CapitaineGMC who uploads fan-made Nightmare expansion videos:

Just as freaky as the original.

What creeped you out the most? Leave us a comment with your scary game suggestions!

1 Comment

  • Oh God, Nightmare was awesome! My best friend convinced me that you could actually talk to the Gatekeeper, and he’d actually respond back to you. Needless to say, my brother and I were pretty disappointed when we first played it, but after that initial letdown, we played the game and really liked it. 
    We found that whenever people played it, including adults, they’d always end up getting really mad at each other for taking too long during their turn, especially when the clock was winding down.

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