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Update time:2021-06-16 15:15Tag:

¡¡¡¡Our first list of horror-themed arcade games certainly hit it off for many fans of old-school gaming. Of course, as with any list, there were several ¡°Where¡¯s ¡®X¡¯?¡± posts.

¡¡¡¡So, you knew what was going to happen.

¡¡¡¡Here are another ten games from ¡°the good ol¡¯ days¡± to which we¡¯d all gladly have given our weekly allowances.


¡¡¡¡In the town of Greely Valley, Iowa, you¡¯re taking a hayride tour through the Greely Valley cemetery with local ¡°ghost expert¡± Spooky Sam. You decide to leave the tour and instead approach the tombstone of dead ringmaster Ludwig von T?kkent?kker. Legend states that if a golden token is inserted into the jester skull¡¯s mouth on top of T?kkent?kker¡¯s gravestone, his carnival will rise from the earth. As luck would have it, you find a golden coin sitting in the slot of the tombstone. Upon inserting the coin into the jester¡¯s mouth, the haunted amusement park rises from the ground, trapping you inside. You¡¯ve now got to fight your way out alive.

¡¡¡¡One of the more requested titles from the comments last time, CarnEvil?isn¡¯t too dissimilar from House of The Dead, but you had a shotgun as your main weapon, which certainly involves a different play style point-and-shoot basics of most rail shooters. Plus, like HoTD, you have survivors that you have to contend with, though they generally keep low to avoid being shot. Sadly, there aren¡¯t any fun things like secret rooms or alternate pathways for you to take. Different ammo types allow you to spray enemies with acid or burn them with fire, but that¡¯s it.

¡¡¡¡CarnEvil veers greatly at times in its difficulty. It can be surprisingly on the easy side one moment, but in the next, you¡¯ll be burning through quarters due to the cheap hits from enemies that will somehow score parting shots before they die or react and hit you before you can do the same. Boss fights aren¡¯t as interesting as they are in House of The Dead and boil down to shooting at the boss like everything else, without much in the way of strategy or finding a weak point. That being said, how many games have a giant undead baby as a boss that vomits on you?

¡¡¡¡Probably the main draw of CarnEvil is its graphics, as there¡¯s just so much to look at on-screen at one time, be it a new enemy, a victim being killed, or just some random thing going on in the background. The game also moves along at a reasonable pace, so you¡¯re never in the same area for very long. The gore is also a draw, as you¡¯ll be blowing off chunks of enemies as you shoot them, which is always satisfying. And much like House of The Dead, CarnEvil has its own goofy voice-acting (though it feels somewhat less out of place than HoTD). While House of The Dead is most certainly the king of these lightgun games, CarnEvil has a certain charm that makes it a worthy second.


¡¡¡¡There lived one gravedigger in a tiny village in a remote region. Living a quiet, solitary life in the corner of the cemetery, he kept the village people away due to his ugly appearance. One day, he found the graves were ransacked, and some of the corpses were stolen. The gravedigger didn¡¯t want the village people to find out, so he decided to deal with the grave burglars.

¡¡¡¡Putting it nicely, the game plays very similar to Snow Bros.?Nightmare in The Dark employs a similar mechanic where you hit enemies with projectiles (in this case, fire from your lantern) until they turn into a ball, which can then be pushed and rolled over enemies. This is also how you gain loot and power-ups (again, not unlike Snow Bros). Every five levels, the player fights a boss that requires you to use the ball mechanic to destroy it.

¡¡¡¡Unfortunately, if the derivativeness doesn¡¯t get you, then the cheap AI that¡¯s faster than you will do that on its own. There are speed power-ups that allow you to move faster, but you¡¯re still going to get hit by some baddies as you¡¯re trying to light them on fire. You only get three lives, and health power-ups are hard to come by. Nightmare in The Dark makes up for all of this in the graphics. The game¡¯s sprites are gorgeous and well animated, and the stage introductions are fun with bats flying in or words bleeding off the screen. The backgrounds also have some nice animated touches, as well. While the game won¡¯t win for originality, Nightmare in The Dark¡®s presentation makes up for it.


¡¡¡¡Based on the Dark Horse Comics crossover series, the city of San Drad, California has been overrun by the Xenomorphs. Battling against the invasion, the cybernetically-enhanced Major Dutch Schaefer and Lieutenant Linn Kurosawa of the United States Colonial Marine Corps have been abandoned by their superiors. A swarm of the Xenomorph drones corners them. Before they can be killed, a pair of the Predator warriors appear and destroy the swarm. The warriors offer an alliance with the two marines to stop the infestation.

¡¡¡¡Along with The Punisher and Cadillacs & Dinosaurs, this is one of Capcom¡¯s ¡°lost beat-em-ups¡± that never received a home release (unless you count that ridiculously-priced Home Arcade unit). And despite being based on the Dark Horse Comics series, certain liberties have been taken with the game, such as chestburster hosts being turned into zombies, but that¡¯s minor when you look at the sheer quality of this game.

¡¡¡¡For starters, in keeping with Capcom¡¯s quality at the time, the graphics are phenomenal. The main character¡¯s sprites and enemies are colorful, well animated, and have lots of personality. Backgrounds are similar in their detail and set the mood for each level appropriately. Up to three players can join at once, with each character having their own stats and playstyle. Much like Final Fight, you have access to melee weapons and guns (including the smartgun). In fact, the Predator characters start with staffs that give variety to your play, as you¡¯ll have to pick them up if you get knocked down. You also have a dedicated button to fire a projectile that you can use at any time; however it leaves you open when you fire, or if you overuse the attack, your weapon either overheats or requires reloading. This is key when you have to do crowd control with enemies on either side.

¡¡¡¡The game also scores big in the music department. Composed by Hideki Okugawa, AvP features a wide variety of music, from eerie ambient tracks and tension-inducing synth to a few heroic-sounding tracks that keep you motivated to squash some bugs. Likewise, the sound effects are also punchy, having those satisfying hits from punches or slices. Alien vs. Predator features seven stages in total. With the majority being sidescrollers, Capcom did throw in some variety, such as a stage taking place on top of a moving APC or a descending elevator with Xenomorphs dropped down on top of you. The difficulty increases appropriately in the later stages, though it can get pretty overwhelming if you¡¯re playing solo.

¡¡¡¡While the SNES and Genesis received ¡°ports,¡± they were totally different games and never came close to the amazing fun you¡¯ll have from playing this one. Alien vs. Predator is sadly one that¡¯s been forgotten (most likely in part due to licensing), so if you see one in your bowling alley, definitely toss a quarter in it.


¡¡¡¡In 1999, strange things were happening in an unnamed town in the middle of the United States. The government is offering a $50,000 bounty to whoever could help solve the mystery. Three militiamen ¨C Johnny Justice, Paul Patriot, and Sammy Stately ¨C take up the government¡¯s offer. Upon setting foot in the town, the trio immediately realizes that the place is swarming with zombies and other creatures. These aren¡¯t your typical undead, though. They are intelligent, able to operate weapons and vehicles. The militiamen must shoot their way out of the city and find the cause of the invasion.

¡¡¡¡Ever wondered what Japanese game developers thought of Western zombie films? You don¡¯t have to look very far with Beast Busters. Viewed as a sort of parody of Western action/horror films (hence your three protagonists), the title was released a year before SNK really got things started with their Neo Geo system. As a result, the game isn¡¯t up to the quality that the developer would come to be known by. Still, much like Nightmare City, the game boasts plenty of gore and stylized graphics. Plus, the idea of having three players shooting it up simultaneously was pretty unique, as were the levels with multiple scrolling directions.

¡¡¡¡You¡¯ll definitely need the help, mind you, as Beast Busters is exceedingly difficult. The game is downright impossible to complete solo (unless you have a month¡¯s worth of your allowance). Unlike most rail shooters, your machine gun ammo isn¡¯t unlimited, though there are plenty of ammo packs lying around. On the other hand, your special attacks are quite rare to pick up, meaning you¡¯ll have to save them for the bosses and their multiple forms. With all that being said, Beast Busters is another case of an early rail shooter that didn¡¯t quite hit the mark, and unless you have a couple of friends to join you, it isn¡¯t going to be one to seek out.


¡¡¡¡Two alien exterminators named Ricky and Mary (who bear resemblances to Michael Biehn and Sigourney Weaver) are sent on a mission to rescue the inhabitants of space colonies that have become infested by strange creatures. Their objective is to rescue the 16 hostages in each of the spaceships that form the colony before time runs out and then exit to fight one of the alien bosses.

¡¡¡¡It¡¯s quite obvious what Sega was doing here. Take Aliens, make your two playable characters ¡°not Ripley¡± and ¡°not Hicks,¡± and have them blow away aliens while rescuing colonists before the colony blows up. That being said, the levels themselves aren¡¯t too complex, and you do have access to a map that allows you to see where the hostages are, so you¡¯re not hunting blindly. As for weapons, you have access to lasers and flamethrowers, as well as a power-up that allows you to shoot behind you. That¡¯s probably a good thing, as enemies will constantly spawn in.

¡¡¡¡For whatever reason, Sega decided to be ruthless when it came to difficulty. It¡¯s a ¡°one hit, and you¡¯re dead¡± affair, and while the levels themselves aren¡¯t too difficult, the bosses can be quite tough to beat. Not only that, but if you do die, you revert to your default weapon, which makes boss battles even tougher. Throw in the fact that after you lose all your lives, you¡¯re back at the start of the game, and this is the definition of a quarter muncher. Of course, you could also say that the increased difficulty ups the terror aspect, which in some respects, it certainly does.

¡¡¡¡The difficulty shouldn¡¯t turn you away from this one, however. Aside from blowing away waves of aliens, the boss designs are delightfully grotesque and inventive. If you¡¯re a fan of body horror, the bosses in Alien Syndrome will fit the bill in their horrific absurdity. If you need a break from Gauntlet (and have a friend to help you), Alien Syndrome is certainly up to the task.


¡¡¡¡Also known as Devil World, an archaeologist named Dr. Condor discovers the coffin of a demon in ancient ruins. During a press conference announcing his discovery, he decides to open the coffin for the first time, only to be transported into another world alongside a reporter named Labryna and another archeologist named Zorlock. The three heroes must now fight their way out of the dimension to defeat the evil Demon King, who is keeping them trapped and returning to the human world.

¡¡¡¡If at first glance, this looks like a rip-off of Gauntlet, you¡¯d be mostly correct. You walk around, mow down waves of enemies trying to kill you, and collect power-ups. As a twist, you do fight bosses, so it¡¯s not a direct rip-off. You also have the ability to jump (poorly), which makes for frustrating platforming in the later levels. Depending on who you select, you start with a sword, whip, or spear, but you¡¯ll be able to upgrade them to allow for longer ranged attacks. You¡¯re also able to use dynamite as a secondary attack.

¡¡¡¡Interestingly, the later Japanese version of the game, Devil World, was more focused on ranged attacks instead of melee. You start with a gun or crossbow and upgrade to more powerful weapons, including machine guns, flamethrowers, laser cannons, and bazookas. It was also made easier, thanks to your life being drained slower than in the North American version, as well as having the ability to throw dynamite and use your main weapon simultaneously. Devil World/Dark Adventure is a unique obscurity in Konami¡¯s library, but you¡¯re better off sticking to Gauntlet with the gameplay¡¯s frustrating controls and derivative nature.


¡¡¡¡Players assume the role of two ghost hunters to fight against several ghosts and monsters that were unleashed upon Earth by the Demon King (no relation to Dark Adventure).

¡¡¡¡A sidescroller in the vein of Ghost ¡®N Goblins, Demon¡¯s World has you romping through varying levels armed with your ¡°not a Proton Pack¡± that shoots missiles. You¡¯ll also be able to grab power-up icons that change your weapon to bombs, three-way shots, lasers, and a ¡°V,¡± which gives something resembling a proton beam from Ghostbusters. The game¡¯s tone varies much like its levels. One minute you¡¯ll be fighting ghosts, skeletons, and Frankenstein¡¯s Monster in more modern settings. Next, you¡¯ll be fighting samurai skeletons or dragons in Japanese or Chinese-themed levels.

¡¡¡¡Apart from that, there¡¯s not much more to Demon¡¯s World. You simply move forwards (it¡¯s an auto-scroller, so you¡¯ll be moving forward regardless), shoot monsters, and do little else. There are no advanced mechanics for dodging enemies or projectiles. It¡¯s just a stroll for one or two players through a bizarre collection of locales, blowing away monsters and demons. In fact, the PC Engine (aka the Japanese TurboGrafx-16) port of the game mixed up the levels, anyway. If the Splatterhouse machine is occupied, you could do worse than check out Demon¡¯s World for a bit.


¡¡¡¡Lil¡¯ Red, a 10-year-old boy, discovers two haunted houses and a graveyard in his neighborhood. An old man tells you that to vanquish the monsters, you must first light a candle that will, in turn, make a sword available to power you up and allow you to kill them.

¡¡¡¡One of Sega¡¯s early arcade titles, Monster Bash?consists of you running through two haunted manors, facing off against Dracula and Frankenstein¡¯s Monster. At the same time, the third section has you fighting against Chameleon Man in a garden using an overhead view. Each section has some gimmick to help or hinder your movement. For example, Dracula¡¯s stage has paintings that warp you around the screen, while The Monster¡¯s level has pits that drop you to a lower level. Upon completing all three screens, the game loops, and the difficulty increases.

¡¡¡¡Lil¡¯ Red has a ¡°zap¡± power to attack, which lets him shoot little lightning bolts. These attacks only work against lesser enemies, while the sole boss monster in each screen is only slowed down by it. You¡¯ll need to light at least one of the candles on the stage to give you access to the sword, which will grant a ¡°Superzap¡± that can kill the main boss.

¡¡¡¡As you might expect, there¡¯s not a heck of a lot to this game (given it¡¯s an early entry in Sega¡¯s library), nor is it all that good. The minor enemies are irritating at best, and the first few loops are fairly straightforward. The third loop is probably when things get most irritating, as the boss monsters¡¯ speed increases to the point of frustration since Lil¡¯ Red isn¡¯t the most agile of 10-year-olds. The graphics are pretty fun, particularly the animation of the monsters melting after being hit with the Superzap. And the sounds of the werewolves in The Monster¡¯s stage are goofy woofs. Apart from that, it¡¯s nothing to seek out unless you¡¯re a hardcore Sega fan.


¡¡¡¡Players are ¡°crypt raiders¡± guided by Galazon, the spirit of travels. Galazon tasks the player with traveling through variously themed caves, temples, and crypts, searching for the ¡°Eyes of Guidance¡± that would open the doors of fate.

¡¡¡¡Much like its story, Crypt Killer¡®s gameplay is unremarkable. Sure, you had plenty of enemies to shoot and (in the arcade) a cool sawed-off shotgun to go with the cabinet, but there wasn¡¯t much to distinguish it from other lightgun games at the time. Compared to what was offered at the time and what Sega would unleash the year after Crypt Killer¡®s release, the game felt downright dull as you trudged through its six different scenarios, mowing down skeletons, zombies, rats, and other monsters. Unlike other lightgun games at the time, you also didn¡¯t have bystanders or bad power-ups that penalized you if you shot them, eliminating any semblance of challenge. Adding insult was the low-res sprites that Konami used for the enemies, which just looked ugly (and even uglier on the home releases).

¡¡¡¡As alluded to earlier, Crypt Killer was eventually ported to the PlayStation and the Sega Saturn, but the downgrades in hardware made the graphics look even more egregious. Plus, when you had fare like Area 51 fresh from the arcades simultaneously, there wasn¡¯t much point in plunking down money for this. This was especially true when you realized that there were better lightgun games still in the arcades.


¡¡¡¡In 1918 England, a small village experiences a series of kidnappings and grave-robbings. In addition, heavily-armed zombies have begun to appear. Armed with his shotgun, private detective Edward Windsor begins to investigate. Following a shootout in the village cemetery, Edward rescues a man named Charles, an errant monster hunter. The two join forces to infiltrate a nearby castle where the zombies have originated.

¡¡¡¡Yet another lightgun game, Zombie Raid?came at that fun time where pixelated gore was the quarter-muncher. Seriously, every single zombie you hit explodes with organs and blood splattering everywhere, with exposed ribcages and brain matter. It also helped that the sprite work was drawn quite well. And of course, since it was a lightgun game, the gun in question was a sawed-off pump shotgun. If you were quick, you could fire then cock the gun for an almost steady stream of shots with no pausing to reload.

¡¡¡¡The stages themselves are fairly long and take you through your typical cemetery, followed by a stormy road, underground cave, castle, and more. The stages are quite long (almost too long) and provide various fodder for you to shoot. Apart from the zombies (both armed and unarmed), you also face off against mummies, Frankenstein¡¯s Monster, werewolves, and gargoyles, culminating in a boss at the end of each stage. Aside from the zombies, you can also shoot and destroy background objects that add to your score and often drop power-ups. Zombie Raid isn¡¯t as straightforward as you might think, however. There are three crystals which you¡¯ll have to obtain in order to face the final boss. Fail to do so, and you¡¯ll get a bad ending.

¡¡¡¡As you might guess, the crystal hunting aspect is the most annoying part of the game, apart from it being ridiculously hard. Bosses take a ton of punishment and deal out just as much in return, requiring you to toss more quarters into the machine. Despite that, Zombie Raid can be fun with a friend, though it pales compared to what came after it in House of The Dead.