Thirty years after its debut, people still make games for the 8-bit NES console. One of those games is Haunted Halloween '85, which PAX East attendees could buy on actual NES cartridges. Haunted Halloween '85 is also coming soon to Steam. Read on for impressions and our video with interview and gameplay!
A bad day at school
Haunted Halloween '85 takes place during 1985. In that very year, Back to the Future and Pee Wee's Big Adventure hit theaters and the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) changed the world of video games forever. It was a pretty cool time to be alive, other than the internet not yet existing as we know it.
A young lad named Donny lives in the peaceful town of Possum Hollow. He stays up all night playing on his fancy new NES, but still manages to stumble into school the next day. Once there, he discovers the halls have been overrun with zombies! Now Donny must fight through armies of undead monsters as he tries to rescue his friends and find out what happened to their town.
Haunted Halloween consists of six stages of platforming action, each with a big end boss to defeat. Donny's only weapons are his fists, so he'll do lots of punching enemies at close range and jumping to dodge them. Along the way he can collect candy to keep his health up. Between levels, story sequences will clue players in to the source of Donny's troubles.
Retro entertainment for old and new platforms
The release of NES games like Haunted Halloween '85 is quite similar to the way music albums still come out on vinyl. Collecting physical NES cartridges has a nostalgic appeal, while the newness and limited edition nature of modern NES releases makes them feel special. Of course, such a niche product doesn't come cheap – Haunted Halloween '85 costs $50 by itself or $60 with box and manual.
Luckily for classic gaming fans without working NES systems, Haunted Halloween '85 will be coming to Steam within the next few months. The game was originally developed in Assembly code for the NES, so porting is no simple job for the small team at Retrotainment Games. The game has to be recreated in Unity, at which point it can be released on Steam and (hopefully) consoles.
Recreating the exact experience of the NES version is a priority for the developers, but the PC version might still benefit from minor bonuses like Steam Achievements. The Steam version will be significantly cheaper than its physical equivalent. Although they haven't settled on a price yet, the devs tell us it should cost $10 or less at launch.
More Haunted Halloween to come
Haunted Halloween '85 is a brand new NES game, and also a proof of concept for the five-man Pittsburgh-based development team. Having successfully launched their first game, they are already at work on a sequel called Haunted Halloween '86: The Curse of Possum Hollow. The sequel promises a greatly expanded scope, with a second playable character named Tami, more complex game mechanics, and lots of new levels, enemies, and chiptune music.
Retrotainment launched a Kickstarter campaign for Haunted Halloween '86 during PAX East, and the project has already met its modest funding goal. The sequel will come to Steam as well, so classic gaming fans can look forward to playing another modern-day NES game on their PCs or Windows tablets.
We'll be sure to follow up when Haunted Halloween '85 and '86 arrive on Steam! In the meantime, does anybody out there still have a genuine NES or third-party NES console?