[Beyond PlayStation] HAUNTED: Halloween 86 Review
Platformer/beat ‘em up HAUNTED: Halloween 86 is a retro-infused take on old-school gaming. Find out more in our HAUNTED: Halloween 86 review!
In HAUNTED: Halloween 86, you will take on one particular Halloween way back on October 31st, 1986, during which things got a little bit… too crazy. Donny and Tami, two 11-year old kids, were getting ready for some fun trick-or-treating when they decided to visit the old farmhouse. Unfortunately, crazy old farmer Harry traps them inside of his dungeon, and the two must now find a way to break out of there so that they can make a run for it and try to get home safe and sound before it’s too late.
Retrotrainment Games and Mega Cat Studios worked on HAUNTED: Halloween 86 so that it was developed up to the restrictions of the actual Nintendo Entertainment System hardware (what is also known as the NES), which is why it was also released as a physical NES cartridge. This means we’re getting 8-bit sprites, a chiptune soundtrack, and a set of seven levels with some action platforming/beat ‘em up action. You can switch between characters on the go, which is a nice feature for an NES game and will need to make the most of your move set to survive.
There are three difficulty options to choose from, that will change your overall experience. In Easy, you will start with four hit points as well as all power-ups ready for you. For Normal, you retain the four hit points but start with just the one power move. And if you go all-in and try to take on the game in the Hard difficulty setting, you will only have two hit points, but at least you will start with the one power move.
The game will start by presenting its tutorial section – which you can skip, but shouldn’t. Here you’ll learn all the basics, such as being able to hop down from surfaces by pressing down twice on the left analog stick or the D-Pad, or how pressing up plus the B button will allow you to unleash an uppercut attack. If there are any objects for you to pick up, you can do so by pressing down plus the B button, pressing the button once again to throw it. If you want to jump, you can do so with the A button and can jump once more while in the air by pressing the A button a second time. There are also extra power moves for you to add to your collection that I won’t spoil here.
While in the air, you can also press down and the B button for a downward dash attack. By now you probably figured out that the B button is for regular attacks, which you can combo by pressing the button a handful of times in quick succession. You can press down and forward plus the B button to make a fast slide attack and can press up twice to try and dodge enemy attacks. If you need to tag in your other character, you can do this by pressing the – button. Each character’s health will be represented by their skin color. As they are damaged, they will start to turn a bit pale, moving into green face territory when they’re almost dead. To recover your health, you can eat some candy to become healthier.
Unless you go with the Easy difficulty setting, you won’t have access to all power moves right from the start. The good news is that you’ll get to pick the one power move you will get to pick which power move you want to unlock once the kids find an old map on their way to the old farmhouse. As you progress through the game and defeat each of the different bosses you will face, you will be rewarded with a new map piece that will also allow you to unlock another power move. You will also get a password after beating a stage, which you should write down!
Along with the main Story Mode, there’s also an Onslaught Mode, which is an endless mode of sorts in which you will try and see how long you can survive in a single-screen arena-style arcade experience – starting you off at a literal arcade – as you take on wave after wave of enemies. You will fight against regular zombies, large zombies, flying heads, small rats, and more, as you try to survive for as long as possible Onslaught Mode will start with you having five lives, and will need to make every single one count so that you can destroy all enemies and progress to the next area.
HAUNTED: Halloween 86 is a fun 2D platformer/beat ‘em up that will take you an hour and change to complete. It definitely feels like a more refined NES game from back in the day, introducing some gameplay mechanics that would have certainly made it stand out if it was released decades ago. HAUNTED: Halloween 86 is out now on Nintendo Switch for $9.99, and if you’re a collector of physical games, you can also try to find a cartridge version for the Nintendo Entertainment System, which Mega Cat Studios published back in 2016. While this particular game is now sold out at their store, you can find other games for the NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, and more, at their website.
This HAUNTED: Halloween 86 review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by Mega Cat Studios.