While not my favorite genre, there are a fair number of horror/haunted-themed video games that I like. And since it's October, I thought now would be a good time to make a blog sharing my top 10 horror games. Some of these aren't really "horror" games, but still have a sense of the season by having haunted levels or enemies such as ghosts or bats.
Top 10 Horror/Haunted Games
Monster Party deserves a spot on this list just for the fact that it is weird. It is so weird, that it is awesome.
As soon as the title screen appears, the game introduces you to the boss characters...some of which are food items, like a giant Shrimp and an Onion Ring. Things are a little weird already, but it gets weirder as soon as you start the game.
You play as a kid named Mark, who is walking home from a Baseball game. A Gargoyle named Bert appears suddenly and tells Mark that his world is in trouble, and he needs his help. Why he would ask an ordinary kid with a Baseball Bat is a mystery, but the weirdness is what makes this game worth playing.
Right before a level starts, this screen is shown. Despite the fact that Nintendo usually didn't allow companies to include blood and violence in their games at the time, apparently this screen showing skeletons in a pool of blood was okay.
Once the first level starts, you realize that the game itself is a generic platformer. Nothing bad or overly weird, just generic and a little boring. Or so it seems.
Each level in the game has doors. Enter the doors, and you're in a room. Creepy music starts playing. Some of the rooms are empty, and some of them have bosses.
In one of the rooms is a giant plant. So...does this remind you of anything? It's supposed to be a reference to Little Shop of Horrors. In a prototype version, this is more obvious due to the presence of a Microphone and a Speaker. The plant shoots (what appear to be) bubbles. You can either run up to it and whack it with Mark's Bat, or you can "play ball" and swing Mark's Bat to send the bubbles back at the plant.
On the right side of the room, there is an invisible object that Mark can stand on. This is the Speaker from the prototype version; it's still there, just not visible.
In another room, one of the bosses says he's/it's "dead" (yet he/it can still talk, apparently), and you win the battle without even doing anything.
About halfway through the level, you come across this tree.
Walk past the tree and the seemingly happy, mostly peaceful level turns into a bloody nightmare. The tree's face changes, other faces appear, and the happy face platforms turn into skulls. The music even changes when this happens. I'm not sure if Nintendo's censors didn't get past the title screen, or if they allowed this because they wanted the game to appeal to older players.
The last boss of the first level is a Pumpkin Ghost that says "Please don't pick on me." Beat this boss to get a key and move on to the next level.
Anyway, you get the idea. The game itself isn't great by any means but is still worth playing because of how weird it is. If you haven't already, I recommend reading about the prototype version as it has even more parodies and references to classic horror films. Even though the game was made in Japan and the prototype version is for the Famicom, the game wasn't released in Japan. It was only released in the U.S. and Canada.
Remember this early 3D platformer for the PS1?
In the late '90s, I remember playing a demo of this game. I also sort of remember seeing the commercial for this game. I later bought the game on eBay in 2018.
The levels have a haunted theme, such as forests and museums. There is a bonus level where you slide and collect Pumpkins (I remember this in the demo I played in 1998/1999).
The controls, while not bad, are a little awkward. You press Circle to duck, and press Triangle to glide. Actually, the controls are similar to Crash Bandicoot. Also, you can move the camera around with either L2 or R2 like in the Spyro the Dragon games. The controls are alright for an early PS1 game, though, and the game supports the analog controls of the PS1's Dual Shock Controller.
Some of the music tracks, such as the music that plays in the Museum level, have a creepy vibe to them. The music that plays when Jersey Devil loses all of his energy freaked me out a little when I was a kid. Like several other PS1 games, you can put the game into a CD Player or Computer and listen to the game's soundtrack (or you can go to the PS1's menu and load up its music player).
8.Wendy: Every Witch Way
A late release for the Game Boy Color. If you don't know who Wendy is, she's one of Casper's friends.
I've known about this game since the early 2000's, because it was featured in Nintendo Power (Volume 151, Dec. 2001). I bought a sealed copy for about $50 on eBay in 2014 (I also got a sealed copy of Mega Man Xtreme for around the same price and from the same seller in 2012). Unfortunately, even used copies of the game are over $100 now.
The game is similar to Metal Storm for NES, because of Wendy's ability to change gravity. Wendy, being a Witch, has a wand that can be used to shoot at enemies. By collecting stars, her shots become stronger.
There is an "Advance World" with three extra levels that can be played on a Game Boy Advance, but not a Game Boy Color. This was likely a marketing decision, as the game doesn't appear to make use of the Game Boy Advance's capabilities (unlike Shantae, which came out even later than this game). Since the GameCube's Game Boy Player is basically a Game Boy Advance, the Advance World levels can also be played on the Game Boy Player. Check out the video above; I got through the Advance World without getting hit even once.
7.Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti (Famicom)
There are many Splatterhouse games. This one, however, came out in Japan-only for the Famicom. It remained exclusive to Japan until it was released for Switch in Namco Museum Archives (released in Japan as "Namcot Collection").
Unlike other Splatterhouse games, the characters in this game have kind of a cute look to them. I guess they wanted this game to be more kid-friendly than the other games in the series.
Like Monster Party, this game both parodies and pays homage to classic Horror movies. Some of these include Bram Stoker's Dracula, John Carpenter's Halloween, and Friday the 13th.
I played through and beat the game last year, during the Halloween Bingo contest here on Video Game Sage.
If you can't import a copy for the Famicom, I recommend importing a physical copy of Namcot Collection for Switch (the Switch is not region-locked, so it works on any Switch). Otherwise, download Namco Museum Archives Vol. 1 (the American release of Namcot Collection, and split into two volumes for some reason).
6.Pac-Man World 2 (PS2/GameCube)
While Pac-Man World 2 is not really a "horror" game, anyone who's played even one Pac-Man game knows that Pac-Man games have ghosts. Furthermore, Pac-Man World 2 has three haunted levels. If you think this game is only for kids, think again. The haunted levels are extremely hard.
In the Haunted Boardwalk level, Pac-Man wears Rollerblades and must skate on and jump his way to a ton of bridges. This isn't easy. Not only is the level dark, but many of the bridges are unstable and sink into the water as soon as Pac-Man jumps on them. If Pac-Man falls into the water, you have to restart from the last checkpoint (or the beginning of the level, if you didn't reach any checkpoints). Later in the level, there are areas where the path splits. The fog makes it difficult to see what's ahead of you, so you might miss a bridge and accidentally jump into the water.
The second haunted level has a maze near the beginning of the level. There are spider enemies in this maze. While you're running through the maze, the camera moves overhead just above Pac-Man. Because of the camera view, you might bump into the spiders and lose energy. While the maze isn't that difficult to get through, it might be a little confusing unless you've played the game a lot. Because of the overhead view, if you haven't played the game before or haven't played it in several years, you might exit the maze where it starts and then have to go through it again. Getting to the other side isn't overly challenging, though.
Ghost Bayou is the last level in the game, so it's not surprising that it is also the hardest. The level is covered in fog, and features a maze of narrow paths. Like in Haunted Boardwalk, if Pac-Man touches the water, you have to restart from the last checkpoint. The biggest challenge is not falling into the water, because the path aren't very wide. Sometimes the paths split. Some of them lead to dead ends.
You think that's dark enough?! Geeze...the level's already covered in fog, why does it need to be extremely dark? Oh right, because it's the final level in the game.
There is a section later on with a bunch of skeleton enemies. You have to beat a certain number of them within a time limit, and the game gives you just barely enough time. If the timer runs out, it's back to the last checkpoint you reached. If you see a checkpoint, don't ignore it. You have to actually touch it for the game to save your progress up to that point, or it'll send you back to wherever the checkpoint you last touched was.
Anyway, Pac-Man World 2 has been one of my favorite games on the GameCube since I first played it in 2003. I also recently imported a Japanese copy for PS2.
5.Luigi's Mansion Arcade
I thought I'd include this, because I played it recently and had a lot of fun.
It has a motion controlled Poltergust Vacuum for a Controller, like what Luigi uses in the game. It is very similar Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon for 3DS, with many of the same locations and additions as that game (such as the Strobulb). Unlike the other Luigi's Mansion games, you see the action from Luigi's perspective. Since this is an Arcade game, it's mainly about scores.
You use the Poltergust not only to catch ghosts, but also to find coins and keys hidden in the Mansion. As in Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, the Poltergust has a function called the Strobulb. There is a button on the Controller that you can hold for a few seconds to charge up the Strobulb, and then release to stun ghosts so you can catch them with your Poltergust Vacuum.
There are multiple paths to take. Sometimes the game will ask you where you want to go, such as staying on the 1st Floor or go up the stairs to the 2nd Floor.
I played the game alone and didn't get very far. Apparently, the game includes some boss characters from the other Luigi's Mansion games. The game allows up to two players to play, so it is probably even more fun with a second player. If you haven't played the game yet, I recommend looking for it at any nearby Arcades or restaurants (or do a little travelling). I found the game at Chuck E. Cheese.
4.Luigi's Mansion (GameCube)
Much like how I can watch classic movies over and over again, Luigi's Mansion is a classic game that I can play over and over again. Even though I've played it since 2003 (though I first played it at a GameCube Kiosk in 2001), I can come back to it once a year and still have fun playing it.
Honestly, there's not much I can say about this game that hasn't been said many times already by others. It was followed by Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon for 3DS and Luigi's Mansion 3 for Switch, so that should tell you right there that the game is worth playing if you haven't yet (or if it's been years since you last played it). There is also a Luigi's Mansion Arcade game mentioned above), which I played at Chuck E. Cheese last month.
Also, I recommend watching my video above. The game is loaded with unused content leftover from beta versions of the game.
3.Super Mario 64
Okay, Super Mario 64 is obviously not a horror game. But I've noticed a lot of people have pointed out in recent years that the game has kind of a creepy vibe to it. Princess Peach's Castle, the paintings, and even the level backgrounds are a little creepy and disturbing to some people.
In the water area of the Hazy-Maze Cave level, there's a Sea Dragon. There's actually a sign in this area warning the player, but it turns out the Dragon is harmless. The darkness and slightly creepy music do make this area a little unsettling for a Mario game, though.
I can understand why people would find the painting for Lethal Lava Land a little creepy. There's also the fact that it's located in the Castle's basement.
Of course, the game does have a haunted level as well: Big Boo's Haunt.
Who can forget the Mad Piano inside the mansion?
The ghosts known as Boo's have made appearances in the series since Super Mario Bros. 3. Not surprisingly, they appear just about everywhere in the mansion. There's also the underground section of level with a Merry Go Round where you fight small Boos, and then a Big Boo.
There's also a hidden room with a giant eyeball that can only be accessed with the Vanish Cap.
2.Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered (Switch)
Originally released for PS3, Xbox 360, and PC in 2009, Ghostbuster's: The Video Game was released on PS4, Switch, and Xbox One in 2019 with some minor improvements. Good thing too, because I missed out on it when it originally came out in 2009. Another version was also released for Wii and PS2, known as the "stylized version" (stylized visuals instead of realistic visuals like the other versions). The Switch version, not surprisingly, is a port of the more advanced version for PS3, Xbox 360, and PC, known as the "realistic" version.
From what I've seen in a comparison video showing the Switch and PS3 versions, the Switch version appears to have higher resolution textures, has some added lighting effects when using the Proton Pack, and runs at a smoother framerate (the PS3 version looked like it ran a little choppy). And since the Switch is both a console and a handheld, the Switch version can also be played on the go. The online multiplayer mode from the older versions released in 2009, however, was removed. A little unfortunate, but I'm pretty sure the main single-player Career mode is what most people really care about anyway.
This game was one of the games on my list in the backlog challenge topic here on VGS. And yes, I did in fact beat the game...and was impressed.
All four Ghostbusters are featured, but you don't play as them. Instead you play as "Rookie", a newly hired Ghostbuster. He's never referred to by name.
The game features most of the original cast, including Bill Murray and Harold Ramis (rest in peace). The story was written by Dan Akroyd and takes place two years after Ghostbusters 2. Ernie Hudson also reprises his role as Winston. The game also includes some ideas that were originally meant for the canceled Ghostbusters 3 movie (the original Ghostbusters 3, not Afterlife).
The Firehouse displays lots of things from the first two Ghostbusters movies. There is even a monitor that displays the end screen from the Ghostbusters game for the NES (see video above). Also, while you can go down the stairs if you want to, you can use the pole to go down just like the Ghostbusters do in the movies.
Oh, and look who's back:
"It's the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man."
Easily one of the best horror/haunted games I've ever played.
1.Resident Evil 4 (GameCube)
Of course, I had to include a Resident Evil game on this list. Any of the Resident Evil games for GameCube could be number one, since they're all great. But, I think I'll give the edge to Resident Evil 4. I've played Resident Evil 4 since 2005 and have played it more than any other Resident Evil game.
Some of the game's most memorable moments include Leon jumping out of the window on the second floor in the cabin at the beginning of the game, seeing the Chainsaw guy coming after you in the Village, constantly pressing the A button to run away from giant boulders, meeting Luis Sera, meeting the Merchant ("Over here, Stranger!"), being knocked off and having to swim back to the boat during the battle with the lake monster, battling the giant El Gante boss and being helped by the dog you (hopefully) saved near the beginning of the game ("Hey! It's that Dog!"), and running into a cabin and teaming up with Luis to fight a swarm of villagers ("OK, it's game time!"). After completing Chapter 4, loading up Disc 2 brings you to the game's final chapter, which also has its share of memorable moments.
While the game is liked by many and is considered one of the best games in the series, many have said that it is not as scary as other games in the series and some say it isn't scary at all. In previous Resident Evil games, Ammo is limited, and you need Ink Ribbons to use Typewriters and save your progress. In Resident Evil 4, Ammo is common, and you no longer need Ink Ribbons to save your progress. While I can agree that this game is not as scary as some of the other Resident Evil games, it has its moments. The American release is completely uncensored, just like the American release of the GameCube version of Resident Evil 3. If you hook up your GameCube to a Sound Bar and Subwoofer or go all out and hook it up to a Home Theater System to hear the game in surround sound, be prepared for some jump scares. In the area with the lake monster, for example, if you keep shooting at the water, the lake monster will suddenly jump out and EAT Leon! Imagine hearing that with five speakers and a subwoofer.
The game has been released on just about every console (after GameCube) that you can imagine, in HD, on PC, and there has also been a Virtual Reality version. Of course, most of these versions have some added features not in the original GameCube version such as the Separate Ways campaign. Even so, I've been pretty content with the GameCube version all these years. It was easily one of the best-looking games in the sixth-generation console era, and the visuals still hold up reasonably well. The game was clearly designed with the GameCube's Controller in mind, with the big A button used for performing most actions. And even without Separate Ways, the GameCube version still contains a lot of extra content such as Assignment Ada mode, Mercenaries mode, alternate costumes for the main single player mode, the Professional difficulty setting, the Chicago Typewriter weapon that is unlocked after getting a five star rating on all levels in the Mercenaries mode, an alternate title screen showing the village from the main game that you can scroll left or right by using the C-Stick, and two trailer videos that are shown if you wait a few seconds on the title screen. There is also a room in the game's Castle where you can play a Shooting Gallery game and win collectible bottle caps of the game's characters.
I have several Resident Evil 4 videos on my YouTube Channel, such as a video showing an early demo of the game in the Resident Evil 4 Preview Disc and a video showing a Bonus Disc released in Europe.
Well, that's it for this blog. As usual, I'll make updates to fix typos and add pictures. Also, I might make another Halloween blog this month. We'll see.
Game screenshots captured from original consoles, not Emulators (except for Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti). That includes the GameCube; the screenshots were captured from a real GameCube, not a Wii or an Emulator. Resident Evil 4 screens are from one of my YouTube videos, but the game was played using a real GameCube.
Edited by MegaMan52
Fixed typos and added pictures