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Haunted House - The Atari Times

Haunted House

Look out it's a ghost!
by Brendan Onfrichuk

June 13, 2006
Most people would say that Alone in the Dark was the world's first survival horror. I think that I would disagree because Haunted House came out way before that game. This was one of the first games in my 2600 collection and is still one of my favourites today. The idea of being scared by something that is only 4K in size may seem silly but it is far from the truth. So while you may think Resident Evil is the scariest game ever you better think again.


You live in the town of Spirit Bay where old man Graves once lived. In his house is a magic urn that has been shattered into pieces. After Graves' death his house was boarded up and nobody has mustered up the courage to enter until you. The house is said to be haunted by the dead old man himself.

The object of the game is to collect all of the pieces of the urn and to get out of the mansion the way you came in. You will need to pick up keys to unlock certain parts of the house. You can also find a scepter that will make you invincible but you can only hold one item at a time. As you pick up pieces of the urn it will assemble making it only one item.

Creatures include bats, spiders and the old man's ghost. If you get touched by a creature you will be scared to death and you only have 9 lives to complete the game. To see around a room you need to light a match. You have unlimited matches but the idea of the game is to see how few you can use. When a creature is in the same room as you your match will blow out but the creature will still be visible. You cannot pick up items without seeing them. Sometimes your match will blow out because of a sudden gust of wind. While this adds to the horror effect well it does ruin the gameplay a little because it makes the amount of matches you use before the end of the game chance and skill and doesn't seem fair.

Sometimes you will find trouble getting around the house and wont be able to find the staircase that leads to the floor you need to get to. And since you can only hold one item at a time it make the game a lot more difficult and makes using the scepter harder. All in all the Gameplay is scary and lots of fun. The few problems that are here do not seem to be a problem, all Survival Horror games seem to have unavoidable problems.


Everything in the game is easy to recognize. Spiders, bats and the ghost do not need any reference to the manual to know what they are unlike some other adventure games (Raiders of the Lost Ark...cough cough). You can even tell if a staircase leads upstairs or down. But the rooms are empty except for the items that may be in them. I think that they may have been able to put a table or a chair in the rooms but it isn't a big deal. The match effect is well done and the eyes being the only visible part of the player adds humour to the game. The empty rooms are my only problem with the graphics.


The sound effects include lightning, wind and picking up items. The lightning and wind are easy to recognize and the item noise is a pleasant beep. The only music in the game is when you win but I am glad that there is no background music because it adds to the suspense of the game. The music at the end is creepy in itself and will do little to help you after the game's fright fest has scared you.


Haunted House has got to be the first survival horror game. This game has even scared me before. The first time I had heard the lightning I actually dropped my controller (I kid you not). If you are in the mood for a good scare be sure to pick up a copy of Haunted House.

Haunted House

(c) Atari

Don't go into the mansion!
Are you scared by this little 4k game?
Haunted House
System: 2600
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Adventure
Graphics Score: 75%
Sound & Music Score: 100%
Gameplay Score: 85%
Control Score: 80%

Final Score: 90%

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