A fascinating and challenging video game
for the Sega Master System
. Our hero
is Max, a young man (or elf
, depending on how you interpret his appearance) who has just inherited a treasure trove
, and even opals
," according to the game box. However, he has to retrieve them from a lovely estate
, inhabited by not one, but five
". In each of the six levels
, Max needs to defeat baddies
(see below) to find the keys to the Dracs' coffins
, soundly thrash
them through punching
, and find a magical exit. This game is quite notable for defying a number of rules of video game logic
- Dero-Bats: Analogous to the goombas of Super Mario Brothers fame, these flying nuisances are essentially Max's cannon fodder. Contrary to usual 8-bit logic, the bats actually die upon coming in contact with you, not the other way around. However, their kamikaze tactics can put you in a jam when you're low on health.
- Ghosts: An eerie shade of blue, these non-corporeal beings like to push you out of doorways (which rapidly transport you through the house) and otherwise be bothersome. Max can punch them, stab them or use the classic jump-on-the-head method. (How he makes contact remains a mystery.)
- Fire-Breathers: These enemies look a lot like the Kool-Aid mascot would in a bad nightmare. My best guess at their body make-up is that they have a reserve of hydrogen in their massive stomach. This would explain the catastrophe that occurs when Max stomps or stabs one, as they explode in Hindenburg-type fashion.
- The Mummy: Another undead nemesis, the Mummy is intelligent enough to climb ladders in pursuit of poor Max. It takes two stabs to defeat the Mummy (he is -- *gasp!* -- unsquashable), who proceeds to melt into the ground, presumably because Max has caused him to leak out too much precious embalming fluid...
- Dracula: After Max obtains a key from one of these lesser enemies, he can open up one of several coffins in the house to set Drac loose. Drac can fly around as a bat and head-butt you into submission, or resume his human form, trap you against a wall and claw/bite you to death. As you progress through the six levels, Draculas are continually tougher to defeat, taking one more stab (or two more punches) per level to beat him. Wooden stakes are unnecessary. After three or more good stabs, Drac breaks into pieces and decomposes -- as another evil twist, each level may contain one "True Dracula," which reincarnates immediately after decomposing, to attack you again. After defeating one of these monsters, Max needs to grab Dracula's floating, still-beating heart to obtain the gem he was protecting. (This heart also restores all of Max's health. It would appear that Max eats the heart to find the prize in the center. Those programmers sure were wacky then.)
- Traps: What trip to a haunted house would be complete without some traps to hinder your progress, deplete your health, and otherwise make your life miserable? Well, the sadistic designers of this game have several.
There are actually some things in the house that will make Max's quest easier (read: manageable). "?" boxes on the ground serve as first-aid kits, restoring some health, secret passageways in the walls allow you to go around the house while avoiding enemies, and fake walls allow Max to pass into hidden areas. Most important are the ceiling lamps that (almost inexplicably) allow you to stop time, leaving you free to go on a killing spree.
After level three, the levels repeat, but are more chock-full
of enemies. The swords
fly at your head about three times as quickly. As you complete a level, your gems are displayed, along with an increasingly exciting adjective
(Great! Excellent! Outstanding! Unbelievable! etc.). The music is a moderately repetitive blend of jazzy and spooky elements. In all, one of the most entertaining games to grace the SMS's Sega Card