"Oh no! The nice doggy has eaten you all up! You'll never rescue Penelope this way."
The adventure game opens in front of your typical haunted house. Lightning flashes bright purple upon the foreground. A mean looking bat hovers around a dark window. As the cutesy PC speaker music plays a sinister tune, we see an odd looking guy in a purple sweater and turquoise pants power walk awkwardly across the screen. This is Hugo. You play Hugo.
Hugo has come to the mansion to rescue his girlfriend Penelope, who disappeared there while babysitting. The player helps Hugo explore the mansion and ultimately find Penelope. The story is pretty predictable. A few situations Hugo ends up in are a bit on the strange side. The author seems to enjoy playing around with the main character animation, like in scenes where Hugo wears a mask or loses coordination. The effect borders on surreal.
Much of the game is spent finding objects and interacting with a cast of shifty characters. It's good to save often, as death is possible and likely along the way. Some puzzles have an obvious solution, while others require a bit of thinking. The game is easy compared to other adventure games, yet it is still quite enjoyable.
Graphics in the game are EGA. Most backgrounds are simply drawn and not very detailed. They do the job, though, and usually the player can tell what is going on from the picture. Hugo is always present on the screen from a third person perspective. In the DOS release, his motions are controlled with the arrow keys. There are few maze like puzzles in this game, but near the end there is a tricky maneuvering puzzle involving a mummy.
In the original DOS version, released on January 1st, 1990, a text parser is used for interaction. Early Sierra games, like Gold Rush! or Space Quest I to III, use a similar interface. Typing something like "look" in the first screen of the mansion gives a brief description of the room. The parser is decent and has many synonyms included. Like with any text based game, certain commands are hard to guess. It can be thoroughly frustrating to know exactly what the character needs to do yet not know the right phrase needed to get it through the parser.
A new version was released on October 9th, 1995, for Windows. For this release, the title was changed to "Hugo's Horrific Adventure." A point and click mouse interface was added, presumably making it easier to get through the puzzles. The text parser remains in tact as an optional way to interact. I have not played this version, but according to the developer's site, it has more features such as MIDI music and a hints system.
Hugo's House of Horrors was designed by Gray Design Associates and published as shareware. Older versions are available for free on the web. The series can also be purchased directly from the developer's website:
The game is the first in a trilogy, followed by "Hugo 2: Whodunit?" and "Hugo 3: Jungle of Doom."