REVIEW – Haunted: Halloween ’86 – The Curse of Possum Hallow (Switch)

Originally released on an actual NES cartridge in 2016 thanks to the dedicated group at Retrotainment and Mega Cat Studios, Haunted: Halloween ’86 – The Curse of Possum Hallow is now available as a Switch eShop download. This is a new 8-Bit Nintendo game, programmed using the NES programming language, which is something pretty special in 2019, for better or worse.

If you didn’t grow up with a NES, you might be in for a shock as the difficulty is high and controls are loose.  Played as a 2D side-scrolling beat’em up, the player can switch between two characters at will, essentially giving the player an extended life bar. Using only two buttons, the player can jump and attack and eventually unlock new abilities, like a double jump or slide attack, by collecting options items. In comparison to other fan favorite NES games like Ninja Gaiden or TMNT, Haunted: Halloween ’86 is a little different since combat can grow when new abilities are gained instead of having access to the same repertoire of moves from the start. Taking on creatures of the undead, each common enemy usually has a trick to being defeated such as low kicking or upper cutting a zombie’s head off – it is one step deeper than basic hack and slash.  There is even a gauntlet mode that test the player’s combat abilities found on the main menu.

While I definitely appreciate the creation of a new NES game in today’s gaming landscape, there is no denying that some gameplay elements make the entire experience more frustrating than it needs to be.  The running and jumping, for example, are much too loose and inaccurate and will cause frustrating accidental deaths. Bosses are also tricky as the player needs to learn their patterns but also deal with the slippery controls.

It is easy to see the dedication in creating a title like this but is very unfortunate that it isn’t memorable, leaves much to be desired, and tries desperately to restore that feeling of being a kid on a Saturday morning watching cartoons with a bowl of cereal in lap. Even though it doesn’t hit the bullseye, there is no denying the fact that playing a new legit NES game in 2019 is pretty cool and curious to see what Mega Cat does next.

SCORE: 5/10

Also Try: Alwa’s Awakening (PS4)
Don’t Forget About: the NES Classic system
Play It Instead: the Xbox One version for easy Achievements

By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief
Twitter: @ZackGaz

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