Retro Corner – Haunting

haunting megadriveI thought I would go with something Halloween or horror themed for this week’s 4-One Retro Corner, and with me being a general wuss when it comes to horror and gore, I am opting for something a little less jumpy. Well, not for the player, more so for the victims in the game. Ghouls and ghoulies, this week’s game is Haunting, for the Sega Megadrive/Genesis and PlayStation Portable.

Haunting starring Polterguy was released in 1993 for the Sega Megadrive/Genesis, and was developed and published by Electronic Arts. The game saw you taking control of Polterguy, whose mission was to scare the wits out of a family who move into their new home. Upon successful completion, the family will leave the house and move to another house, acting as the second, third and fourth stages of the game.

haunting gameplayPolterguy is a rebellious punk teenager who was killed in an accident involving defective skateboards manufactured by business mogul Vito Sardini and his corporation. Polterguy seeks revenge by haunting Vito’s home and tormenting him and his family from beyond the grave by effectively being a Poltergeist.

To picture it, imagine playing The Sims, but from the perspective of a ghost, who can’t be seen. What you do is you run around the house to different rooms where the parents and kids are getting on with their lives. Press a button to jump into one of the many household items and decor, and have them activate or fall off the wall, move across the room, or display a scary face in the case of paintings. Eventually, the family member will freak out, and run into another room. Do this repeatedly to all members of the family, and they all pack up and do a runner out the front door.

Polterguy must jump into the object that has a “Fright ’em” glowing on it to activate the object for a jump scare to one of the family members. There are three different types of Fright ’ems to interact with, though they can be tied to virtually any object in the game you see. The Fright ’ems found in the game are as follows:

  • haunting gameplayBlue Fright ’ems

These Fright ’ems work automatically, meaning they will activate as soon as a family member gets close enough to one after Polterguy has decided to activate, or “load” it.

  • Orange Fright ’ems

These are manual, meaning that you have to press a button to activate the exact moment of haunting the object at the player’s own will.

  • Green Fright ’ems

These allow the player to take control of certain objects. With the use of green Fright ’ems, the player can use the D-pad to float around ghostly heads, possessed toy airplanes, or severed hands, to name a few. You can move these objects around to frighten the Sardini family, and usually, you can press a button for an added effect, such as flying toy aircraft shooting projectiles for an added fear effect to the family members.

Now for the dull aspect of Haunting. When Polterguy runs out of Ecto, which is used to activate these jump scares, Polterguy must go to the Underworld to collect more. In doing this, he is transported to a cave-like location, where threats are there that can kill him. Collect enough of the green goo in the dungeons, and the exit will be revealed, allowing you to continue scaring the family in the real world. As a kid, I found these areas quite hard, although I’d be curious to see how I get on nowadays, with my amazing gaming skills…. *cough*

Haunting-Starring-Polterguy-Electronic-Arts-1990-Sega-Genesis-Mega-Drive-Xtreme-Retro-4The family dog, chihuahua whose name is unknown, is the only living creature in the game that can detect Polterguy in the house. When the dog barks at Polterguy, the ecto meter substantially drops, and the fear levels of any family members in the room go down, since the dog is said to “comfort” the Sardinis, effectively calming them down from the fear Polterguy induces.

Haunting starring Polterguy was received well, and still ranks highly on aged gamers’ lists of fun and memorable games. Being an EA title, it’s almost crazy and considerable to imagine that this game, in a certain way, inspired The Sims. The game is viewed from an isometric view, and although the game is all 2D, it could easily be recreated in The Sims if it was modded. Maybe it was, I don’t know, but I can see how it could be.

Tell us, do you remember this game, and did you play it?


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