RELEASED: 1986 (Arcade)
AVAILABLE ON: ARC, NES
PUBLISHER(S): Exidy, American Game Cartridges (NES)
Now here's a game I've wanted to add to the Monster Mash for ages; it's definitely not good, but it fits the usual bill perfectly as it is one of the most intentionally distasteful horror-themed games ever made. Chiller was first released in the arcades in 1986, after several modifications to the very thin "plot". Nobody rightly knew where arcade veterans Exidy were going with this game - some believed they were intentionally rallying for bankruptcy. The early 90's were the golden era of unlicensed NES cartridges, made by a few American companies as inspired by Tengen's success in the field of unlicensed NES games in the 80's. American Game Cartridges was one of the "biggest names" in the field and in 1990, they delivered an 8-bit port of Chiller, which was kinda interesting since it actually supported the Nintendo Zapper despite being an unauthorized release. No one in the right mind would've ever expected Chiller to turn up on the NES as it was in the arcades; even as an unlicensed game, it went through some heavy censorship. ...But it's still quite revolting. Let's have a look: this might not be a long review, but it's something that absolutely has to be done.
The only way to exit is going piece by piece
Here's the plot as described on the box: a medieval castle has been invaded by some evil force which is causing the dead to rise from their graves, and you play the role of a poor man's ghostbuster who's been tasked with collecting the 32 talismans of the castle and stop the undead uprising.
|Do not worry, I've come to save you! ...Oh, wait.|
No I haven't.
Oh, dear Lord. The title of the game paints a picture of a very standard, somewhat comedic b-horror game - not far apart from the original Castlevania, Monster Party or even Ghoul School. Sorry for mentioning Castlevania in this context, but it did come out around the same time as the original Chiller. The box art for the NES game supports this assumption, looking like a poster for an 80's horror comedy, graced with the tag line "Dead People Are Cool". That tag gets a whole new meaning once you start the game. Let's make it clear at this point that I'm not that disgusted by the game, I'm just wondering what the hell went on in the developers' minds.
In terms of the amount of content, Chiller is a throwback to classic arcade - it only has four levels, looped over and over, and they get harder each time, with more required targets and a tighter time limit. However, unlike other arcade games built like this, you can "beat" Chiller by shooting out special items or just some random bundles of pixels in each of the levels - 32 in all - to gain talismans. You see all the talismans you've gathered and the targets you've missed during the whole game in the level start screen. Now some of these "talismans" are indeed some background details, or some easily missable stuff amidst the "excitement", such as a rat randomly running across the level floor, Some of them are something completely different.
|You guys having a party in here? (Notice how|
calm they are?)
Anyway, the next level, the last one, is even worse in terms of taste, as it brings a few more people into the mix, really close up - including a naked young lady strapped into a full-body gutting device, another into a guillotine, and one guy's literally got his head in a vice. Once again you can just blast your way through this last level, or get creative with your sick mind and get both of those vice and guillotine running for starters. How utterly exciting... not nearly as exciting as being taken back to the beginning of the game to hunt for the missing talismans, though. And the circle goes on and on and on, until you power off. Which is something like ten minutes into the game at the most.
Unlicensed NES games were rarely half decent, and never very creative. If Chiller is one of the most interesting unlicensed titles out there, things were not well in that field - even if my "interest" in Chiller has nothing to do with quality or creativity, it's about testing the limits. I appreciate that in a certain way. It's a fun game to SEE running on an NES, that's all there is to it.
+ You know, I really can't come up with anything useful
- Same as above; it's obvious how bad the game is
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