Check Out This Alternate Artwork For Atari’s Haunted House!

Images courtesy of Atari Mania.

Images courtesy of Atari Mania.

I received Atari’s Haunted House for my birthday back in 1981, I really enjoyed it but for some reason I got it in my head that maybe what I needed was Atari’s port of Berzerk. To be fair it might have had a little something to do with that Atari Force comic that was packaged with the cartridge.

Berzerk - Atari 2600 - Atari Mania

So my Father drove me to our local store and I gave my Haunted House to the clerk and explained I wanted to trade it for Berzerk. The clerk was a teenager and he fixed me with a smirk as he said, “Yeah, this Haunted House game is no fun at all.” So he hands me Berzerk but then the Electronics Manager comes over and asks why I was trading Haunted House for the new game and not another copy of the original game. I didn’t know what to say and I was getting the sinking feeling that I was about to have to hand Berzerk back over but my Father put his hand on my shoulder and said, “This Haunted House game is too easy for my Son, he beat it within 10 minutes. For the money we spent we want something that will last longer.” That was that and I went home with my new cartridge.

To be fair I really do like Haunted House and I am quite happy to have it in my collection. But thanks to Atari Mania we can now get a look at this alternate Haunted House artwork, certainly seems like at some point someone decided to go with the creepiness factor of the artwork up top versus the emphasis on the Graves Mansion as well as showing a young woman in distress.

Haunted House - Cart Art - Atari Mania

One of those reasons is that the game went through a couple of different names during programming. Mystery Mansion, Graves Manor, and then Nightmare Manor before Haunted House was chosen.


Editor at Retroist
Searching through the alleys for useful knowledge in the city of Nostalgia. Huge cinema fanatic and sometimes carrier of the flame for the weirding ways of 80s gaming, toys, and television. When his wife lets him he is quite happy sitting in the corner eating buckets of beef jerky.

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4 thoughts on “Check Out This Alternate Artwork For Atari’s Haunted House!

  1. vinvectrex says:

    I’ll never top Max Power’s comment – ha!

    Both great games, but I’ve always preferred Berzerk myself. And, while I like the original artwork better, the alternative version does at least have a house in it. It always struck me as odd that there wasn’t a mansion of some sort in the box artwork.

  2. Atari Adventure Square says:

    Indeed, if a house were to be haunted and requiring a videogamer’s ghostbusting touch, you’d figure the said-building would appear on the mission box.

    I woulda guessed the buster was already inside the house when the graphic was hastily hand-drawn in between wandering spiders and ghostey visions, but there’s a branch sticking out, like an old indian grave tree awaiting unsuspecting kids to go to bed so it can crash through their window and fly off into the night.

    (uh, guess what movie I watched this week)

    I could never have traded in my Haunted House cart, despite the apparent blankness of visuals that are part-and-parcel of a Dark-and-Stormy-night kinda game.

    But I agree Berserk had more arcade-gamer, long-term appeal (and I held onto that one as well, to this day).

    Candy apples and Sunkist oranges, anyway.

    Lastly, that alternate artwork was as great as any Atari cart art of the time, but… yeah, an unfortunately inappropriate design as Max points out.

  3. Good points, my friends. I always say the original artwork eyes as belonging to a young kid…but that could be because I was imposing myself at the time on the artwork. There is certainly a Lurking Fear thing going on there with those eyes on the alternate artwork!

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