Ghost House was released for the Sega Master System in 1986. It wasn’t until a year later that I discovered it. I was walking though a Crazy Eddie store (that place was awesome, podcast subject perhaps) with my folks when I spotted it.
It wasn’t the game that caught my attention, but the media it came on: a card. When I received my Sega Master System, I was intrigued by a slot in front of the console that said “Card Input”. I didn’t know what that was for. After seeing Ghost House, I understood and yet I was trying to wrap my 10 year old brain around it. I just couldn’t believe they could fit a game onto something that was the size of a credit card.
I begged and pleaded with my mother for the game. I don’t recall, but I’m sure I cried for it as well. Then that Christmas, I got it! It was a stocking stuffer. I quickly read the instructions and got the back story. You play Mick. Mick wants the family jewels. Now that I think of it, I don’t remember if they are his family jewels or some other family’s. Eh, who cares. The important thing is that he has to go into a haunted house to get them. Oh and there’s something odd about Mick; he has pointed ears. I thought he was an elf, maybe a vulcan?
Back to the game…
Ghost House is a side strolling game in which you climb ladders to get from floor to floor. You punch and jump on bats, blue ghosts, mummies, fire-breathing round things, and Dracula. Excuse me, Draculas (is that he proper plural? Draculi?). Yes, there are five Draculi per mansion. How foolish I felt, laboring for 10 years under the false impression that there is only one Dracula, bu that’s not the case in the Ghost House.
After you defeat a Dracula (why not just call them vampires, really?), you get a jewel. Once you find all five jewels, you search for a magic door that takes you to another mansion.
Throughout this haunted house, well,it’s really more a mansion, you’ll find booby traps like arrows being shot at you as you walk past a fireplace. You will also find the occasional dagger being tossed at your head. Which is cool, because just like in real life, if you jump on one, you can use it as a weapon.
There are also power-ups in the game in the form of lamps on the ceiling that causes everything, but Mick, to freeze temporarily.
The soundtrack is good for the first few minutes, but it get’s old quick because it’s the same music through out the entire game. The sound effects and graphics are average for the time. However, you can tell what you are looking at. Keys, ghosts, bats, dead trees, fireplaces, walls, fire… There’s no question what you’re looking at, but nothing ground-breaking here.
The major sucking point: there’s no ending, which is especially lame since the game is repetitive by nature, so when you beat all five stages, you start over. It will remind you of the Atari 2600 days, which is not something they should be going for in 1986. The game is fun, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Go play Black Belt instead. ;)