Check out this Atari Haunted House Alternate Artwork

Check out this Atari Haunted House Alternate Artwork

I received Atari’s Haunted House for my birthday back in 1981. I really enjoyed it, but it was not the game I really wanted that birthday. For some reason, I got it in my head that 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.

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 Atari Haunted House Alternate Artwork. It is a very different perspective that ups the creepiness factor. Even as a an adult, looking at the distressed look on the woman’s face gives me the creeps.

Perhaps one of those reasons for the artwork variation is name changes. Haunted House went through a couple of different names during programming. It was Mystery Mansion, Graves Manor, and Nightmare Manor, before Haunted House was chosen.


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.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. “Stop staring at my chest”

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. This is a comment on a way old post, but the reason the artwork changed is because there was a manager at Atari who saw where the eyes were placed and said, “You can’t place those, there!”. From the Atari Artwork Book.

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