Thursday, 16 January 2014

Ghost Chaser

For some, it's an obscure title from way back, for others; it's an obscure but fun title from way back. Ghostchaser. The premise is simple enough and quite amusing even for a C64 game. There's a shitload of treasure in a house, way way down in the basement, but it's haunted and if you try to go and get it, you could die!

It's not going to win the prize for best written plot, but at least it has one and there's rules to go with dying. For a start, you can touch anything 3 times within any room and then you'll die, be it spooks, small ghosts or water drops. Even the Big Ghost that can randomly turn up and patrol the rooms can be touched up to 3 times within a room. If you leave the room and come back in immediately again, it's back to be touched up three times and then dying. Not exactly the Jimmy Saville approach but it's close enough.

Your character, the wonderfully nicknamed Twatz McGibbons, who decides with his apparently receding hair-line, to brave the mystery of the haunted house (and from the outside it's JUST a house but becomes the fucking Tardis on the inside). Armed with what can only be described as balls, will be able to shoot his balls at the Big Ghost and scare it off temporarily, while the smaller ghosts will ignore that shit and continue to try and kill you anyway.

Falling too far will kill you, falling through the floor will kill you, being hit by the crusher will hit you (A one off trap) or touching any spook/ghost three times within any single room, will kill you. The problem with this 3 hit rule is that when you're hit you're forced to watch Twatty-Boy shake back and forth from the "shock" and all control of the character is frozen. This means if the ghost or spook is STILL touching you by the time it wears off, you’re getting hit AGAIN.

When it happens the 3rd time, you're angry enough to rip the game's bollocks off with your teeth before you start the room again and await to have to do the same dance again. The unfair-frustration level is quite well established here on this one. But, I hear you say "why should I give a shit?" and instead I'm translating that as "How can I defend myself?" which leads me more nicely into the next point, that you can run, jump, dunk, shimmy and shoot balls at Big Ghost.

But therein lays the problem, the controls. Up is jump/climb, left is left, right is right and down is duck or climb down a ladder. Shooting requires you to hold still, then press the fire button and THEN in the direction (1 of 4) you wish to send your balls flying. So shooting left, will send you slightly to the left as you WALK that way. The same with moving right and shooting downwards will invariably make you duck.

Now, for a bonus point and a slice of Bod's patented "State the fucking obvious" pie, what is going to happen when you shoot upwards? Yep that's right, you JUMP. A slice of pie for you and a big hearty... heart attack for being a smart-arse. Yes, you jump upwards on an upwards shot, which is NOT helpful when trying to avoid a plethora of slow moving enemies that could be coming from all manner of directions.

But while you scout every room in the house from the Kitchen, to the Greenhouse (in the upstairs rooms... the fuck?) to the Bathroom, Bedrooms and more. Find the key to get into the painting with the "watching you" eyes and then into the bowels of the under-house where the architecture and graphics begin to really represent a deep, dank and uninviting place (not where Berk lives, that's Trapdoor, another dank and uninviting place), where the number of spooks increases, you'll find graves, wine cellars and more deadly traps on your search for the large treasure (immediately followed by the 'GAME OVER' as if you lost... maybe you have? Ooh the mind fuck!) and take on the Big Ghost while he steadily haunts you for trying to take (assumedly) his treasure.

Musically, there's the little haunting melody at the start of the game, and then silence throughout from the orchestra. Probably watching you fuck up that one small jump at the start of the 2nd room a few times and giggling their philharmonic balls off at you. All you get are shuffling footstep noises, sliding sine-waves of jumping screams and the high-pitched "you dropped a bollock" squeal each time you get hit. Now, I could argue "Hey 1984! We should be happy with Twatz McGibbons here in all his bald-headed glory!" but I won't. I'm not helping that out at all.

There's some slight replayability in the game but ultimately, there's one ending, the same rooms in the house no matter what with the same ways of beating them, the same traps in the same place and the same effortless ending. Ghostchaser this game might be, but you'll want to run the fuck away from it after the first play through.