It’s been 20 years since the release of Apogee’s version of Halloween Harry. How does it hold up today? Let’s see!
Zombies, Babes, and Monsters, oh my!
First, we’ll start with a little history behind the game. Originally released in 1985, Halloween Harry was the second game by John Passfield. It wasn’t until eight years later in 1993 that a collaboration with Apogee software got Passfield’s game an overhaul and into a bigger market. It was a huge success in the shareware market. If you’re unfamiliar with shareware, it was a way for companies to distribute their games to the masses before the internet did that. Often times you’d get the entirety of the first episode, which in most cases was no small bit of game. Not like the demos we’re used to today! It all worked via two things most people today have probably forgotten exist – snail mail and floppy disks!
Unfortunately, as much of a success as it was, the game saw its sales plummet later in the year. At first the company thought it was due to the game having “Halloween” in the title, and thought it caused people to think it was a Halloween themed game, which it kind of is. This led to the game getting a name change to “Alien Carnage” to help quell the confusion.
Later on down the line, Apogee reflected back on the timing and realized it might’ve had something to do with the release of a little game that I’m sure no one’s heard of, a little thing called DooM, which released the same year.
So, was Harry shot down by a poorly timed namesake, or did DooM spell doom for him? Let’s see!
Don’t Stop Me Now
The story behind Halloween Harry is Harry, an ex-marine (I thought those didn’t exist…), has to save Earth from ghouls, zombies, and other assorted monsters. Strapped with a flamethrower and a jetpack, Harry sets out to rescue hostages in assorted environments.
Is That Standard Ordinance?
The flamethrower isn’t his only weapon though, he’s also got some fancy target seeking missiles, Omega bombs, Thermo grenades, and an assortment of other baddie squashing weapons.
One thing you might come to realize very quickly, is that his jetpack and flamethrower share ammo, which really makes you think about how to engage enemies, if at all. That said, you can find vending machines throughout the levels to purchase ammo, health refills, and other things to keep Harry going.
I Totally Got This
Harry has little issue moving around the office buildings, sewers, and other areas he finds himself during his adventure. The jetpack feels about like you’d expect – it has some sway to it, but not too much that it becomes a pain in the ass to use.
Something that is a bit of a pain, and took some getting used to, was that the Space Bar switches your weapon. Like most people who have spent any time playing modern games, I was hitting Space expecting him to jump. It takes a little getting used to, but over all, it’s nothing too hindering.
Pulling switches isn’t too bad either, you stand next to one and hit fire. There you go, switch flipped!
Rescuing hostages isn’t overly taxing as you can just walk over to them and they’re freed. Freeing hostages is, again, one of the main points of the game, and anytime you free one, they’ll reward you with full health.
All in all, the controls do what you need them to without a fuss.
Chiseled Chins And Shiny Teeth
Halloween Harry looked and sounded amazing back in 1993, and for the most part, it still does.
The sound effects are awesome. From Harry’s flamethrower to the monsters’ grunts, everything fits together really well. The only problem I had with it when I went back to refresh myself for this review, was that I had some trouble getting the music to work, but once I did, it was awesome.
The game looks even better than it sounds. Smooth animations and designs that were the zenith of an era show off like they own the world, and it’s a really beautiful thing to see. I don’t know how many other people out there are in the same boat as I am, but I can still look at an NES game and go “Damn, that looks AWESOME!” The same goes for anything from then to now. Well, as long as I think it looks awesome, anyway.
Trick Or Treat?
So, in the end, is Halloween Harry worth your time and money? Yes and no, respectively. Yes, it’s worth your time without a doubt. The game is still awesome. No, it’s not worth your money, because you can’t buy it anymore, but you can download it for free! I’ll be including a link to the game and DOSBox so you can download them and kick some alien ass!
All in all, Halloween Harry is a classic platformer that looks, controls, and sounds amazing. There’s a reason Apogee put out a ton of great games back in the late 80’s and early 90’s! Also, the original release date was October 10th 1993, so Harry’s officially 20 years old! Happy birthday, Harry!
That’s all from me for now.
You folks have fun, take care, and I’ll see you next time!