Insert Disk collects Chiller for the ZX Spectrum.
Today’s retro game review is Chiller for the ZX Spectrum. This retro gaming classic is part of the Mastertronic 199 series, a range aimed at delivering Spectrum and Commodore 64 games at budget prices. Chiller is somewhat of a Micheal Jackson’s Thriller themed Manic Miner close. It’s a simple Halloween platformer with a lot of charm.
Greetings collectors and welcome to today’s retro game review. I thought that we should take a look back at an early horror themed game today for the ZX Spectrum. Let’s travel back to 1985 to witness the evil of the Chiller. OK, so I’ll level with you, this is a bit of a shorter filler episode whilst I get the main Halloween content together. Yes, it’s filler, filler tonight. Nevertheless there’s some fun to be had here. We’ve mentioned the Mastertronic publisher here before on the channel, most notably my equal distain and marvel at some of their releases for the Commodore 54 and ZX Spectrum in the early to mid-80’s. Who can forget such classics as Jungle Story and Bionic Granny? You’ll be pleased to know that Chiller also makes it in to that exclusive Mastertronic £1.99 range, yes back in the day you really could buy a game for £1.99, quite often to horrifying results.
So Chiller, think Michael Jackson’s Thriller mixed with the game play of Manic Miner. Your task is rather simple, all you have to do to escape the level is collect the magic crosses.
But it wouldn’t be a Spectrum platformer if there weren’t a whole host of pre-defined route bad guys out to get you such as the zombie, a different zombie, a jellyfish, this thing and the Pac-man ghost that was too ugly to make the real game. Should they touch you your energy meter will drain. Once drained, you’re dead. There are of course health boosters such as the mushrooms. The blue mushrooms will increase your health whilst the pink ones will reduce it. It’s perhaps one of the few elements of planning in the game as plotting the optimum route around the screen so that you have access to the blue mushrooms can be essential. Here the game is particularly cruel as you have to collect a pink mushroom in order to reach the top canopy for the magic cross. In general the game works rather well. It does feel similar too Manic Miner and I have no major complaints. The ropes can be a bit tricky to master but that’s all part of the fun of getting a game for pocket money prices. Speaking of Prices you won’t find a Vincent Price laughter track in the game nor will you find much of any sound save for a few beeps as you collect crosses and finish a level. The first editions of the game did have a track sounding something similar to the Thriller soundtrack. Due to legal action threatened this was removed from later runs of the game. Oh yes, you had to be quite the geek to have a first edition.
As for the artwork of Chiller, well it’s great. The discount Michael Jackson is actually fairly well illustrated, the woman in the background looks suitable confused as if to say where has by invisible keyboard gone. Oh and there’s bats because nothing conveys horror better than bats. So, it Chiller worth your while? Oddly I’d have to say that it is. If you’re like me and have a bit of a guilty pleasure for these types of games it’s certainly a good challenge. It is very much what it is and nothing else. Good old fashioned monster themed platforming. It has all those common Spectrum problems such as imprecise controls, limited sound and colour clash but if you want to kick off the Halloween season with the basics or just want a 5 minute thrill you can’t go too far wrong with Chiller.