Insert Disk collects Horror Zombies From The Crypt for the Commodore Amiga.
Today’s retro game review is Horror Zombies From The Crypt for the Commodore Amiga. This retro gaming classic is a horror puzzle platform game. It combines B-Movie horror with all the fun of a well made puzzle game. Horror Zombies may now look a little dated in places but it holds up very well as a retro horror themed game. It’s thought provoking, fun and has really stood the test of time with gamers looking for a fix of not so serious Halloween horror gaming.
Greetings collectors and welcome to today’s retro game review. The gaming industry has produced numerous horror themed games over the years. Some shocking, others thought provoking and others operate with a sense of humour. Today’s game looks to deliver all the fun of the B-Movie Horror genre into a puzzle platformer. Get ready as we prepare to revisit Horror Zombies from the Crypt.
Published in 1990 by Millennium Interactive and U.S. Gold for the Amiga, DOS and Atari ST, Horror Zombies from the Crypt is somewhat of a one off. It’s best explained as a movie within a game, that movie happens to based on all the classic horror tropes that you can shake a rotting limb at. There’s vampires, headless ghosts, haunted armour, Frankenstein’s monsters, skeletons, frog things, old women, werewolves and of course zombies. Now, I’m going to call it straight out, is this a horror game? Well, no, not really. Only in the sense that the horror in the game is all around the theme rather than the intent to scare. The game would work just as well if you reskinned this one with cute woodland characters and bright backdrops, the underlying game is essentially a clever platform puzzle game. It’s not a survival horror game or packed with jump scares and in my opinion that’s a good thing. The designers have really had to put effort into the game play which is what makes Horror Zombies from the Crypt a perennial favourite with the fans. The horror themed sprites just give this one the edge it needs to be a very memorable experience.
Right from the start you’ve got the tongue in cheek word play of the main cast and a mini film reel to introduce each level. It’s cringe worthy but it really helps set the tone for the game. Don’t expect any change from this tone, the game bravely sticks to this B-Movie feel throughout. The game play is possibly going to be a bit divisive if it’s been awhile since you last played a classic puzzle platform game. Much of the game play is about timing, the general rule is that if you touch an enemy you die and boy do you die. Upon death you’ll be left to enjoy a horrific animation of your characters head exploding. It’s gruesome and very well executed. Anyway, back to the puzzle platforming. To survive each stage you’ll need to use your wits, generally by collecting items and avoiding traps. The levels are linear in the sense that there is usually only one way to complete them. However, you’ll need to sometimes backtrack on yourself once you have collected an item to progress. Early on you’ll find the boots. Use these to activate the ability to sneak past certain enemies. It’s all about knowing where and when to use the collectibles that gives Horror Zombies from the Crypt such a distinctive feel. One of my favourite pickups is the Zombie potion. Activate this to turn in to a zombie for a short period of time. Whilst this skill is active other zombies are none the wiser to your presence. Werewolves on the other hand will still try to eat you.
Of course Horror Zombies wouldn’t be a classic 90’s platform game without the hidden areas to find. Knowing which mirror to enter will allow you to enter areas rich with bonus items. The game generally moves at a really good pace. You won’t be able to just breeze through it unless you know where all of the items are and how to solve the puzzles. The puzzles themselves can be as simple as pushing a bench to reach a higher area to knowing when to use the special item. Horror Zombies feels like very genuine attempt to make a solid puzzle platformer. It has a lot going for it in terms of gameplay and you’ll certainly be swept along by its classic soundtrack.
As you may expect though this type of game won’t be for everyone. Once you’ve worked out where to go and what to do Horror Zombies is an excellent rendition of the genre and I can see this one still having a wide appeal. The gameplay is solid enough to overlook some of the game’s shortcomings. If there are shortcomings with the game it’s in the cheap deaths. As this is a platformer you would usually expect the odd slightly unfair death, even Sonic the Hedgehog faces the unexpected spike pit every now and then. The issue here is the unavoidable death. Bear in mind that the lives mechanism is a 1 hit death. However, there will be occasions where zombies or other enemy will suddenly appear from behind a wall. If you had not played the level before then you’d have no idea that death was inevitable and impossible to avoid. This combination of trial and error to have the knowledge of the instant deaths combined with the 1 hit death mechanism will almost certainly annoy some players. It’s a small point but cheap deaths in games in general are rarely welcome. Having said that you do get that great head exploding death animation so there is an upside. You also get that smug feeling of satisfaction once you finally remember all of the pitfalls. Despite the occasional cheap death I still can’t help but feel the charm of the game still lifts the player to persevere, it’s the sign of a well-designed game.
In terms of packaging Horror Zombies from the Crypt has had some attention given to it. Millennium have provided a really decent sized big box with some memorable zombie B-Movie inspired graphics. You’ll get the all-important floppy disk as well as manual and a rather handy hint guide to get you started. Overall it’s a very solid offering and true to the feel of the game overall. Pricing for Horror Zombies from the Crypt can be quite erratic. Its become quite collectable for a number of reasons. Firstly its a great game and secondly because more memorable horror games can tend to hold their value quite well. To top this off there are dedicated collectors of Millennium software so this game hits quite a few marks for horror game collectors. You should be able to find this one complete in box for the £15-£20 mark. However, for near mint editions we have seen prices of up to £50.
For the price I’d argue that Horror Zombies from the Crypt is worth a purchase if you’re looking for a horror themed puzzle platformer. It has some very clever elements and some fiendish game play. The game initially eases you in but isn’t afraid to ramp up the difficulty curve in the later stages. You’ll need both brains and skill to finish this one off. Combine all of this with the very distinctive B-Movie theme and you’ve actually got something quite special. Horror Zombies from the Crypt isn’t by any means a rare game to find, the price holds up very well though, I expect at least partially to it being a game that gamers really still want to play.
The game is knowingly cheesy with no apologies for what it is. The style penetrates everything about this game from the great box artwork right through to the soundtrack, graphics and clever puzzles. What this all builds to is an addictive and well executed game concept with bags of personality. If you’re in the mood for a fun platformer or just a fun game for Halloween then Horror Zombies from the Crypt has you covered.