Haunted Halloween ’86: The Curse of Possum Hollow (Switch) – Review
Follow Genre: Action, Adventure, Platformer
Developer: Retrotainment Games
Publisher: Retrotainment Games
Platform: NES, PC, Xbox One, Switch
Tested on: Switch

Haunted Halloween ’86: The Curse of Possum Hollow (Switch) – Review

Site Score
8.2
Good: Graphics, Atmosphere, Design
Bad: Hit detection and controls feel 'off' at times
User Score
9.0
(4 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (4 votes cast)

Even though Halloween just passed us by, we have had a few spooky encounters with games recently. We tried out Blair Witch for Xbox One and dived into Remothered for the Nintendo Switch. Both had their spooky elements, but in the 80s it was quite different to deliver a Halloween themed game due to the technical restrictions of the available consoles and hardware for PC. Retrotainment Games has been working on the Haunted Halloween series for the NES, slowly building up an entire homebrewed franchise for the retro console. Their latest game recently got ported to the Xbox One and now Haunted Halloween ’86: The Curse of Possum Hollow has been ported to the Nintendo Switch. We can now relive the adventure of Donny and Tami’s Halloween back in 1986.

Story

Haunted Halloween ’86: The Curse of Possum Hollow is the direct continuation of Haunted Halloween ’85 and throws us back in the shoes of Donny Johnstown, the hero of 1985, who successfully beat back the ghoulish onslaught that was plaguing the town. Now, a year later, close to Halloween, things seem to be going awry once more. This time you’ll have the help of Tami, to kick back the hordes of monsters that are roaming around the town.

This iteration of the game presents its story with dialogues and tiny cutscenes, rather than heaps of text that you’ll have to read through before a level. The overall format is nice to follow, and while the story won’t be winning any Oscars any time soon, the story is pleasant to play through.

Graphics

Haunted Halloween ’86 is foremost a title that has been developed for the first Nintendo Entertainment System which dates back to the eighties. This device was limited in what it could squeeze out, but even so, The Curse of Possum Hollow looks like an exquisite piece of art. The backdrops feel alive and aren’t as static as most other releases on Nintendo’s retro console. The movements are fluid, and there are proper animations to be found in the game, especially when performing special moves with Donny and Tami. It’s clear that some issues have been cleaned up for the Switch port, such as the reduction of screen flickering, making the game a lot more pleasing to the eye. The aspect ratio is still the same as that on the NES, which means that the game will not adapt to our current widescreen monitors. This isn’t a big issue, but it does take a bit of getting used to having to play with black borders on a modern console.

Sound

Just like the graphics, the sound design finds itself within the boundaries and capabilities of the NES. This means that the music is pretty much chiptune-based and while the game doesn’t have that many tunes that will stick in your head throughout the day, the music is well designed and puts you in the proper atmosphere. Of course, in a typical NES fashion, the music might start to annoy you the 20th time you die trying to succeed in a hard platforming section. That being said, the music is by no means bad, and is actually catchy enough for the game’s theme. The special effects are done in a simplistic fashion, as is typical for games such as this, and while they are not memorable, they do the job they’re supposed to.

Gameplay

Haunted Halloween ’86: The Curse of Possum Hollow is an action platformer that was originally developed for the Nintendo Entertainment System as a homebrew game. The game will send you through different ghoul-infested levels, to kick ass, see what the hell is going on, and hopefully save the day as you did in Haunted Halloween ’85. This version allows you to play with both Donny and Tami, by being able to switch between characters on the fly. When getting hit, you slowly get zombified, and after around five hits you’ll join the hordes of the undead. When one character is almost at the edge of turning into a monster, you can switch and play with the other character, as they will have separate health conditions. Both characters play similarly, but Tami might just look a bit leaner and quicker than Donny, but this is pretty much just appearance-wise only.

As we were lucky enough to try both HH’85 and HH’86, we saw many improvements in how expansive this second game actually is. In the original game, you could wallop your opponents, but only with a very simple move set. This game, however, offers an arsenal of different moves, such as a double jump, actual combos, special moves and so on, making the gameplay a bit more complex. Compared to the original, this one feels a bit harder as well. You’ll have several lives at your disposal, and when you die, you’ll have to replay the section you died in. If all your lives are gone, you’ll have to play the entire level over again. The game will give you a password after each completed level, making it so that you don’t actually need to save. We advise you to take a screenshot of the passwords with the easy screen capture function of the Switch.

The game does have a few issues in terms of hit detection and the overall hit-boxes of objects. You will notice yourself falling from platforms from time to time, even though you’re not at the end yet. We sometimes triggered our double jump for no reason, and the game does have a few issues when you have enemies coming from both sides and you have to switch direction quickly. The game handles better with the D-pad, rather than the left stick.

Something that wasn’t in the original NES release is the added Onslaught mode. This mode just throws you in the heat of battle, trying to survive waves and make it to the next level. You’ll have five lives and when they are gone, you will have your kill score to hang up on your mantle. This mode instantly grants you the ability to use all your moves and is just simply a lot of fun.

Conclusion

Haunted Halloween ’86: The Curse of Possum Hollow for the Nintendo Switch is a great port and offers premium content compared to many other indie releases on Nintendo’s handheld console. While the game has a few hiccups that were common for the NES, it’s overall a great adventure to dig your teeth in. We are quite impressed that Retrotainment Games is able to whip up an NES franchise/series in this current day and age. While the studio is currently focusing on another NES release, we hope to see more games revolving around Donny and Tami.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (4 votes cast)
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Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Haunted Halloween ’86: The Curse of Possum Hollow (Switch) – Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
Ibuki
Ibuki


Aspiring ninja.

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