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Back from the Dead: Best Horror Classics available on the VC

by: JMcEvoy2006 ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

Before the Umbrella Corporation or the random occurrences of the town of Silent Hill, there were simple games of ghouls and monsters. Here's a quick look, just in time for Halloween, at some of the classic horror titles available on the Virtual Console.

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    Horrifying Games

    Looking for a good way to celebrate Halloween without watching cheesy horror flicks or stuff yourself with candy? Well, if you’ve read my article on Wii horror titles, you know video games are a way to do that. In that vein here are five classic horror titles available on the virtual console you can download and enjoy much cheaper than purchasing a bunch of new Wii titles.

    While there are plenty of other classics in horror genre, these are the best available as of know. Not only are they memorable games, but most of these are among the best available on their respective consoles, including the NES.

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    The Original Classic

    This Guy  Looks Familiar  

    Castlevania (NES – 1987)

    No list of classic horror video games is complete without this gem. One of the first epic platforming titles to appear on the Nintendo Entertainment System, it included a host of ghouls and monsters. From movie classic beasts like Frankenstein, hunch backs and fish creatures as well as mythological figures like Medusa heads, this game has a bit of monster goodness for everyone.

    Another horrifying aspect of this game is the sheer difficulty. This is one of the hardest games available on the console. Though weapon upgrades and excellent jump timing is a great way to combat these frustrating obstacles. Also, as a kid, one the scariest video game moments I remember is thinking I beat Dracula, only to see his “true form." The only thing scarier than that was the bittersweet sequel, Simon's Quest.

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    An Impossibly Difficult Scare

    What a Hard Game  

    Ghosts ‘n Goblins (NES – 1986)

    Like Castlevania, this game has an excellent mix of monsters, zombies and demons. Also, like its Konami counterpart, Capcom really took the difficulty up a notch. In fact, I would argue that without a Game Genie, this game is nearly impossible to beat. The game gives you much less room for error. Instead of a typical life bar, the game allows you basically only two hits, the first of which somehow forces you to remove your armor.

    The game also boasts helpful power ups, except for the flame which has no range whatsoever. At any rate, the game is a memorable classic with its fair share of ghoulish creatures ready to destroy you. I hope for the knight’s sake, that the chick he’s trying to rescue is really worth it.

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    Ghosts Don't Get Any Easier

    This Game is Still Hard  

    Ghouls ‘n Ghosts (Genesis -1989)

    This title is similar to its NES predecessor, though the gameplay isn’t as difficult. That said the game is irritating for two reasons. First, the knight has to complete the quest twice, the first go around is to obtain a special weapon to destroy the final boss and the end of the second run through. Also, there is a magician who uses dark magic to turn your character into an elderly man or a duck. Seriously, a duck, what’s up with that?

    However, it’s these silly quirky things that make many classic games so memorable. Again, though the game is slightly easier than its NES and even SNES counterparts, it's still very difficult in its own right.

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    Dracula's Back, Surprise Surprise

    Great Graphics, Great Level Design  

    Castlelvania IV – (SNES 1991)

    This successful sequel to the nes title, Castlevania III Dracula's Curse, is one of my favorite titles on the SNES; it boasts great music and polished graphics. The game has the same difficulties and frustrations that have become a staple in the series and is the last of the numbered Castlevania sequels and is the only Castlevania SNES game, apart from Castlevania: Dracula X.

    It has many of the same characters: flying medusa heads, fish monster (who spit), bats and these weird rock monsters that break into smaller rock monsters when attacked. It was an excellent debut for the series on the 16 bit era and has aged relatively well. That and other factors account for it being one the earlier releases on the VC.

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    There Goes the Neighborhood

    Nice Hair  

    Zombies Ate My Neighbors (SNES - 1993)

    Nowadays, zombies have their own subgenre of video games. There’s even the term “survival horror" which first was coined during the rise of the Resident Evil franchise. There’s also L4D, Dead Rising, House of the Dead, etc. But, before all that, there was Zombies Ate My Neighbors.

    Other than the aforementioned zombies, vampires and werewolves are among the enemies. They can be killed in a variety of humorous ways with different weapons. The game itself is unique in its gameplay, you have to rescue at least one neighbor to reach the next level. The graphics are really good too. Though it you want a real scare, play its sequel Ghoul Patrol on the original SNES, a truly forgettable title.

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