|Platform(s)||Atari 2600, VIC-20|
Ghost Manor is a horror video game that was released by Xonox in 1983 for the Atari 2600 and VIC-20. It was generally packaged in a double ended cartridge and a cassette tape along with one of three other games in an effort to appeal to budget conscious buyers who would purchase two games for the price of one cartridge and one cassette tape. There was also a more limited release of single ended cartridges and cassette tapes containing Ghost Manor by itself. The double ended cartridges and cassette tapes paired Ghost Manor with the platform game Spike's Peak, the fighting game Chuck Norris Superkicks, and a strategy game called Artillery Duel.
There are two options available to play as, the Girl or the Boy. The Girl is playable on both the 2600 and the 7800. If playing as the Girl character, the goal of the game is to rescue the helpless boy from Ghost Manor. To play as the Girl, set the 2600's TV Type switch to "Color". The Boy is playable on the 2600 only. If playing as the Boy, the goal of the game is to rescue the girl from Ghost Manor. To play as the Boy, set the 2600's TV Type Switch to "B/W" to play as the Boy. Atari 7800 users will not be able to play as the Boy, since the 7800 does not have a TV Type switch.
Neutral characters include Bones, an invincible skeleton in the graveyard, and Rainbow Ghost, a ghost who is otherwise identical to Bones.
The enemies present in Ghost Manor are the Spooks, the Chopping Mummy, and Dracula.S pooks are any of the eight beings flying around the Gate. They consist of two green scorpions, two white skulls, three black bats, and the black knight. In order to be defeated, they have to be attacked by Spears. The Chopping Mummy is the leader of the Spooks at the Gate and is found in the second stage of the game. He will try to stop the Boy or Girl from entering Ghost Manor. The Chopping Mummy is invincible until all of the Spooks are defeated. Contact with the Chopping Mummy's blade ends the game instantly. Once making it to the final stage, Dracula is met as the sinister being who guards the Prison (and the player's friend). He is vulnerable only to the Crosses found in the game. Contact with Dracula is lethal to the player character.
The game consists of five stages:
In Stage 1 (the Graveyard) the player must guide their character around and touch Bones or the Rainbow Ghost a set number of times. In order for the contact to count, the contact must be made on a gravestone and while the player is moving. Each contact that meets these criteria awards the player a single Spear. The number of Spears that can be awarded depends on the difficulty setting of the game.
In Stage 2 (the Gate), the player must use the Spears to shoot down Spooks. When all seven Spooks are shot down, the player must use one final spear to shoot the Chopping Mummy. During this time, the Chopping Mummy will chop at the player in an attempt to touch the character with his blade and end the game. The Chopping Mummy does chop to a rhythm. Learning this rhythm enables players to avoid the Mummy's blade entirely with some practice. It is possible to run out of Spears. If that happens, the player cannot defeat any more Spooks or the Chopping Mummy, and the game will run until either the Chopping Mummy's blade comes in contact with the character or the player resets their console.
Stages 3 and 4 are nearly identical, but change the layouts and colors change. The player must move their character to the staircase in Stage 3, and then from one staircase to the other in Stage 4. Touching any of the stationary walls may stun the character. The character can press up against the trailing side of the moving walls to earn extra points, however, touching the leading side of a moving wall will end the game. Players may search the coffins in these stages by touching them from the correct side. A tone is played for each successful search. One coffin in each stage contains a Cross, which is used to repel Dracula in the final stage of the game. If the character has a Lamp, the playfield will be illuminated the entire time the character is in either stage 3 or 4. If the character does not have a Lamp, the playfield will only be illuminated for brief periods when lightning strikes near Ghost Manor.
Stage 5 (the Prison), is where the final battle takes placeplayers must guide their character underneath Dracula and press the red button on their Joystick to force Dracula upward into one of the cells at the top of the screen. Players cannot force Dracula to move any direction other than up, however when Dracula is not being repelled he will follow the character left or right. To successfully restrain Dracula, players must use their character to bait him into moving underneath a cell, then press the button to force him upward into that cell. Repelling Dracula requires the character to have at least one Cross. Each Cross only lasts a few seconds, so players must keep the battle as short as possible. As soon as Dracula is restrained in either cell, the character's friend is released and will follow the character to the stairwell. Once both the character and their friend reach the stairwell, the player wins the game.
When the game is over, the Boy and Girl are both displayed in the Graveyard holding hands. If the rescue was not successful, both characters will sink into the ground along with the tombstones and Ghost Manor itself. The tune "Taps" plays during this ending. If the rescue was successful, the characters will remain standing in the Graveyard while everything else sinks. A "happy melody" plays for this ending. After a few minutes the game will restart automatically unless the power is turned off.
Most of the items in Ghost Manor help the character out, but one will end the game.
Although winning or losing Ghost Manor depends on rescuing the character's friend, the game does keep score.
Difficulty settings in Ghost Manor affect how fast enemy characters move and whether or not the Lamp is available for use. At higher difficulties, fewer spears are awarded by Bones and/or the Rainbow Ghost. Each difficulty level is set as follows:
Note that on Sears Tele Games consoles that the Difficulty Switches are called "Skill" switches. Expert is the same as the A position, and Novice is the same as B position. Further, on the Atari 7800, the difficulty switches are located on the front of the console between the controller ports. Slide the switch to the left for B position and to the right for A position.
Unlike most games of its time, the game employs unconnected random sound effects at different volume levels for ambience. There are 4 sound effects played: a bird, an owl, a creaking door, and lightning strikes. Furthermore, depending on which stage you are on, some sounds may be louder and others may be quieter. In the graveyard, sounds of the owl and lightning are the only infrequently heard sounds. Outside of the mansion, the (particularly active) owl, bird, and lightning can all be heard. Inside the mansion, on the ground floor all sound effects can be heard. On the second floor the bird is a little muted, and on the roof the bird is louder and the creaking door is slowed and muted.
Ghost Manor was originally intended to be released for the Atari 2600, ColecoVision, the VIC-20 and the Commodore 64, and licensed to third party software companies for release on other systems. The final releases, however, were only for the Atari 2600 and the VIC-20.