Today, the multitude of horror or Halloween-themed video games on the market are so voluminous that to chronicle all of them would require an entire book, and, actually, there are quite a few of them.
But, these horror-themed home video games were not always popular. In fact, they were significantly suppressed.
The history of Halloween video games can trace its origins back to the 1970s when science-fiction-based arcade games such as Berserker, Space Invaders, and numerous horror and sci-fi genre-themed pinball machines were commonplace.
When the home arcade game debuted with Pong in 1976, most games were sports-related. Even when Odyssey and Ataru debuted their home video games, the bulk of the games were sports-related and/or sci-fi related.
There were war games, western games, and fantasy games, but no horror games. Perhaps the video game producers sought to avoid controversy. But, eventually, a company named Wizard decided to meet controversy head-on.
Wizard Video was a home video distributor that dealt with, to put it bluntly, total sleaze and junk. It seemed this company was a subsidiary of the now-defunct Vestron Video.
While Vestron was arguably the biggest VHS tape supplier on the market and distributor of numerous A-level studio projects, the Wizard imprint seemed to mine the low-budget trash from 1970s drive-in releases.
In 1983, Wizard decided to branch out into the home video market with now get this Atari 2600 version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre!
Considering the 1974 film made a recorded 30 million dollars it would seem logical that fans of the film would check out the video game.
(Recorded is put in quotes because the distributor, Bryanston Films, was a mob-owned company and the true box office gross will never be known)
The demented Atari Game saw the player assuming the role of LEATHERFACE and the object of the game was to chainsaw innocent victims!
As gruesome as this sounds, the graphics for the game were horrible even by Atari’s miserable standards.
And the game was downright silly, too. If your chainsaw ran out of gasoline, a victim would kick you in the butt! Really dumb.
The video game was a bomb. No self-respecting store would keep it in stock and even if you wanted a copy, finding one was pretty much impossible.
Wizard was not deterred and it released an Atari Game based on John Carpenters Halloween. The graphics were improved and the game a little bit more sophisticated, but stores didn’t want to carry it.
It bombed as well and Wizard got out of the home video game market. Actually, Wizard and Vestron would both be out of business entirely by the late 1980s.
Eventually, horror video games would get a niche as the horror games of the late 1980s/early 1990s emphasized action and adventure over grue.
This, of course, all went out the window in the 1990s as extreme violence became the order of the day.
Oh well, you can always get those Wizard games on eBay. For 300.