Easily the most famous Atari 2600 game based on an 1980s movie happens to be E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, maligned as arguably the most regrettable rush job in the history of the genre. And considering how, even to this very day, the quality of licensed games can be hit-or-miss prospects for players, the debacle of E.T. might lead the uninitiated general population to assume every Atari game based on a movie is a sad, antiquated waste of time.
But if you follow that logic, you’d be sorely missing out.
Bloody Disgusting recently churned out a roundup of horror-based Atari games, and most of them look pretty shitty. The two major exceptions include 1985’s Ghostbusters — in which the developers had the time and budget to craft something that would’ve looked current on an early ’90s console — and ’83’s Halloween.
I praise Atari’s Halloween for two reasons. Firstly, an 8-bit version of the forever-trenchant theme song plays whenever a pixelated, knife-wielding Michael Myers pops onscreen during the otherwise silent goings-on. Secondly, this game is more violent than the movie, which is quite a feat for usually family-friendly video game fare of the era.
In John Carpenter’s 1978 trendsetter, Myers never lays a hand on the little kids in the care of their babysitter and the film’s final girl, Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie. In this game, Myers gets stabby and reduces the children to lifeless, blood-spurting mounds of blue, green, and yellow squares. Myers also cuts Laurie’s head off whenever he catches up to her, at which points her decapitated corpse dashes across the screen in the manner of a chicken whose body has yet to realize that it is no longer guided by a brain.
Halloween is a really messed up old video game! Although it’s relatively tame compared to the Cannibal Holocaust Atari game that, fortuitously, only exists in my nightmares.