Horror Zombies form the Crypt was developed for the European market for the Amiga, Atari ST and PC in 1990. It's been heavily inspired by the 1950's B-grade horror movies that were popular in the 50s and 60s. Does it deserve to be released from the Collection Chamber? Let's take a look and find out.
At first glance, it would seem like a fairly standard platformer. The graphics do convey a sense of horror that is reminiscent of the early Castlevania games, yet the clunky animation does stick out like a sore thumb. It is a game that suffers from what I'd like to call the Apogee syndrome - a platform game that may be competent but lacks a structure or cohesion that it's console counterparts tended to excel at.
Case in point: Super Mario Bros. for the NES teaches you everything you need to know in the first few seconds. The single goomba tells you that you need to jump in order to bypass him, which will draw your jump to the question-mark block above you. A mushroom appears which then becomes hard to not collect as it bounces back from a pipe. A masterclass in game design. Horror Zombies from the Crypt, on the other hand, requires you to take some bizarre leaps of logic, especially in the trap-filled first stage (of a total of six).
You begin each stage helpless until you find your weapon. The first stage attempts to use the Mario-esque learning curve by placing a knife above a fireplace, with a zombie shuffling in front of it. Wait for it to pass and you have access to the weapon. Simple. Later levels, though, require you to travel great distances completely helpless to track down the weapon. This is a lesson in frustration, not enjoyable game design.
The game-play promotes trial and error. Something that was once safe to do (such as walk in front of a wall or jumping) is no longer. The game trolls you by punishing exploration and experimentation while absolutely requiring it at the same time. Any mistake or ill-advised attempt to grab a power up will not just lose you a life, but something far more graphic. Your head explodes. Literally. You will see this animation copious times during the course of the game.
So why does this game deserve a second lease at life? Well, the DOS port doesn't really. While essentially the same game, it suffers graphically and the hit detection is so large it breaks the whole experience. Think you can make that jump over the headless, overly-pert banshee? Trust me, you can't.
The Amiga version fares much better. The controls are tighter, the graphics more vibrant and, once you know what to do, it is completable. It's a game that scratches that nostalgic itch for early Amiga platforming that I never knew I had. It's not a particularly long game so take the plunge and have a go and let me know if I'm wrong.
To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses DOSBox to bring the PC version to modern systems and FS-UAE to emulate the Amiga version. Keyboard controls for the Amiga version are mapped to my preferred optimal specifications. Manual included. Tested on Windows 7.
12.03.2015 - Version 2 - Fixed installer
01.07.2015 - Version 3 - Improved installer
File Size: 16 Mb. Install Size: 30 Mb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
Horror Zombies from the Crypt is © Astral
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me