Monday, 10 October 2016

GAHAN WILSON'S ULTIMATE HAUNTED HOUSE


Gahan Wilson's The Ultimate Haunted House, released in 1994, is a surprisingly fun kid's game from the mind of a surprisingly adult cartoonist. Wilson's work, which often includes such macabre topics as murder, dismemberment and cannibalism, were featured in the likes of Playboy and The New Yorker. Let's see how this strange psyche can be translated for a younger audience...

The tone is set straight away, with a rather short rendition of Monster Mash playing over the intro. The dark mansion's lights turn on and cartooney looking creatures pop up from random places solely to gurn at the screen. Then the game begins in the hallway of an elaborate mansion. You don't know why your there but story isn't exactly the focus of this game. All we know is that we're in for a lighthearted take on the classic Halloween theme.

The aim is to find 13 keys within 13 hours so you can escape the dangerous dwellings. There's one in each room but the location is randomised on each playthrough. They could be dished out at various points, either by searching the house, or using one of the many items in the correct way. There's a huge number of items to find, ranging from a tedddy bear to a swiss army knife and can be stored in your ever-present carpet bag. You may even come across dead rats or a lump of snot. Each can be used in a multitude of ways sparking a fun animation in the process. For example, that teddy bear can be given to one of the house's residents or be used with that swiss army knife to see what's inside. This can only be done on the kitchen chopping board, so try it in several different things. The game incourages trial and error. If you think you've used one incorrectly, don't worry. Chances are that you'll find another one sooner or later - the most bountiful places being the attic and music room.

The look of the game is very unique and charming, though a far cry from the source material even if the artist himself drew them. Compare Frankenstein's creature...


Or Lady Dracula...


And those are the tame examples. If you want a few more of his cartoons, some of them can be viewed in the Gallery room, though they're not as detailed as his original artwork. The simplified, kiddified renditions do lose a lot of their macabre personality, but there's still a lot of Wilson's twisted sense of humour in the game. For example, Wilson himself appears as a character. His ghostly apparition appears every now and again to guide you through the adventure, or to occasionally berate and annoy you. If you get tired of him, you can squash him like a compacted used car in the Wreck Room.

You have to take caution when you do things like this as the house will get mad at you. You can tell how mad it is by looking at the flames of the fireplace or candle chandelier in the main hallway. The awakened monsters are represented here too by the ghosts in the picture frames. If the house is mad, puzzles will become more difficult. Tiles will move, your go will be automatic or your luck will be terrible. Piss it off too often and they'll become impossibly unfair.

Encounters with the monsters can change from pleasant to downright evil. They know when their abode is angry so will curse you at any opportunity they'll get. The Colour Curse will make the graphics go all funny, but more damaging is the Takeaway Curse. When bestowed with this, any item you attempt to pick up will instantly disappear. Thankfully you can tell if you have this curse as your cursor will change into a little skull, and it's not exactly permanent.

There are a few mini-games scattered around such as hang-man or tic-tac-toe. None of these are necessary to complete the game as the random items you win can all be found elsewhere. There's no way of knowing where the keys are, but in my experience they don't seem to be fixed in place before you play. Increasing the difficulty setting (found on the clock in the main hall along with other options) will decrease the frequency of the keys, as well as making the mansion far more irritable. If you find all 13 keys within 13 in-game hours, you win. Your reward is a screensaver, custom theme or video shorts. The two former prizes are useless for modern computers but the QuickTime videos can be viewed on any media player. They're mostly pixelated clips from old horror movies such as Jekyll and Hyde or Nosferatu with a couple I don't recognise (I need to check them out sometime). You can also view them in the Screening Room.

There's no denying Gahan Wilson's Ultimate Haunted House is designed for kids first and foremost, but his macabre sense of humour still permeates making it hard to recommend for the very young. As an adult I had a lot of fun playing through the game. It's simple, well put together and exudes a dark sense of humour I love. In my opinion, it's well worth a play.


To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses DOSBox running Microsoft Windows 3.1 to get the game working on modern systems. Manual included. Tested on Windows 10.
  12.10.2020 - Ver.2 - Edited CD to fix Quicktime playback error. Videos now play
                                      Updated DOSBox to 0.74.3
                                      Now launches with DPI settings applied
 
File Size: 274 Mb.  Install Size: 457 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ

Download


Gahan Wilson's The Ultimate Haunted House is © Brooklynh Multimedia & MicroSoft Corporation
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me

Like this? Try These...

Disney's Animated Storybook - The Hunchback of Notre Dame  Clandestiny  Blinky's Scary Games

17 comments:

  1. Thank you for the detailed post and the download!
    I tried to install but it gets stuck at 74% and then says that CD\UHH.bin is corrupt/missing. How can I fix this?

    Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Make sure both downloaded files are in the same folder before you install. The error you're getting is probably due to the fact that it can't find the other part.

      http://collectionchamber.blogspot.co.uk/p/faq.html

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    2. I don't agree with your comparisons with his "original" artwork. The graphics of the game should be compared to his work on The Sunday Comics rather than his work in Playboy where the graphics style differed somewhat. With that said, the cartoons in the gallery are actually excerpts from the Sunday Comics, thus are his original works: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/S/cmx-images-prod/Item/304805/304805._SX1280_QL80_TTD_.jpg

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    3. Those do look more in keeping with the game. In all fairness, I'd not heard of Wilson outside of this game. Perhaps he's more known in the US. My research - which wasn't extensive (this is about games after all) - only found the more detailed images. From what I can gather, they're more his 70s cartoons than his simpler 90s work.

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  2. Do you know if you need a specific version of dosbox / quicktime to work the movies in the theater within the game?

    I tried playing this online at another website and it wouldn't play the QT videos as it mentioned the version was wrong.

    Mostly curious if anyone has played this yet and been able to view the theater room's quicktime videos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's been a while since I played it but I'm pretty sure it ran without any problems. I generally install all the programs contained within the original disk so each game's emulated Windows environment is specific to that game. Have you tried my version yet?

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    2. Going to try tomorrow! Thanks for following up.

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  3. Hey Biffman I gave it a go sadly it looks like the error is present in it. Here is a screenshot if you have any ideas. I didn't see a quicktime installer with the program.

    Here is the message I get:

    https://imgur.com/xC2H89y

    Maybe there is something I am missing as it looks like when I run it I see windows 3.1 in the background for a split second but I am not very familiar with dosbox and how to get into windows out of the game.

    ReplyDelete
  4. https://classicreload.com/win3x-gahan-wilsons-the-ultimate-haunted-house.html

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Biffman. I have the exact same problem as Robert W. Polzin. It actually crashes the game. Any suggestions ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've not been able to replicate this crash so I'm at a loss. The only thing I can think of is running it in a Windows 95 environment instead of 3.1. It might run better that way, but I'll have to re-create the package from scratch.

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  6. Just to clarify, I'm the person who just posted about the game crashing in the movie room. My mistake, it does not crash the game. The room goes dark to play the movies but nothing comes on the screen. I mistook the room going dark as a freeze-up and thought it crashed. But it didn't. It just does not play any movies on the tv or on the projector screen. Again, No crash. Sorry about that Biffman.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's OK. I'm still looking into it. Might have to Win'95 when I get to an update.

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  7. This game now works on OTVDM/wineVDM natively on 64-bit Windows. :)) Complete with DPI scaling on modern Windows.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not sure what this means but it was working up until a few weeks ago. Now it no longer works.

      Delete
  8. Thanks Biffman,

    The Movie room all works great now. Excellent work !

    I'm not sure what "Unknown" above me means about it not working BUT he might be talking about the installer. When I first tried to install this updated version it would just hang and not respond. The only way I found to install the game was to reboot the pc into "safe mode" to install. The game itself runs fine on a normal boot, just seems to be a problem with the installer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Had to do some manipulating of the ISO itself to get it working.

      If the installer seems to hang, it's usually because it's unpacking a large file such as the ISO. It's a Clickteam Install Creater Pro quirk from what I understand. More info in the FAQ.

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