10 horror games from the 80s that are always scary

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There is endless innovation that accompanies the medium of video games and it feels like every year there is a more substantial leap forward with what can be accomplished. One of the genres of video games that has seen significant growth in recent decades is the game survival horror niche. It was once one of the more marginal video game genres, but advancements in technology and improved graphics, along with enemy AI, have allowed horror games to become considerably more spooky and immersive.

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A lot of modern horror games are truly terrifying, but that doesn’t mean past efforts in the genre are without merit. Retro video games from the 1980s are much simpler than the current titles, but there are still some that have bite.


ten Sweet Home from 1989 helped establish the basic staples of the genre

Screenshot of the video game Sweet Home

Sweet home is an obscure 1989 title for the original Nintendo Entertainment System that never received a localized release outside of Japan, but its influence on the genre remains untold. Capcom’s game combines elements of horror and RPG as a team of five documentary filmmakers travel to a spooky house where they are plagued by the spirits of dead and morbid monsters. It has been repeatedly quoted that Sweet home was a major influence on resident Evil, that is felt here. Clever puzzles, punitive and permanent group deaths, and evocative visuals all make Sweet home a winner.

9 Personal Nightmare is a satanic mystery ahead of its time of 1989

Personal Nightmare 1989 Corpse Video Games

The Amiga is often overlooked as a footnote in gaming history, but the 1989s Personal nightmare is a great horror release that is several years ahead of the wave of spooky point-and-click adventure games that took to PCs in the 1990s. Personal nightmare gives players four days to exorcise the devil and his possessed minions from a seemingly ordinary city. Personal Nightmare ambitiously uses a day / night system and punishes expectations for what needs to be observed. The plot is strong, but it is Personal nightmare horribly detailed art and efficient sound design that makes it a classic.

8 1988 Splatterhouse plunges action platforms into the depths of horror

Splatterhouse Chainsaw Enemy Video Games

Namco Splash The series may have first hit arcades in the late 1980s, but it grew into a video game franchise with surprisingly long legs, and the most recent entry for the series came out in 2010.

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The Splash The games are technically action platformers, but they’re so steeped in ’80s horror flicks. The protagonist, Rick Taylor, is decked out to look like Jason Voorhees and each level features tons of twisted creatures, abominations of bodily horror, and extreme violence. The gameplay and aesthetics of the title still hold water.

7 Uninvited from 1986 fills an endless maze of morbid monsters

Uninvited 1986 Skull Face Video Games

Without invitation is a 1986 title where a lost person must fight their way through a disturbing maze and find their brother. It’s a simple story, but one that reflects the Fantasy star-like the first-person approaches to mazes at the time. Without invitation received an NES port, which made it one of the few first-person horror console experiences. Many of the basics of Without invitation are still in use today and the first person perspective makes the most of spooky enemies that are suddenly in the player’s face and too close for comfort.

6 1984 Alien creates enormous tension with its limited resources

Alien 1984 HUB Video Games

Extraterrestrial is one of the most revered horror films of all time and it has led to dozens of video games that have attempted to recapture the film’s claustrophobic terror. 1984 Extraterrestrial cannot compare to 2014 Alien: Isolation, but it’s really impressive how sophisticated the gameplay and characters are in this 80s game. Players constantly have to avoid becoming the Xenomorph’s next victim, but characters will ignore orders and rebel if they are too frightened or if the right circumstances are not met. It creates fear for lack of control.

5 Soft & Cuddly is a bold and bright trippy horror for the ZX Specter from 1987

Soft and cuddly video games monster face title screen

Sweet & Hug is a 1987 ZX Spectrum title that intentionally wants to provoke its audience. It’s an extremely weird experience that combines elements of platforming and shooting, but it’s the neon visuals and aggressive presentation style of the game that make the biggest impression.

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There is a spooky plot that involves collecting limbs, but Soft and cuddly grandiose and vibrant environments are what will quickly enter the skin of the public. This is a good example of the importance of atmosphere in a video game. Sweet & Hug just feels bad and like he can rebel against the player at any time.

4 Maniac Mansion brings real-time terror to the public in 1987

Maniac Mansion Mummy Video Game

Manic mansion is one of the first noteworthy titles from LucasArts, a studio that will become one of the biggest names in point-and-click adventure titles for the next decade. Manic mansion takes a look at the horror genre with a wide range of characters, many of which can become consumable if the player is not careful. Manic mansion is infinitely weird and unafraid of his dark humor, but there are constantly wandering obstacles that need to be dealt with. It’s a very deep style of play where a lot of things need to be handled simultaneously, which naturally increases the tension throughout it all.

3 1983 Atari 2600 Texas Chainsaw Massacre Lets Player Control Maniac

Texas Chainsaw Massacre Video Game

It goes without saying that the graphical fidelity of any Atari 2600 game will leave a lot to the imagination and will not frighten audiences like modern graphics do. the years 1983 Chainsaw Massacre video game is very simplistic, but it manages to be a weirdly effective adaptation of Tobe Hooper’s disturbing horror film. The biggest selling point of this game is that the player controls Leatherface, not an innocent victim. It was revolutionary at the time and forces the player to earn points and success through creeping pixelated bloodshed.

2 1989 Monster Party for the NES elegantly brings classic movie monsters to life

Monster Party Jack-O-Lantern Boss Video Games

Monster party is a NES platform game based on pretty obscure monsters from 1989 that flew under the radar. There is such a clear love for the horror genre here and the game’s bosses feature traditional creatures like mummies, zombies, Medusa, the Grim Reaper, and even a dragon. Mark’s elimination of monsters from the Dark World is a lot of fun, but there are some really impressive graphics for the time. Monster party really shows off each of his monsters and makes them intimidating. It’s the same kind of anxiety that accompanies a giant boss in the Castlevania series.

1 The 1986 cooler was banned from arcades and the target of controversy

Some horror video games can engage with incendiary ideas and visuals, but have a justified reason to explore this dark territory. There are other games that want to purely exploit and provoke, this is what applies to the years 1986 Cooler. Cooler is a arcade game that has not been considered for console ports because it has been the subject of such controversy and in fact banned from arcade. The game may have rudimentary graphics, but it portrays graphical dungeons and twisted objectives for the player to move forward. It looks like a lost game created by a serial killer.

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