Do you like your games to give you indigestion? You know how the old saying goes: if you ever feel alone, watch a horror movie in the dark by yourself and you won’t feel so alone anymore. In that same vein, we present to you today the Super Nintendo equivalent: six creepy-as-crap games that’ll get you in the mood for the morbid.
#6: Super Valis IV
Published by Atlus, SV4 is a sidescroller with attitude. You play as an avenging angel, a Maiden hand-picked by the Goddess to cleanse the world of evil. And boy, is that evil ever-present. The first level lands you in a war-torn zone where skulls stalk backwards on tentacles and lustily leap at you. The very first boss: the Grim Reaper himself. If that ain’t scary, I don’t know what is.
SV4 has an interesting power-up system, and even a hard-mode for those who like torture. So what’s your excuse for not playing?
Creepometer: 6 skulls out of 10. The anime-styled graphics in the intro, the forgiving health system, and some of the later levels combine to make the game a little less spooky than it could have been.
#5: Zombies Ate My Neighbors
LucasArt’s B-movie homage has Zeke and Julie fighting off a host of monsters in up to 99 different levels. Their weapons: squirt guns, popsicles, weird liquids in beakers and the occasional bazooka. Their enemies: hungry zombies, giant ants, horny aliens, and chainsaw-wielding maniacs. Their goal: save as many survivors as possible. It doesn’t help that the survivors are braindead, or that the game itself stacks your failures on top of one another. (Every time a survivor gets eaten, one less survivor populates on the next level.) If all the survivors are killed, it’s Game Over.
Though graphically it’s kind of cartoony, Zombies Ate My Neighbors quickly amps up the terror with a limited health gauge and relentless waves of evil. Ever get stuck in a hedgemaze with four chainsaw-wielding, nigh-on-indestructible madmen? Do you want to be?
Creep-o-meter: 7 out of 10 skulls. You want scary? Try fighting an eighty-foot baby with only some silverware.
#4: Super Castlevania IV
Konami’s whip-slinging platformer has Simon Belmont returning once again to Castle Dracul. Clad in a leather skirt and sporting his bondage gear, this vampire killer has upgraded his ability to aim, allowing the player unlimited freedom in which direction to whip and idly move the handle. It’s every masochist’s greatest desire: WhipSimulator91!
Seriously, though, Simon has a horde of undead minions to slay on his way through town and countryside to dive into his old nemesis’ sky-crypt. Flying bats, giant skulls that spit macaroni noodles, and dancing spectres await you on your quest.
The soundtrack is killer, the enemies are awful, and the environment and art all has that creeptastic aesthetic one loves so much.
Creep-o-meter: 7 out of 10 skulls. The lack of difficulty on some of the later stages makes it more interesting than scary, and some of the changes in localization turn down the terror. Hey, it was the nineties after all.
#3: Super Ghouls and Ghosts
King Arthur’s beloved has been taken once again, and so he picks up his trusty lance, slips into his tinfoil plate armor and sets off after her. On his way he must face hordes of zombies, demons, magicians, werewolves, and more unsettlingly pointy plant things than he can wave a stick at.
Super Ghouls N’ Ghosts is the sequel to Capcom’s classic quarter-muncher, Ghosts and Goblins. The primary fear is not necessarily the gruesomeness of the graphics, however. Rather, it’s the overwhelming difficulty. Arthur can double jump, but it’s hardly flexible. Once he picks a direction, that’s it. The amount of times you’ll sail over the edge of a tricky jump is enough to scare anyone away. But really digging down and timing your jumps (and maybe watching a couple of Let’s Plays) will really help you stick the timing.
Creep-o-meter: 8 out of 10 skulls. There’s not usually a halfway marker in the stages, so most of the fear comes from the terror that you’ll have to redo a tricky part of the level again.
#2: Demon’s Crest
Demon’s Crest has you play as the annoyingly familiar dem-entity Firebrand, the antagonist of Arthur in the previous entry. Imprisoned in a cell, Firebrand must escape captivity and recover the titular Crests from Phalanx, another demon who presides over the realm.
The music is haunting, and Firebrand receives different transformations that give him access to different areas at different times. The enemies are terrifying, and the atmosphere oozes out of the screen and into your soul. Tangling with Demon’s Crest will certainly set your spirit to a certain spooky spectrum.
And don’t forget: there are even towns to explore, and other demons to talk to!
Creep-o-meter: 9 out of 10 skulls. Did you see that Dragon Zombie? Eeew.
#1: Castlevania: Dracula X
Richter Belmont, Simon’s ancestor, has undergone such tremendous genetic drift that his ability to aim has been replaced. Perhaps owing to repetitive wrist strain, this Castlevania regresses its gameplay and only allows Richter a front-facing strike akin to a sword, though to make up for it his subweapons are slightly better. The game is still hard as balls.
A little less creepy and a little more anime, Dracula X opens on a burning city with less-orchestral and creepy music and more power ballads and electric guitar. It’s a badly-done port of Rondo of Blood, a Japanese-only PC Engine/TurboGraphx-16 game, and it lacks most of the hefty bite its SNES predecessor possessed.
Creep-o-meter: 10 out of 10 skulls. Yeah, its soundtrack is glam rock instead of Hammer Studios level orchestral horror, but most of its terrifying enemies would go on to comprise the technically superior sequel, Symphony of the Night. Mostly it’s ten out of ten because it’s scary how badly they messed this game up in terms of approach.