This article originally appeared in Pyramid #7
CREEPY CASTLEProduced by Reactor
Written by Bill Appleton
Retail Cost: $49.95
Why isn't Pyramid done? No, I'm feeling okay. No, really, everything's fine. It's just . . . well, there's this game. It's in my head, and for the life of me I can't get it out. It haunts my days, my nights; I don't know what I'd do without it. [Editor's note: Maybe get some work done!] I know, I've liked games in the past, but this is different. I know I've said this before, but now I mean it. This time it's for real.
Creepy Castle is an arcade-like game, based around the premise of a Tough Guy wandering and fighting first through the woods, then a graveyard, a castle and a dungeon, searching for an innocent village girl who has been kidnapped by the nefarious Dr. Whatever. It's only for the Macintosh, it's in black and white, it uses a small screen and has no obvious way to cheat. What's so neat about it, then?
Well, first of all, this little game uses black and white much better than most others use color. The images are very clear and sharply defined, making it easy to pick out the tiniest icon against the gray textured background. Secondly, without color, the game runs blazingly fast on even the slowest machine. Luckily, it runs just fine on my PowerBook, but not when it was on batteries. That's a drawback -- this game, like many others, circumvents some basic operating system events, so laptops will think they're not being used and after a while simply go to sleep. [Ed: This is the only reason we got any work out of him at all these past few months.]
The games are quick, both in terms of pace and length. As you progress from one "scene" to another (woods, graveyard, castle and dungeon, in order) there is no provision for getting "more men;" you're limited to three lives.
Each level has three basic obstacles: the Monster, the Flying Thing, and the Boss. The Monster is a big, bad ugly creature, almost your equal in strength, that will appear several times on your way to the end of that scene. The Flying Thing hovers around the top of the screen, carrying artifacts that can help you; kill the Flying Thing, and you can gain a Talisman, which is the Creepy Castle equivalent to a smart bomb -- it kills everything on the screen. The Boss is the final test; at the end of each level, a giant monster appears, which you then have to either drive away or destroy before moving on to the next scene.
In addition, the different scenes have several types of items to make your life easier: Food, to restore your health; a Contact Weapon, to help you in your hand-to-hand fights with the enemy; a Ranged Weapon, to keep you out of hand-to-hand fights with the enemy; a Talisman, explained earlier; and an Artifact, typically useful against the Boss, at the end of the scene.
Lastly, by killing any of the Monsters of a scene in a particular way, you will gain some special power; to defeat the mad scientist at the end, you must have all three special powers (strength, accuracy, and agility), so if you start in the middle of the game, you won't be able to truly complete the adventure.
In the forest, the Monster is a werewolf, in both full-wolf and wolfman forms. The Flying Thing is a raven, who drops wolfsbane (the Talisman) and silver bullets (the Artifact), useful against the Boss. The Contact Weapon is an axe, and you also get rocks to use as Ranged Weapons. The character animation is particularly wonderful when you lob fist-sized rocks over your head at the oncoming hordes of evil. This level's Boss is a giant werewolf, who unhappily disintegrates into dust if you can get a silver bullet down his gullet.
Hint: Destroy a werewolf by kicking it to gain its special power.
This scene is littered with bones, some moving and some not. Ghouls with shovels and knives are the Monsters who chase you. Lucky for you, someone dropped their precious knife collection when they passed through here last, giving you some easy way to arm yourself. The Flying Thing, a buzzard, drops vials of holy water -- the Talisman of the scene.
This level also introduces a new class of monster, which also appears in the Dungeon, the Very Annoying Things -- spiders, in this scene, dropping on you from the trees. The Boss is a giant, crowned skeleton, who chucks femurs in your general direction.
Hint: Destroy a knife-wielding ghoul by throwing a knife at it to gain its special power.
The Flying Things in this scene are also the Very Annoying Things -- bats -- though the bats' squeak is one of my favorite sounds in the game. They glide along the ceiling, divebombing you as you try to make your way down the corridor, occasionally turning into vampires (the Monster of this scene) to the last door on that level. This then takes you up to the top of the castle, then back down to a final confrontation with the Boss of that level, a giant vampire. Collect those stakes someone liberally scattered throughout the castle, and lob them when the need arises.
Hint: Destroy a vampire with your bare hands to gain its special power.
There are no Flying Things in the dungeon scene, so they made do with two Monsters -- the stereotypical Frankenstein's Monster, and his classic Bride, both of whom are somewhat lacking in the skills of hospitality, alternately picking you up by the neck and shaking your teeth out, or zapping you from long range with nasty lightning bolts.
After battling your way through the first three scenes, the dungeon will seem surprisingly short (especially after cleaning out the castle!) but still quite dangerous enough. Once you finally get to the Boss, the mad scientist whose menagerie you just depopulated, you'll have a chance to defeat him. If you manage to beat him, but you didn't gain the special powers from the three previous levels, you can't completely finish the game -- next time, start at the beginning.
I have so much fun when I'm playing Creepy Castle, the dull glow from the LCD screen rippling across my face. I think it's serious. Everything's moving so fast -- should I introduce it to my parents? No, it's too soon. I need to play it some more; I think I still have a few things to work out. [Ed: That's not the half of it.]
-- Derek Pearcy
Article publication date: June 1, 1994
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