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Ghost Manor

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Released: 1992

Genre: Platformer

Format reviewed: PC Eng/Turbografx-16

Publisher: Turbo Tech

Developer: Icom

Submitted by: Lee Tatlock

I have a deep seated love of anything spooky especially if it is kitsch and plastic like a ghost train or a plastic light up skull or something. I always preferred Halloween to any other celebration and still hold massive Halloween parties to this day. I have often pondered this love of the otherworldly; my shelves are stuffed with horror films, my shelves in my office adored with spooky games and Halloween knick-knacks (much to the disappointment of my wife) and my graphic design work reflects this cartoon creepy to the maximum – the only place it’s doesn’t show through is in my dress sense, I never was one for the crow jacket and angst. Anyway whatever the cause of this obsession I thought ‘Ey up! Ghost Manor, this sound like just the job for me,’ so on it went and off I went.

First thing that struck me in the peepers was the rather snazzy graphics on display, full on spooky kookiness. The main character looks like a bit of freak with his gigantic cranium and A brand t-shirt but never mind. Sprites are big and bold and it shows that whatever team was responsible for the graphics where passionate about their creation. Sadly though that is where the goodness ends, from the graphics on out it goes downhill – quite literally. Trying to get to the top of the first few stages (after grabbing the keys) can at first be a total pain in the keester as 90% of the platforms are set up in a sort of snakes and ladders format.  You climb for an age only to jump onto the wrong platform and next thing you’re sliding all the way back to the beginning of the level. This is infuriating to say the least until you work out that in the first level you can ride a ghoul all the way back to the top. The second level is a bit more difficult but you can make it with the aid of some armour plated patience and some big green claws that go up and down a waterfall. The third level, inside the titular Ghost Manor, has none of the slip n’ slide agro of its predecessors but has its own ways of annoying you that comes in the form of running out of power ups and having no choice but to get killed to go back and chance it all over again. This is pretty much the tune that Ghost Manor plays to, every level seems to have bloody great flaws and as such it makes for an infuriating experience that could have been so easily remedied with a bit of tweaking and more thought and planning from whoever was responsible for everything but the graphics.

Tunes are nice and creepy and I have to give respect to the maestros as I did the sprite masters but the rest of the show is a poor one. You can play it through to its skull riding finale (not that the ending’s worth it) with plenty of fortitude but it will constantly let you down time and again, and despite some tasty elements Ghost Manor was nothing but a wasted journey for me and a wasted opportunity for the developers. Shame.

P.S. This is nothing to do with Ghost Manor on the Atari 2600!