Sunday 12 July 2015

Chiller (NES review)

Developer: Exidy
Publisher: American Game Cartridges
Released: 1990

Chiller is an unlicensed horror game that was first released in the Arcades in 1986 and uses the NES Zapper to control.

There's four levels and your goal is locate 32 hidden talisman to complete the game. These are shown in a tile graphic at the start of each level and the images give you a clue as to their whereabouts. If you haven't found all the talisman by the end of the fourth level the game loops and continues in a harder difficulty although you do keep all your current items. On top of this you have to torture the unfortunate souls on screen to decrease the Monster Metre to zero and move onto the next level. A red timer constantly counts down and if you don't shoot enough things the clock will run out and it's Game Over. You can obviously just fire directly onto the people but this is the slowest way to progress; instead you'll want to activate the torture devices such as guillotines and head crushers so they do most of the work for you. The constant battle between racking up as much damage as possible to pass the level and exploring to find the hidden talisman is an interesting mechanic but it quickly gets old. The gameplay is incredibly dull and once you've got past the initial shock factor there's very little of note. Using the light gun is unresponsive and inaccurate due to poor programming and the excessive screen flicker is very offputting. At least it makes the location of the talisman easier to find as they stay solid white while the screen jumps! You can use a normal controller if you want but dragging the cursor around is slow and makes the game much harder. The only music in the game consists of eight notes repeated in a truly awful melody!

Chiller is confusing as (without looking into it too deeply) it's either a horrific game made by psychopaths or something that's supposed to make us question our morality. Either way it doesn't make for an enjoyable experience and even if you just focus on the gameplay elements it's a poorly developed title with few redeeming features.

Random trivia: The order of levels in the NES version is reversed compared to the Arcade original. My guess is that they wanted to leave the most shocking ones until the end!

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