Friday 21 December 2018

Haunting Starring Polterguy (Sega Mega Drive / Genesis review)

Developer: Electronic Arts
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Released: 1993

Haunting Starring Polterguy is a comedy-horror game that was later included on the EA Replay collection (2006, Sony PSP).

You play as a ghost named Polterguy who's out for revenge on Vito Sardini for building cheap skateboards that led to your unfortunate demise. The objective is to scare Vito and his family out of their four homes by possessing household items until they're spooked enough to leave. Occasionally, Ectoplasm will drop and it's crucial to keep your metre topped up, otherwise you'll be sent to the Dungeon where you must collect all of the goo to re-enter the house; spells can also be obtained here to refill your metre, or provide you with super scare powers like throwable fireballs. The sheer amount of scare animations is impressive and they never fail to keep you entertained or laughing hysterically at their outlandishness. Standouts include knives that launch out of a dishwasher, and a shark that appears from a fish tank! You can even control some objects after they've been triggered, such as the awesome severed hand that flies around the garage! This gives the game a huge amount of replayability and you'll definitely want to see every scare it has to offer. However, while it's always enjoyable, the formula does grow a little tired in the second half due to the lack of variety or surprises to switch things up. The isometric view also means that Ectoplasm is frequently obscured by other objects and you'll be guessing its whereabouts far too often. The Dungeon is easily the weakest part, as the controls are slippery and it can feel as if you're skating on ice. On top of this, the collision detection is slightly off, and in my opinion this whole area seems tacked-on to pad out the gameplay length.

Haunting Starring Polterguy deserves a lot of credit for originality and EA did a great job creating a memorable game that's genuinely fun to play. It does get a bit repetitive by the third or fourth home, but thankfully the scares go a long way to minimising any tedium while keeping you invested in terrorising the poor Sardini family!

Random trivia: EA released many big hitters on the Mega Drive / Genesis in 1993, including FIFA International Soccer, and Jungle Strike: The Sequel to Desert Strike.

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