Sunday, 18 January 2015

Bogey Manor (Arcade)

The creators of Bogey Manor seems to have a fair few non-videogame influences in their repetoire, both in the general aesthetic, and even in the mechanics. Firstly, it was released in 1984, a year after Ghostbusters so it doesn't seem too out there to suggest that a comedic game about a guy who uses technology to fight ghosts might have been trying to ride that movie's wave of popularity (though, as barely anyone has heard of it, the tactic doesn't seem to have worked, unfortunately). The other influences all tie into the game's mechanics in some way (and some more than others).

But before I get onto them, I should really explain the game itself, shouldn't I? In it, some guy named Fritz goes to a series of ramshackle old mansions to, I guess exorcise them by destroying all the crystal balls therein. Each house is also infested with various kinds of monsters: ghosts, frankenstein's monsters, witches, and so on. Each house is divided into four screens, and each screen has four floors on it, with stairs and doorways being the way to get between floors. Most of the time, the player can only see the floor they are on, though there is an item that appears in each stage that illuminates every floor. After each orb in a house is smashed, the house starts to collapse from the top down, and the player has to rush to the exit. Failing to get to the exit before the house completely collapses results in death, obviously, but it also gives the player a different death screen than the usual, which is a nice touch.

Outside of the likely Ghostbusters cash-in attempt, the biggest influence on the game is probably Scooby Doo: the game takes place in a series of run-down old haunted houses, and the player's main method of attack is a nice little foray into silly slapstick comedy: to defeat most enemies, the player has to press one button to distract the monster by pointing at the floor or ceiling, and then press the attack button to clobber them over the head with their stick/lightsabre/thing. Most of the monsters don't stay down for long, and the fact that even ghosts can be beaten in this manner suggests that maybe, like most Scooby Doo monsters, they're just crooks in disguise?

The last, and least expected influence is Kamen Rider, or maybe just tokusatsu shows in general. I mentioned before the doors that can be entered to quickly travel from floor to floor, and on each stage, one of those doors (which i think is randomly selected each time, though I'm not certain) will be flashing, and upon entering the flashing door, the player is treated to a short transformation sequence, and for a short time become Super Fritz, who can beat up enemies without distracting them, and who moves slightly faster than regular Fritz, too. In an unusual move, however, the game actually penalises players who use Super Fritz's power, as there's a ten thousand point bonus at the end of each stage for not doing so.

Bogey Manor is a game I definitely recommend. It's fairly unique, and once you get used to it's little ideosnycrasies, it's a lot of fun to play.

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