Halloween is probably our favorite holiday. We worry about finding time to get into the spirit of Halloween the way other people do for the end-of-the-year holidays. For us, the right game is better than the right movie for getting us into the Halloween spirit and so there’s some titles we like to come back to this time of year. Here’s our list of the Best Games to Play on Halloween.
Bully (Chapter 1)
Bully is really one of the most underrated games out there and deserved a wider audience than it received. As Jimmy, you spend a year at a prestigious prep school attending class, running errands, experimenting with your sexuality, and defending the less fortunate from the real bullies on campus. The season changes on campus and the local town are fun to experience; at the end of Chapter 1, the school celebrates Halloween and decorations start appearing. On Halloween night, you complete a series of quests in a Karate Kid-style skeleton costume and see the whole campus in costume as well (evil Gary as an SS officer, Thad as “Super-Thad”). We spend a lot of time with our game characters, but we rarely get to spend a holiday with them; if you haven’t spent Halloween pranking greasers with Jimmy yet, you’ve been missing out.
Half-Life 2 (Ravenholm)
We know that we reference Half-Life 2 kind of a lot, but that’s just because it is probably the best game ever made. Gordon Freeman returns to a world dominated by the twin threats of the militaristic alien Combine and grotesque headcrabs. There’s a lot of great levels in the game, but the highlight for us is the trip to Ravenholm, a deserted city overrun by headcrabs and zombies. You’re forced to go there alone (after being told how dangerous it is) and survive the night in the city. Fortunately, you’ve just been given the gravity gun, and soon you learn that ever saw blade or red barrel you see can quickly become a dangerous projectile. Once you push past how scary it can be, the desolate city becomes a playground for exploring the game’s physics mechanics (and testing how many zombies a saw blade can cut through [EDITOR’S NOTE: it depends on the brand]). Few levels are as scary and then as fun as this one, making it the perfect level to play to get into the Halloween spirit.
Zombies Ate My Neighbors for the SNES
We have mentioned ZAMN before (and its less impressive sequel) as a great example of what fun coop can be in a game. In ZAMN, you and a buddy fight hordes of monsters taken from a wide variety of horror and sci-fi movies. Better still, you don’t attack them with a gun, instead you fight back with various household objects like water pistols, weed eaters, footballs, and rocket launchers [EDITOR’S NOTE: what household did you grow up in?]. There’s 40 levels taking place a lots of different settings (your neighborhood, a football stadium, the mall, a haunted house) so the game definitely does not end too quickly. In fact, as much as we love the game, the difficult gets pretty intense and so we only usually play until frustration sets in. It’s a classic and if you haven’t played it, you should.
Borderlands 2 (TK Baha’s Bloody Harvest)
Borderlands expansion packs are often really excellent (okay maybe not always); they allow you to take the characters you’ve spent so many hours developing and arming into novel and entertaining environments. Bloody Harvest is a fun example. In this expansion, you and your fellow vault hunters travel to a Halloween themed world (Hallowed Hollow) to fight the Pumpkin Kingpin and loot a lot of things. The thinly veiled references to it’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and Nightmare Before Christmas are fun to enjoy while blasting away at the local residents. The level is always fun, but it’s particularly enjoyable this time of year!
Left 4 Dead 2 (Hard Rain)
We usually wind up binging on zombie movies and TV shows this time of year but our favorite zombie story is probably the brief little adventure you have in L4D2’s fourth level, Hard Rain. You and your crew of survivors are traveling by boat up a river and run low on fuel. The four of you have to venture inland and fight your way through hordes of zombies against an increasing downpour that is slowly flooding the city. Once you obtain the fuel you retrace your steps through the now-flooded environment and wait for rescue. The quest has some terrifically exciting sections: the cornfield of witches you have to race through midway through the mission and the final battle in which you defend your rooftop from hordes of zombies while waiting for pickup are real show stoppers. We may watch Zombieland or 28 Days Later this holiday, but we’ll for sure play through Hard Rain.
Super Castlevania IV for the SNES (full game)
Super Castlevania IV was the perfect match of graphics and gameplay to game engine. It looks beautiful (still today), sounds amazing (even by today’s standards) and is easily our favorite entry into the entire Castlevania series. Simon is at his best in this game: he finally starts swinging by his whip (Indiana Jones style), he doesn’t fall off stairs if hit, and can even moonwalk. The fourth level, incorporating Mode 7 graphics, is a particular standout with its spinning walls and rotating rooms. The fun bosses (that weird bird with a spear [EDITOR’S NOTE: Slogra is my hero], the little golem that grows with each hit, the indifferent spectral dancers), the way the music creates a mood of foreboding, and the variety of levels (each beautiful) makes this game a great one to return to at this time of year. Halloween is a great time to play through this whole game again and remember how much fun Halloween was for you back in the days when the Super Nintendo was at the height of its power.