Horror is one of my favorite genres. While I associate horror games with the PS1, several creepy games have been on the 8 and 16-bit consoles. I don’t think these are scary, but they have a horror theme and atmosphere.
I was a little surprised when I went through all of my Genesis games. Predator 2 was way better than I expected, and this version of Alien 3 was better than I expected from LJN. The others were essentially what I was expecting them to be.
There are some games on this list that I don’t personally like, but I think they should be here because they are great games. Anyway, let’s check out what the Genesis offers for horror games!
Bottom Line up Front: Here are 10 Games on the Sega Genesis for Halloween.
Let’s talk about what qualifies for this list. I’m not just going to be putting any random game on this list. Here are the criteria I used to compile this list:
- North American release for the Genesis
- No homebrews
- Has to be in my collection
The Haunting: Staring Polterguy
Review Score: 8/10 (My Score)
This is one of the unique games that EA used to publish when they cared. It is an isometric adventure game where you try to scare a family out of a series of houses. It is a challenging, spooky, and hilarious game!
In the game, you move around a house trying to save a family to the point that they flee the home. There is a backstory about how the father made a defective skateboard, and your character is trying to get revenge. The story isn’t all that important, but it is fun that it is there.
There are spots on the map where you can activate some traps to scare the family. There are proximity traps and active traps that you can control. The Haunting is an enjoyable game with more comedic scares than horrific ones.
I wish I had known about this game when I was a kid. It would’ve been awesome if my friends and I had rented it, but it either wasn’t in any of the rental stores near us or no one I knew had heard of the game. The Haunting is a great game that I would love a modern remake of.
Developer: Now Production
Genre: Beat’em up
Review Score: 9/10 (Game Informer)
Splatterhouse is one of the many games that got me excited about the Sega Genesis. A friend of mine rented this game, and I was amazed by how different it was from the NES games I was used to playing. I thought the character was Jason from Friday the 13th when I first played the game.
Playing it now, I can see similarities to Altered Beast and Last Battle. It is much better than those games, but it is a side-scrolling beat’em up where you only move from left to right and occasionally jump. It is a basic beat’em up with exceptional graphics.
You’re trying to save your girlfriend/wife from demons, and you’ve been brought back to life by a demonic mask. The story is a little muddled in the game. Once you save her, you have to escort her out of the mansion.
I prefer the third game to this one, but it is still great. It has a horror movie atmosphere and can sometimes be gruesome. Splatterhouse 2 is a creepy game that is perfect for Halloween.
Developer: Now Production
Genre: Beat’em up
Review Score: 4/5 (All Game)
Splatterhouse 3 is more like a traditional beat’em up. You can move in all directions, like Streets of Rage and Final Fight. The game also puts you on a timer. If the timer runs out, your girlfriend/wife dies. I wouldn’t say I like this, but it incentivizes you to keep playing and get better at the game, assuming you care.
There is a power-up system in this game that I wish was in more games. You have a power meter that gets filled when you pick up power stones. When you use the power meter, you get some stat boosts, and your character gets more muscular. It is awesome that you can turn it on and off.
The game takes place five years after Splatterhouse 2. This time, Demons invade Rick’s house, kidnap Jennifer and their son David, and you must save them. The game has four endings depending on whether you save both Jennifer and David, only one of them, or neither.
I like this one more than the second. This game has a degree of exploration as you have to find either Jennifer or David in the allotted time. The controls are also much better. It is a better-looking game and is a great game to play for Halloween.
Review Score: 77/100 (Play Time)
I wish the first Predator game had been like this game. It is an isometric run-and-gun action game. Predator 2 is a game that surprised me. It sat on a shelf for a while, and I think I avoided it because I thought it was just another lousy movie license. It wasn’t a bad game; this is a great game that I don’t think gets talked about that much.
Most of what you’re doing in this game is shooting street gangs. I don’t have a problem with this at all. There is only one Predator in the movie, and the developers seem to understand this. However, it still suffers from the trends of video games in the late 80s and early 90s. The infinitely spawning enemies and the somewhat useless secondary weapons are the most annoying things.
I like this game. It is different from other movie-based games that opted for side-scrolling action. Predator 2 has some flaws, but it is a fun game to play and is better than other movie-based video games.
Genre: Beat’em up
Review Score: 7/10 (Sega-16)
This is a beat’em up with an alien invasion story. Why are there only three characters fighting against the aliens? Because it’s a video game, and having two armies fighting each other wouldn’t be as fun.
You choose one of three characters, fight alien invaders, and occasionally have some rail shooter sections. There is a little body horror as the aliens sometimes look like mutated humans. It is pretty great, even if it is a more straightforward arcade-style beat’em up.
This game is similar to other Sega beat’em ups like Golden Axe and Streets of Rage. You have three playable characters, the graphics are similar, and the enemies have similar attack patterns. Alien Storm is closer to Golden Axe, and I think it is a fun beat’em up.
Developer: Vic Tokai
Review Score: 82/100 (Mega Tech)
This is another of Vic Tokai’s games with the player throwing something at enemies. The gameplay for Decap Attack is very similar to Kid Kool and Psycho Fox. It is a surprisingly good game that leans into a goofy horror theme.
Decap Attack is a side-scrolling platformer where you play as a mummy named Chuck D. Head. Oh, you want more pun names? Okay, you were created by Dr. Frank N. Stein. That is all I got. Anyway, you’re trying to defeat a demon, and one of your only weapons is to throw your head at enemies. It makes perfect sense to me.
It is a great game! The controls are solid, the story is precisely what you would expect for the time, and the graphics are great. The only bad thing I have to say about the game is how every platform feels like ice is covering it. However, this leads to a cartoonish effect where Chuck runs on the air to get back on the platform.
Developer: Probe Software
Review Score: 3.5/5 (AllGame)
This is one of the games on this list that I wanted to like more. It has a scary atmosphere, this version is way better than the NES version, and it has a great premise. It doesn’t follow the movie that close, but I think it works for a video game. Aside from the location, the game barely resembles the movie’s plot.
You play as Ripley, and you have to save a bunch of prisoners from xenomorphs. You’re racing the clock to save the prisoners and escape to the next level. You can also seal doors to prevent aliens from entering. You can also gather an arsenal of weapons while playing the game.
My biggest problem with the game is how quickly the enemies appear. You’re given little time to get off a shot before the xenomorphs and face huggers hit you. Aside from that issue, the graphics are great, and the music is good.
Developer: Sega and Compile
Review Score: 7/10 (Sega-16)
Ghostbusters on the Sega Genesis is fantastic! It is a side-scrolling platformer where you play as one of the Ghostbusters unless you want to play as Winston, who isn’t in the game. Compared to the other retro Ghostbusters games, this is one of the better games.
In Ghostbusters, you take control of one of the Ghostbusters and fight ghosts in one of several locations. Each location has a boss, which has a few forms. It is a lot of fun, even if some enemies are a little overpowered, and the levels are sometimes confusing.
I discovered this game from an episode of AVGN. It was one of the many games that I didn’t know about before I started collecting video games. It is much better than the other Ghostbuster games that I’ve played.
Ghouls ‘N Ghosts
Review Score: 36/40 (EGM)
I have a love-hate relationship with this series of games. I want to like them, but I’m so bad at them that I have difficulty playing them. What each of these games has is a great horror atmosphere.
Ghouls ‘N Ghosts has an interesting story behind it. Sega developed the game as a workaround for Capcom’s inability to publish games for the Genesis in North America. I’m not sure if Nintendo’s restrictive contracts extended to other regions (i.e., Europe), but Capcom was restricted to publishing games on other consoles in North America.
This is a side-scrolling action game that is based on an arcade game. It is a little different from the arcade game, but it still has similar gameplay to it. This is a challenging game. You have three lives and two hit points for each life. There are a bunch of weapons in the game, and each of them requires different strategies to be successful.
This is a good game that appeals to people who either love a challenge or enjoy arcade side-scrollers. I’m not a big fan of this sub-genre, but I find it fascinating. I love the creepy setting of Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, and I think the idea of fighting the Devil and Satan is a cool idea for a game.
Review Score: 84/100 (GameRankings)
This is my favoriteCastlevania game. It has good graphics, and I like having the option of who to play as. It isn’t as good as Super Castlevania IV, but it is an excellent entry in the series.
You play as one of two characters hunting Dracula’s minions across Europe during the First World War. The different locations for the basis for the levels look great for the most part. There are a few spots where the backgrounds don’t look good, but the rest of the levels look great.
You can choose between John Morris or Eric Lecarde. John uses a whip, and Eric uses a spear. The characters have some relationship to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which is pretty awesome!
You’ll progress through the levels differently depending on which character you choose. This is great and offers some replay value for an otherwise short game. I prefer to play as Eric because his spear feels more straightforward to control.
Best of the Rest
When you look at retro games like these, many can be creepy, but not in the way I was looking for. I’m sure other games could be fun to play for Halloween or the month of October. Here is a list of the games I left off of the list that could’ve been added:
- The Ooze
- Fatal Rewind
- Risky Woods
- Shadow of the Beast
- Shadow of the Beast II
- The Immortal
- Bram Stoker’s Dracula
- Toxic Crusader
- Zombies Ate My Neighbors
- Dark Castle
Horror stories and ghost stories are some of my favorite things in the world. I love the idea of being scared by something that shouldn’t exist. While we don’t always get that from the horror games on consoles, they try to get the stories across through atmosphere instead of gameplay.
The Sega Genesis/Mega Drive targeted a more mature audience, at least in the North American market. Horror games were a part of that, and a good number of them are on the system. They aren’t all that scary, but they try to be.
You might notice that I left the 32X and the Sega CD off the list. I feel that those should be on their own list. I don’t have a library of games to draw on for those two add-ons, so I didn’t include them here.
At some point, I’ll dig through my games and put together a Best of List or another list like this for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive. Let me know if I left some of your favorite games off the list or if you think I’ve overlooked something.