Atmosfear (series)

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Atmosfear series
Atmosfear the Video Board Game.jpg
Cover art for DVD version
Designer(s) Brett Clements
Phillip Tanner
Illustrator(s) Richard McKenna
Carmen Delprat
Daniel Burns
Publisher(s) J. W. Spear & Sons
Mattel
Flying Bark Productions
Publication date 1991–2006
Genre(s) Horror and terror
Players 3–6
Age range 12+
Setup time 10 minutes
Playing time Up to 60 minutes
Skill(s) required Dice rolling and Strategy

Atmosfear (previously known as Nightmare in certain regions) is an Australian[1][2] horror video board game series released from 1991 by Phillip Tanner and Brett Clements.

Two years after the game's launch in 1991, the two millionth Nightmare board game was sold. Since then, three game expansions have been released.

A major refresh to the series was released in 1995, titled The Harbingers, which sold above the industry's sales predictions in Australia and became one of the top-ten best-selling games in the United States and the United Kingdom within months of its release.

The series was revived in 2004 with the release of The Gatekeeper, which included a DVD to replace the video cassette which, with the help of random programming, allows the creators to give a whole new game every time the DVD is played. A second DVD board game was released in 2006 entitled Khufu the Mummy.

Gameplay[edit]

The object of the games is to collect six different coloured "Keystones"[3][4][5][6] and thus beat the host. For most games in the series, the "Gatekeeper" is the host but other characters have "stepped in" and taken his place.[6] To beat the host, the players must face their worst fear. If none of the players are able to win the game within the set time limit, the host is the winner.[7] A videotape,[3][4] or in later games a DVD,[5][6] is included with the game and acts as a game clock. The video stars the host of the game, who appears throughout the tape giving instructions to players. When a player has collected the Keystones, they can win the game by facing their earlier expressed "greatest fear", which is actually just a random event; if they are successful they win the game.

Games[edit]

Nightmare[edit]

Phillip Tanner and Brett Clements met in 1982 and a year later they both set up their own television production company, A Couple 'A Cowboys.[8] They developed a pilot and took it to Village Roadshow, who within 24 hours signed a marketing and distribution agreement.[9][10] Nightmare was released in September 1991.[11] In Europe, the game was renamed to Atmosfear to avoid legal issues with the name Nightmare, which was already taken.[12] On the game's release, a marketing campaign was launched with advertising appearing on television and in cinemas.[13] The game was popular in Australia, leading to sold-out "dance parties" and a number of advertising deals, including one with Pepsi. A song and a music video were also created for the game.[14] Clements and Tanner sold the two millionth board game during the 1993 Christmas period.[15]

Expansions[edit]

Following the success of Nightmare, four game expansions were announced but only three were released. Each expansion comes with a new tape and new time and fate cards, with a different character hosting each new tape. Nightmare II is hosted by Baron Samedi released in 1992. Nightmare III is hosted by Anne de Chantraine released in 1993. Nightmare IV is hosted by Elizabeth Bathory released in 1994.[12] The game's fourth expansion was going to be released in 1995, but faced with declining sales of the series, it was cancelled and replaced by The Harbingers.[12]

The Harbingers[edit]

Main article: The Harbingers

With the feedback received from players after the release of Nightmare, Clements and Tanner started work on the major update to the series.[16] They struck a deal with J. W. Spear & Sons,[17] to use publishing experience and market research with Nightmare to help create the new game. The deal allowed J. W. Spear & Sons to have input into how the game was developed, which was not the case with Nightmare.[18] Village Roadshow was also involved with the game's development and with its release in the United States.[19] The development ended six years after it started, with about six million dollars invested in the development of the game.[20] The Harbingers sold above the industry's sales predictions in Australia and became one of the top-ten best-selling games in the United States and the United Kingdom within months of its release.[21] On the game's release, Mattel launched a marketing campaign with a spot on MTV, cross-promotions with soft drinks and a website for the game.[22]

Booster tapes[edit]

Two booster tapes were released following the success of The Harbingers.[12] The tapes provide a challenging experience to The Harbingers for experienced players. The booster tapes run for forty-five minutes instead of the sixty minutes of the original, and come with a new rule to limit the number of Keystones added to each province based on the number of players. Other than this limit the normal rules apply.[23]

The Soul Rangers[edit]

A year later, an add-on called The Soul Rangers was released. The add-on allows players to play only as The Soul Rangers. The add-on was released because the creators found out that players enjoy causing damage as The Soul Rangers.[12][24]

The Gatekeeper[edit]

After nine years of development,[25] The Gatekeeper was released on 8 July 2004.[26] In just six months of its release, 60,000 copies were sold,[27] growing to 600,000 worldwide sales.[28] The Gatekeeper came with a DVD instead of a videotape with the help of random programming allowing the creators to give a whole new game every time the DVD is played.[29]

Khufu the Mummy[edit]

A second DVD board game was released in 2006 entitled Khufu the Mummy.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Paulsen, Steven (1996). "Cowboys and Atmosfear". Bloodsongs (Australia: Bambada Press) (7): 16. 
  2. ^ Nicklin, Lenore (12 April 1994). "Game boys". The Bulletin (Sydney, Australia: Australian Consolidated Press) 116 (5915): 36. ISSN 0007-4039. 
  3. ^ a b Nightmare [Game booklet]. Australia: A Couple 'A Cowboys. 1991. 
  4. ^ a b The Harbingers [Game booklet]. Australia: A Couple 'A Cowboys. 1995. 
  5. ^ a b The Gatekeeper [Game booklet]. Australia: A Couple 'A Cowboys. 2004. 
  6. ^ a b c Khufu The Mummy [Game booklet]. Australia: A Couple 'A Cowboys. 2006. 
  7. ^ The Harbingers (VHS videotape). Australia: A Couple 'A Cowboys. 1995. Event occurs at 59:57. "The Gatekeeper: Its over you idiots. You have lost, and you only have yourselves to blame. So good riddance. *laughs*" 
  8. ^ Nicklin, Lenore (12 April 1994). "Game boys". The Bulletin (Sydney, Australia: Australian Consolidated Press) 116 (5915): 36. ISSN 0007-4039. "In 1983 they set up their own TV production company, calling it 'A Couple 'A Cowboys'" 
  9. ^ Nicklin, Lenore (12 April 1994). "Game boys". The Bulletin (Sydney, Australia: Australian Consolidated Press) 116 (5915): 36. ISSN 0007-4039. "They spent two years playing and testing Nightmare before making a pilot and taking it to Roadshow Entertainment, Australia's biggest distributor of video product ... Roadshow became co-producers and marketed it worldwide" 
  10. ^ McAsey, Jennifer (21 September 1991). "Nightmare makes a dream come true". Sunday Age. "Within 24 hours a marketing and distribution agreement had been signed." 
  11. ^ Beale, Bob (21 February 1994). "Cowboys riding high on back of a game idea". Sydney Morning Herald. "Nightmare was released in September 1991." 
  12. ^ a b c d e f "Horrible History". Official website for Atmosfear DVD. Flying Bark Productions. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  13. ^ McAsey, Jennifer (21 September 1991). "Nightmare makes a dream come true". Sunday Age. "The advertising for Nightmare, which began on television and in cinemas last week" 
  14. ^ Promotional video for Nightmare (VHS videotape). Australia: A Couple 'A Cowboys. 1993. 
  15. ^ Beale, Bob (21 February 1994). "'Cowboys' riding high on back of a game idea". Sydney Morning Herald. "Sometime over the past Christmas period the Cowboys got their 2 millionth paying customer." 
  16. ^ Paulsen, Steven (1996). "Cowboys and Atmosfear". Bloodsongs (Australia: Bambada Press) (7): 15. "In fact Atmosfear gave the Cowboys the opportunity to build on everything they had learnt from doing the first game, and to take into account the research and feedback from players during design phase." 
  17. ^ Paulsen, Steven (1996). "Cowboys and Atmosfear". Bloodsongs (Australia: Bambada Press) (7): 15. "This time around the Cowboys teamed up with a British company called JW Spear and Sons." 
  18. ^ Paulsen, Steven (1996). "Cowboys and Atmosfear". Bloodsongs (Australia: Bambada Press) (7): 15–16. "Nightmare was such a major success for Spear, and they had done a lot of market research on it, that they wanted to have a say in how the next game was developed. For the Cowboys, it ment that they could take advantage of Spear's obvious game development skills, rather than having to build everything up from scratch themselves." 
  19. ^ Shoebridge, Neil (16 October 1995). Roadshow speeds on to the entertainment superhighway. Australia: Business Review Weekly. p. 81. "[Village] Roadshow is releasing Atmostfear ... this year ... in the US." 
  20. ^ Paulsen, Steven (1996). "Cowboys and Atmosfear". Bloodsongs (Australia: Bambada Press) (7): 14. "[Atmosfear] was something like six years and six million dollars in production." 
  21. ^ Paulsen, Steven (1996). "Cowboys and Atmosfear". Bloodsongs (Australia: Bambada Press) (7): 14. "Here in Australia it is already selling above industry predictions, and within months of it release, it has become one of the top ten best selling games in America and is the only new game currently in the UK top ten." 
  22. ^ Elliott, Stuart (31 October 1995). "THE MEDIA BUSINESS: ADVERTISING Increasingly, companies are cashing in on Halloween's monsters and ghosts". The New York Times (New York City, United States: The New York Times Company). Business/Financial Desk. p. 8. "One particularly elaborate campaign is for Atmosfear ... There are spots that start this week on MTV and a cross-promotion in stores with soft drinks ... There is even a site on the World Wide Web for Atmosfear ... it's the first for any Mattel product." 
  23. ^ The Harbingers Booster Tape Cover (VHS videotape, USA/UK version). A Couple 'A Cowboys. 1995. "Boost the skill, strategy and suspense of ATMOSFEAR with a special 45 minute game tape for advanced players. Featuring all new appearances from The Gatekeeper. No need to read up on any new rules. Simply refer to the advanced keystone table below then insert the Booster Tape and press play for a whole new experience." 
  24. ^ Paulsen, Steven (1996). "Cowboys and Atmosfear". Bloodsongs (Australia: Bambada Press) (7): 17. "What the Cowboys have since discovered, of cause, is that many players actually enjoy being Soul Rangers, simply because they can go around and do a lot of damage. In fact the next Atmosfear video board game will feature these gruesome boys and will be titled The Soul Rangers." 
  25. ^ Thom, Greg (11 August 2004). "Far from being board - How DVD plays a new role". The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, Australia: News Limited). "[Philip Tanner] has been working on Atmosfear since 1995." 
  26. ^ "Fear factor". The Sunday Mail (Adelaide, Australia: News Limited). 27 June 2004. p. 2. "On July 8, the new DVD boardgame Atmosfear: The Gatekeeper will hit the shelves." 
  27. ^ Fewster, Sean (15 July 2006). "DVD REVOLUTION Rebirth of traditional family fun Pirates join battle of the board games". The Advertiser (Adelaide, Australia: News Limited). p. 33. "Nightmare was resurrected as the DVD game Atmosfear in 2004, and sold 60,000 copies in just six months." 
  28. ^ MacLean, Sheena (23 March 2006). "Digital growth needs strategy". The Australian (Australia: News Limited). p. 39. "Atmosfear ... has notched up 600,000 in worldwide sales since its release in 2004." 
  29. ^ Thom, Greg (11 August 2004). "Far from being board - How DVD plays a new role". The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, Australia: News Limited). "Unlike the linear-based storytelling format dictated by videotape, the deep data pockets of DVD allow more than 300 varied storylines and responses from the Gatekeeper, so no game truly plays the same way twice." 

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