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Midnight Mutants is an action-adventure game for the Atari 7800 ProSystem, developed by Radioactive Software and published by Atari Corporation in 1990. It features a likeness of Al Lewis, dressed as Grandpa Munster, playing the role of "Grampa." The game, along with Sentinel, was one of the last releases by Atari for the Atari 7800.
Until 1989, most Atari 7800 titles had tended to be conversions of single-screen arcade games from the early 1980s or ports of early to mid-1980s computer titles that had been found on the Commodore 64 or Atari 800 XL computer. This placed the Atari 7800 at a disadvantage when its library was compared against scrolling screen games such as Super Mario Brothers, The Legend of Zelda or Alex Kidd in Miracle World. In 1989, Atari had finally recognized this gap in their software lineup and begun to release similarly themed Atari 7800 titles such as Commando and Scrapyard Dog, ultimately concluding with Midnight Mutants.
As with similar games of that era, Midnight Mutants features a large in-game environment with many locations, a background musical soundtrack, battles against boss enemies and an animated introduction.
On Halloween night in 1992 young Jimmy Harkman's grandfather (known as "Grampa") has been imprisoned inside of a pumpkin by a resurrected villain named Dr. Evil, who is taking revenge for being burned at the stake as a witch by their ancestor Johnathon Harkman on Halloween night in 1747.
Jimmy then heads on a Halloween quest to free his grandfather. With Doctor Evil on the loose, Jimmy finds the countryside has become inhabited by scary creatures such as zombies and werewolves that can injure him physically and also make his blood impure. Fortunately, even though Grampa is trapped in pumpkin form, he is available to give Jimmy advice on occasion with the push of a button. Along the way, Jimmy can collect weapons and items that will help him in his quest to defeat evil creatures, giant bosses and ultimately Dr. Evil himself.
Midnight Mutants is a scrolling action-adventure game with a horror theme. It is displayed from a pseudo-isometric viewpoint and features a completely free-roaming world design.
In his quest to save Grandpa, Jimmy travels across the country side, exploring an old haunted mansion, a secret laboratory, underground caverns, a haunted forest, a pumpkin patch, a haunted graveyard, an old shipwreck, among other locations.
Initially, Jimmy is powerless to fight the evil that faces him and must rely on his wits and grandpa's advice in order to stay alive. Contact with the creatures roaming about will either cause him physical injury or make his blood lose its purity, both of which will prove fatal if he's not careful. As the game progresses, he locates various weapons of increasing power, health power-ups and other useful items that make it possible to defeat the minions of evil. Key parts of the game culminate in battles against giant boss creatures that take up most of the screen.
The game was one of the last released for the Atari 7800 and its distribution was very limited. By 1991, the Atari 7800 had vanished from most store shelves as newer 16-bit consoles took over its place. Despite its limited distribution, the game remains popular among Atari 7800 fans. Critical reaction has been fairly positive with praise being paid to the game's graphics, gameplay and quirky sense of humor. Minor negative points have been raised over the odd vertical movement and the lack of a save game feature such as a password or battery backup. In addition, the game has an unusual "two life bar" system, which adds to the challenge experienced by some players.