Halloween (video game)

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Developer(s) MicroGraphicImage
Publisher(s) Wizard Video Games
Designer(s) Tim Martin, Robert Barber
Platform(s) Atari 2600
Release 1983
Genre(s) Action
Mode(s) Single-player

Halloween is a video game for the Atari 2600, released in October 1983 by Wizard Video Games. It is based on the classic horror film of the same name (1978). The game was designed and programmed by MicroGraphicImage, a software development company started by several ex-Apollo programmers.


Screenshot featuring the killer (top center), the babysitter (top right) and a child (bottom center).

In 1983, Halloween was adapted as a video game for the Atari 2600 by Wizard Video.[1] None of the main characters in the game were named. Players take on the role of a teenage babysitter who tries to save as many children from an unnamed, knife-wielding killer as possible.[2] In another effort to save money, most versions of the game did not even have a label on the cartridge. It was simply a piece of tape with "Halloween" written in marker.[3] The game contained more gore than the film, however. When the babysitter is killed, her head disappears and is replaced by blood pulsating from the neck as she runs around exaggeratedly. The game's primary similarity to the film is the theme music that plays when the killer appears onscreen.[4]

The player plays as an unnamed babysitter (most likely Laurie Strode), who must save children from a knife-wielding enemy, Michael Myers (though never referred to by name in the manual). The player obtains points in two ways: by rescuing children and bringing them to "safe rooms" located at both ends of each floor of the house, and by stabbing Michael with the knife (if it can be located). The player advances a level either by rescuing five children or stabbing Michael twice. The killer gets faster with each level increase, and the game continues until all of the player's three lives are lost.

This game is similar to the concept of the original film, but unlike the film it has much blood and gore. For example, when the player is killed, their head is replaced with blood streaming out of the severed neck.

Although the game was called Halloween, and featured the film's theatrical poster as its cover art as well as the movie's main music theme, the game itself never refers to any characters, including the killer, by their names in the film.[5]

Controversy and legacy[edit]

Like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Wizard's other offering, Halloween was a controversial title at the time due to its violent content and subject matter. Many game retailers refused to carry the game and the ones who did often kept it behind the counter on a request-only basis. Largely because of this, the game sold relatively poorly.

Today, Halloween is a popular yet extremely scarce title due to its poor distribution and low initial sales. It is very hard to find complete in box. Copies of this nature command a high premium, and the game is popular with not only Atari collectors but horror memorabilia collectors as well.

Halloween, along with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, drove Wizard Video Games to bankruptcy.[citation needed] While Wizard Video Games were liquidating its merchandise, some copies of the game were shipped and sold without a label, or with a simple white sticker with "HALLOWEEN" hand-written on it to cut costs. This led to even more stores rejecting the game due to its appearance.

Wizard Video's other commercial release, Halloween, had a slightly better reception than their The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,[6] however, the limited number of copies sold has made both games highly valued items among Atari collectors.[7]

The game was programmed by Tim Martin.[8] When Games by Apollo went broke, Martin and another former employee, Robert Barber, developed Halloween based on the infamous movie.[9]


  1. ^ Perron, Bernard (2009). Horror Video Games: Essays on the Fusion of Fear and Play. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. ISBN 978-0-786-45479-2.
  2. ^ Bradley-Tschirgi, Mat (May 30, 2017). "9 Spooky Horror Atari 2600 Games That Are Worth a Damn". Dread Central. Archived from the original on August 23, 2017. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  3. ^ Panico, Sam (July 15, 2017). "Unearthing Wizard Video's Halloween and Texas Chainsaw Massacre Atari Cartridges". That's Not Current. Archived from the original on September 8, 2018. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
  4. ^ George, Gregory D. (October 31, 2001). "History of Horror: A Primer of Horror Games for Your Atari". The Atari Times. Archived from the original on April 22, 2006.
  5. ^ "Halloween - The Atari Game". X-Entertainment. 2004-10-29. Retrieved 2008-11-10.
  6. ^ "Halloween for the Atari 2600". Rogue Cinema. April 1, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-11.
  7. ^ "Halloween". GameSpot. Retrieved 2008-10-27.
  8. ^ Fahs, Travis (2009-10-30). "IGN Presents the History of Survival Horror". IGN. Retrieved 2016-06-19.
  9. ^ Stilphen, Scott (1982-07-23). "DP Interviews ... Ed Salvo". Digital Press. Retrieved 2015-07-16.

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