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Haunting starring Polterguy - Review - SEGA Genesis

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Haunting starring Polterguy - Review - SEGA Genesis
Packshot © Electronic Arts
Total bummer dude. Corporate stooge Vito Sardini is gaining his fortune by putting out substandard skateboards and, as you all know, you don't want your plank on wheels to bail and crumble while you're in a mid-acid drop that's kickturning into a backside. Well our hero, and hapless skate rat, learned this the hard way and slammed so hard it broke his neck. The skater dude has now come back from the dead as Polterguy, a poor man's teenage Beetlejuice. While the game presentation is chockfull of wacky animations and humor, the laughter slowly fades away to boredom and frustration.

Basics

  • Publisher: Electronic Arts
  • Developer: Electronic Arts
  • Release Date: 1993
  • Platform: SEGA Genesis (aka SEGA Mega Drive)
  • Genre: Adventure Game

The Good

  • A sense of humor with funny and creative sight gags.
  • High quality, cartoonish graphics in an isometric perspective.
  • Umm…Did I mention the sight gags?

The Bad

  • Not much in the way of actual gameplay.
  • Four short, identical levels with very little to do in each.
  • Repetitive and simplistic gameplay with awkward controls.
  • Slow and frustrating ectoplasm collecting mini-games used to stretch out the length of this short title.

Features

  • Posses Inanimate objects and make 'em move.
  • Kick and jump moves.
  • Four mission levels broken up by ectoplasm collecting mini-games.

The Game

Polterguy, seek revenge by haunting and scaring the pants off (literally) of the stuck up, prudish, Sardinis family, but since they can't actually see him, and he can't touch anything, the most damage possible is to possess key objects throughout the house. If a family member then pass by or looks at the object you possessed, it plays a spooky animation and scares the bajesers out of them. The bajesers in this case are in the form of ectoplasm puddles left behind when a Sardini runs screaming out of a room. Collecting the ectoplasm will get Polterguy's butt back on this earthly plane, but run out and he's sent back to the Underworld again.

The Underworld is filled with grabbing arms, creepy critters and black holes in the ground that will punch, chew or suck you in. Polterguy must now manipulate around the Underworld, collecting enough ectoplasm to get back to the world above. Once you do this you can keep on scaring the family until they all run out of the house…and to another house where you start the process all over again.

Although the minds behind Haunting had their hearts in the right place by trying to design a new style of gameplay, the overall execution has the feel of a lackluster Atari 2600 game with the graphics power of a SEGA Genesis. The four slow-paced levels have you wandering around different houses, all of which look basically the same, and trying to scare the Sardini family enough to leave. When the family members get scared they play a humorous animation such as dropping their pants, peeing on themselves, etc.

Possessing objects is pretty much all you can do in these levels. All you do is simply go up to a glinting item, press "A", then press "A" again to jump out. Boom, now it's possessed so when a hapless victim walks by, it plays a funny animation such as a shark popping out of a fish tank, a piano coming to life, etc. The family is pretty easy to scare, the only challenge is trying to get them out before you run out of ectoplasm and have to return to the painfully frustrating Underworld mini-game.

The only dangers in the game are that of a floating skill which snags your victory prize of ectoplasm before you can grab it, the easily avoidable family dog, who can't see you, but can smell you. The Underworld is the only area you can actually lose the game. If the grabbing arms on the wall can hit you too many times or you get sucked into the black holes on the ground, you run out of energy and croak for good, and I mean really for good because this game doesn't have any continue options.

Although it is presented in an isometric style, a precursor to 3D gaming, Polterguy's awkward controls make it even more of a nuisance, as the isometric design makes it difficult to target your jump, which causes you to bounce off a walls and ledges more often than hitting your target. Even after playing through several times, it is still questionable as to why Polterguy has a kick button when he doesn't seem to be able to make contact with anything or anyone.

Final Thoughts

If you're looking for literally five minutes to kill, then Haunting might fill the void, but you'd have more interactive gameplay by trying to possess objects in your own home over the ones in this game.

Parents Tips

Rated T for Teen by the ESRB - Some of the gags are a bit off-color and mature. For instance when Mother Sardini gets her pants scared off, she reveals some sexy underwear. Also some of the sight gags are on the gory side, like an arm getting cut off and blood.

Ports

Haunting has recently been re-released as part of the EA Replay collection for the Sony PSP.

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