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About the Story
Enter The Escapist's very own haunted house ... if you dare!
Though it's a somewhat standard find-and-give, the writing is often hilarious and full of great references to the gaming culture of yore. The environment can be a bit stiff, though, with few objects fully elaborated upon. (by Nate Dovel)
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I have always been a sucker for spooky games. Anything haunted, whether it be a house, an asylum, an abandoned church building, an amusement park--you name it. When I learned that the Phantom of the Arcade was set in a haunted video arcade I just could not resist.
The game started out interestingly, with the player arriving mistakenly at a run-down building that turns out to be an abandoned arcade. Initial explorations quickly reveal that it is not all that abandoned after all, although there are no corporeal entities to be found within. Nice start.
But then, as we get further in, atmosphere gives way to attempts at sophomoric humour. Some of the jokes work, but before long, sadly, they begin to fall flat, since it is essentially the same joke over and over again: "some games good, some games stupid, only strange people play these games". The puzzles consist of picking up things found along the way and handing them over to the various entities inhabiting the arcade. Any strategy rapidly becomes a simple matter of lawnmowering to decide what item to give each apparition. (These ghosts, by the way, appear mostly to be the type of youth one would have expected to inhabit arcades over the past ten to fifteen years. Perhaps the moral of the story is "arcades kill", because there were no older ghosts to be found anywhere, all of them apparently taken before they had emerged from post adolescence.)
I can't really recommend Phantom of the Arcade, unless you are interested in something very light on challenge, prose and plot. I see that two of the authors have written a sequel to this game a year later. Perhaps I'll give it a spin to see if they have improved.
Released by The Escapist videogame website as a Halloween treat, Phantom of the Arcade is a sparse, simplistic adventure in which you traverse an abandoned games arcade busting ghosts. Implementation of scenery nouns is minimal, and there is no interaction with the ghosts beyond examining them and giving them the the thing they require, but as a Halloween diversion it works great. Plenty of pokes at videogame culture, some sharply amusing responses to unnecessary actions, and at least one clever lateral-thinking puzzle make this a winner.
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""But my madness speaks: It will but skin and film the ulcerous place, Whilst rank corruption, mining all within, Infects unseen." Welcome to the Citadel of Justice. The Inquisitor is waiting." [--blurb from Competition Aught-Zero]