Ghost Manor is a horror video game that was released by Xonox in 1983 for the Atari 2600 and the Vic-20. It was generally packaged in a double ended cartridge and a cassette tape along with one of three other games in an effort to appeal to budget conscious buyers who would purchase two games for the price of one cartridge and one cassette tape. There was also a more limited release of single ended cartridges and cassette tapes containing Ghost Manor by itself. The double ended cartridges and cassette tapes paired Ghost Manor with the platform game Spike's Peak, the fighting game Chuck Norris Superkicks, and a strategy game called Artillery Duel.
A release entitled Ghost Manor was released by TTI for the TurboGrafx-16. It has no relation to the Atari 2600 or Vic-20 release of Ghost Manor.
Friendly characters:Girl: Playable on both the 2600 and the 7800, she sets out to rescue the helpless boy from Ghost Manor. Set the 2600's TV Type switch to "Color" to play as the Girl.
Boy: Playable on the 2600 only, he sets out to rescue the girl from Ghost Manor. Set the 2600's TV Type Switch to "B/W" to play as the Boy. Atari 7800 users will not be able to play as the Boy, since the 7800 does not have a TV Type switch.
Neutral Characters:Bones: A invincible skeleton in the graveyard who will give you spears for use at the Gate.
Rainbow Ghost: A ghost who is otherwise identical to Bones.
Enemies:Chopping Mummy: Found in the game's second stage, the Chopping Mummy is the leader of the Spooks at the Gate. He will try to stop the Boy or Girl from entering Ghost Manor. The Chopping Mummy is invincible until all of the Spooks are defeated. Contact with the Chopping Mummy's blade ends the game instantly.
Spooks: Any of the eight beings flying around the Gate. They consist of two green scorpions, two white skulls, three black bats, and the black knight. Defeat them using your Spears.
Dracula: The sinister being who guards the Prison (and your friend) in the game's final stage. He is vulnerable only to the Crosses you find in the game. Contact with Dracula is lethal to your character.
Most of the items in Ghost Manor help the character out, but one will end your game.Hourglass: Counts down with the game timer. If you cannot rescue your friend within four minutes, you lose.
Spears: Used to shoot down Spooks at the Gate, also used to kill the Chopping Mummy. Only one spear is needed for each kill. Spear tokens appear to the left of the hourglass to indicate how many Spears you have collected, and a counter on the lower left indicates the exact number of Spears remaining.
Lamp: Only present in the easy and medium difficulty settings. Used to light the interior of Ghost Manor. Without it, you must rely on lightning strikes to see.
Cross: Used to repel Dracula. Press and hold the button during the last stage to use the power of a Cross. Release the button to stop using the Cross's power. Each Cross has about three seconds' worth of total usage before it is used up and disappears from the character's inventory. One Cross can be found in a coffin on Stage 3, and another Cross is hidden in a coffin on Stage 4. One bonus Cross is awarded when the character enters the Prison. Remaining Crosses are displayed to the right of the hourglass above where the Lamp appears if the character has the Lamp. The Crosses are hidden in different coffins each time you play.
Moving walls: Found on Stage 3 and 4, touching these from behind will award you points. Colliding with them while they're moving toward you will end your game immediately.
The game consists of five stages:
The player must guide their character around and touch Bones or the Rainbow Ghost a set number of times. In order for the contact to count, the contact must be made on a gravestone and while the player is moving. Each contact that meets these criteria awards the player a single Spear. The number of Spears that can be awarded depends on the difficulty setting of the game.
The player must use the Spears to shoot down Spooks. When all seven Spooks are shot down, the player must use one final spear to shoot the Chopping Mummy. During this time, the Chopping Mummy will chop at the player in an attempt to touch the character with his blade and end the game. The Chopping Mummy does chop to a rhythm. Learning this rhythm enables players to avoid the Mummy's blade entirely with some practice. It is possible to run out of Spears. If that happens, the player cannot defeat any more Spooks or the Chopping Mummy, and the game will run until either the Chopping Mummy's blade comes in contact with the character or the player resets their console.
Although the layouts and colors change, these two stages are nearly identical. The player must move their character to the staircase in Stage 3, and then from one staircase to the other in Stage 4. Touching any of the stationary walls may stun the character. The character can press up against the trailing side of the moving walls to earn extra points, however, touching the leading side of a moving wall will end the game. Players may search the coffins in these stages by touching them from the correct side. A tone is played for each successful search. One coffin in each stage contains a Cross, which is used to repel Dracula in the final stage of the game. If the character has a Lamp, the playfield will be illuminated the entire time the character is in either stage 3 or 4. If the character does not have a Lamp, the playfield will only be illuminated for brief periods when lightning strikes near Ghost Manor.
Situated atop Ghost Manor, the Prison is where the game's final battle takes place. Players must guide their character underneath Dracula and press the red button on their Joystick to force Dracula upward into one of the cells at the top of the screen. Players cannot force Dracula to move any direction other than up, however when Dracula is not being repelled he will follow the character left or right. To successfully restrain Dracula, players must use their character to bait him into moving underneath a cell, then press the button to force him upward into that cell. Repelling Dracula requires the character to have at least one Cross. Each Cross only lasts a few seconds, so players must keep the battle as short as possible. As soon as Dracula is restrained in either cell, the character's friend is released and will follow the character to the stairwell. Once both the character and their friend reach the stairwell, the player wins the game.
When the game is over, the Boy and Girl are both displayed in the Graveyard holding hands. If the rescue was not successful, both characters will sink into the ground along with the tombstones and Ghost Manor itself. The tune "Taps" plays during this ending. If the rescue was successful, the characters will remain standing in the Graveyard while everything else sinks. A "happy melody" plays for this ending. After a few minutes the game will restart automatically unless the power is turned off.
Although winning or losing Ghost Manor depends on rescuing your friend, the game does keep score.10 points are awarded along with each Spear in the Graveyard.
Spooks are worth varying amounts of points.
The lower Scorpion is worth 800 points, and the upper Scorpion is worth 300 points.
The lower Skull is worth 700 points, and the upper skull is worth 600 points.
The lowest Bat is worth 500 points, the middle Bat is worth 200 points, and the highest Bat is worth 0 points.
The Chopping Mummy is worth 1100 points.
Touching the trailing side of the moving walls awards points while contact is maintained.
Searching coffins awards points as follows, even if no Cross is found. The amount ranges from 100 to 10,000 points depending on how far away the moving wall is and which direction it is moving. Generally the closer the wall when it's moving toward the player, the more points are awarded.
Difficulty settings in Ghost Manor affect how fast enemy characters move and whether or not the Lamp is available for use. At higher difficulties, fewer spears are awarded by Bones and/or the Rainbow Ghost. Each difficulty level is set as follows:Easy: Set both switches to the B position.
Medium: Set the Left Difficulty switch to B and the right difficulty switch to A.
Hard: Set the Left Difficulty switch to A and the right difficulty switch to B.
Hardest: Set both switches to the A position.
Note that on Sears Tele Games consoles that the Difficulty Switches are called "Skill" switches. Expert is the same as the A position, and Novice is the same as B position. Further, on the Atari 7800, the difficulty switches are located on the front of the console between the controller ports. Slide the switch to the left for B position and to the right for A position.
Xonox games were developed by a team of people across the United States. Credit is given to the individual programmers in the accompanying instruction manuals, but not on the game's label or the box. Xonox worked with design houses for each of their games, each house having its own expert staff. Typically the development cycle of each game proceeded from script to storyline to the programmers and finally to a target audience of kids. From there, the games were play tested by kids, then sent to Xonox and the programmers in turn for tweaking.
Ghost Manor was originally intended to be released for the Atari 2600, Colecovision, the Vic-20 and the Commodore 64, and licensed to third party software companies for release on other systems. The final releases, however, were only for the Atari 2600 and the Vic-20.
Ghost Manor was typically sold alongside one of Xonox's other games in a double ended cartridge. The idea was to give the customer a "two for the price of one" purchase of new games. The games packaged with Ghost Manor were selected based on common elements shared between the Ghost Manor and the paired games.