Can you survive An Unholy Return: The 31 Games of Halloween?
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Reviewed by Adam Wallace on . Rating: 20%
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre The Texas Chainsaw Massacre The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
  • Review Score:

  • D
Back in the second generation of video games, there were certain qualities that came to mind when it came to the developers. Some thrived on pushing then-new technology, others saw the potential in a new form of home entertainment, and still others saw a fad that could rake in some serious money for a while. However, there was one thing that Wizard Video Games showed off above all else: balls of solid brass.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Atari 2600)Click For the Full Picture Archive

At a time when simple arcade ports and family-friendly titles were the dominant force on the Atari 2600, Wizard was pioneering for the adult audience. One of their favorite inspirations turned out to be classic slasher flicks, one of which was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Based on the 1974 Tobe Hooper classic about a cannibal family that terrorizes a group of college-age kids, the Atari game from 1983 broke new ground in two fundamental ways. First, it was one of the first games in which the player is the bad guy; here, the player controls Leatherface himself armed with his trusty chainsaw. Second, it was one of the first games with visible digitized gore. When Leatherface's chainsaw comes into contact with a young girl, she turns into an indescribable mass of bloody mush.

However, even with the clear chutzpah on display by the developers, the ground-breaking with the concept doesn't change the fact that the game sucks. The whole goal of the game is to chase down young girls and murder them before Leatherface's chainsaw runs out of gas. Chasing down the girls becomes needlessly difficult because of two things. First, there is a ton of litter from brush and fences to cow skulls and wheelchairs randomly strewn all over the place. Every time Leatherface touches one of the obstructions (even by just a pixel), he's frozen in place for a few seconds. The chainsaw can get him off the objects faster, but too much gas would be wasted. Second, the girls have the strange ability to teleport at random whenever Leatherface gets close. I could find no rationale for why the girls could do that, but it makes the game unfair.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Atari 2600)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Aesthetically, the game ranges from meh to god-awful. The game uses a large color palette, and most of the objects are decent for the system. The two exceptions are Leatherface himself (his chainsaw looks more like his arms are tied together) and the bloody piles his victims turn into. The sounds are terrible. The chainsaw revving up sounds more like the sound designer recorded himself eating Cap'n Crunch, and the shrill whistle that comes on whenever one of the girls gets on-screen would make you desperate to kill the broad just to turn the sound off.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie was a ground-breaker for horror films, and the Atari game based on it broke ground for adult games. However, take out the developers' moxie and you're left with an absolute mess of a game. Being on the receiving end of a chainsaw would be less punishing than wasting Halloween playing this trash.
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