Can you survive An Unholy Return: The 31 Games of Halloween?
Dracula Reviewed by Adam Wallace on . Rating: 85%
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When several Atari programmers left to form Activision and proceeded to produce games for the Atari 2600, Atari sued claiming copyright infringement. The court's decision in favor of Activision opened the floodgates for third-party development on game consoles. Most third-party developers during the second generation ranged from average to god-awful. However, there were a few outstanding ones, particularly the aforementioned Activision and a smaller company called Imagic.

Imagic may not have created new genres or brought in weird concepts like Activision, but the company showed a masterful grasp of both the 2600 and Intellivision's hardware. Imagic was responsible for some of the most technologically advanced and fondly remembered games of the era including Atlantis and Demon Attack. One of the company's triumphs is Dracula.

Dracula (Intellivision)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Despite the name, Dracula the game has virtually nothing to do with the Bram Stoker novel or the Bela Lugosi movie. You're not seeking Mina, hiding in Carfax Abbey, or being hunted by Van Helsing. You play a generic vampire in a then-modern town. I suspect that the game was named Dracula just for easy recognition.

Your goal in each stage is to catch and drain a certain number of victims and return to your crypt before sunrise. A couple of people are in the open, but others have to be drawn out of their houses by knocking on their doors. As the game progresses, later stages include wolves that slow you down on contact and constables that throw oak stakes that freeze you for a few seconds. The vampire can't die unless he hadn't returned to his crypt in time, and he can't return until he had reached his victim quota for the stage. Fortunately, he has a couple of tricks up his sleeve. He can turn into a bat for a quick escape (though he'd be vulnerable to attacking vultures), and he can turn humans into his slaves to fight off the constables. The slaves are controlled by the second player, creating one of the first instances of asymmetrical multiplayer in video game history.

The gameplay is very well done. The controls are easy to grasp for both the vampire and the slaves though the slanted viewing perspective does make going up or down a little disorienting. Aside from choosing the number of players and difficulty, the keypad is ignored in favor of just the disc and fire buttons. The difficulty curve is very smooth; there were none of the spikes that plagued many second gen games. Repetition does set in after a while, but overall the game plays great.

Dracula (Intellivision)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The game is also a technical showcase for the Intellivision. The animation is amazingly fluid, the impressive-for-the-system scenery makes the cityscapes in Superman on the Atari 2600 look pathetic, and the night-to-day transition is almost as good as that in Frog Bog. The sound effects are minimal, but nothing will have you reaching for the mute button.

A generic vampire may star in Dracula, but the game is anything but generic for the Intellivision. Most of Imagic's games have held up amazingly well even after three decades, and this one is no exception. Though vampire games vary wildly in quality, this one absolutely doesn't suck.
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