Can you survive An Unholy Return: The 31 Games of Halloween?
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Night Stalker Reviewed by Adam Wallace on . Rating: 71%
Night Stalker
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  • Review Score:

  • B
As I mentioned when I reviewed Haunted House, atmosphere was still possible to provide even with the limited technology of second-gen hardware. It just required creative design. Night Stalker managed to pull off decent atmosphere for the time, and its gameplay even held up reasonably well with checked expectations.

Night Stalker puts the player in a dark cave with spiders, bats, and robots with the simple goal of surviving as long as possible. A gun is available, but it only provides six shots. It respawns in random spots only when the player runs out, adding to the tension. Only the robots can kill you, but the spiders and bats can freeze you in place for a few seconds. Later robots (that strangely look like the Daleks from Dr. Who) get faster, gain shields, and get more relentless in their pursuit. Tension increases at a steady pace, helped along by the bass pulse that plays throughout the game.

Night Stalker (Intellivision)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The gameplay held up decently after 35 years. Gameplay is similar to Tron: Deadly Discs with the control disc handling the movement and the keypad doing the shooting. Unlike Tron, shots are only in four directions rather than eight. I consider that a plus as the game became much easier to pick up. The biggest problem is that the game is PAINFULLY slow at the default speed. It becomes a test of patience. Fortunately, there are four speed settings for the game. If you're going to play, set the game to the fastest speed every time.

There are some issues that are hard to overlook. First, the tension becomes limited when you realize that enemies respawn at the same places every single time. Camping the spawn points becomes the default strategy. The AI routines are all over the place ... literally. While the later robots relentlessly chase you all over the level, the early ones just wonder around aimlessly like Clyde in Pac-Man. They also have a bad habit of hovering around the bunker in the center of the map (your spawn point); I got killed more than a few times that way. I also experienced a strange delay with the shooting controls at random points. I still don't know what caused them.

Night Stalker holds up well, better than many second-gen games. As long as the speed is maxed each time, the creepy atmosphere still works, and the gameplay is still decent. There's a reason why Night Stalker shows up on every Intellivision collection. Play it this Halloween.
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