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

  • D
Even though I am VERY well-versed on the major consoles of the second generation (Atari 2600, Intellivision, and ColecoVision), I had not gotten to play the Odyssey 2 until recently. Unfortunately, early impressions have not been positive. Computer Golf annoyed the hell out of me. I hoped that the second game I tried Nightmare would improve my perception of the Odyssey 2 console, but no such luck.

Nightmare is the only horror-themed game on the Odyssey 2, and it does pull off a decent atmosphere for the era. The animations on the player character are decent, and the ghosts that serve as the primary antagonists are large and well-detailed. The ghosts stay invisible unless you get close which was a good decision to add a bit of tension to the game. The lightning effects are decent as well with some good sound effects. The only real problem with the aesthetics is an annoying flicker that seems to come up at random times. I could understand if it come up during the lightning strikes (even if it would still be unappealing), but it doesn't.

Nightmare (Odyssey 2)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Unfortunately, the gameplay is what ruins the game. The goal is simple: cross the screen from the bottom to the top without running into the adversaries. Each level adds additional walls to the stage ostensibly to provide new tactics. However, that fails because the AI has issues that are way too easy to exploit. The ghosts at the top and bottom rows stay at the left-hand wall until you get close to their rows, and the center ghost is programmed to start at the right and move to block you. I found that I could start at the bottom-left corner, wait about four seconds, run diagonally up and right until I reach the right wall, and then run straight up to reach the top with no fuss. That pattern worked for the first ten stages without fail; I didn't have to change my path even a little bit. As established in Night Stalker, exploitable AI can kill any tension the game is going for. On the plus side, the two-player mode gives the second player control of the ghosts, eliminating the problems with the AI. Most of the deaths I got were the result of things I couldn't see because of the flicker I mentioned before which is just beyond cheap.

Nightmare wasn't tense, scary, or fun; it was just straight-up annoying. Whether it was the ghosts that were a cinch to dodge because of AI that's too easy to exploit or the invisible enemies that are just cheap, nothing about the game was satisfying. Right now, the only fear I have is that I won't find anything on the Odyssey 2 worth playing.
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