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Haunting Starring Polterguy: What Did Critics Say in 1993?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on October 17, 2014   |   Episode 109 (Show Archive)  

   

Haunting Starring Polterguy (Sega Genesis)
Ever wonder what Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and other popular magazines thought of your favorite 8-, 16- and 32-bit games? Now you can find out, thanks to Review Crew! This is the only show on the internet that is willing to go back in time to find out what old school critics thought of retro games at the time. Did they pan your favorite game? Did they love something terrible? Find out every Monday, Wednesday and Friday as Defunct Games presents Review Crew!

We continue our month-long journey through spooky 8- and 16-bit games with Haunting Starring Polterguy, one of Electronic Arts' earliest horror games. This quirky Genesis release sees players scaring the stuffing out of the unlucky people living in your house. Did critics love this compelling concept, or were they scared away by the repetitive jokes and easy difficulty? We dig through old issues of Mean Machines Sega, Sega Force Mega, GamePro and Computer + Video Games for the answers.

(NOTE: Although we occasionally cut for length, no other edits are made to the reviews. Defunct Games does not change any of the wording, grammar or punctuation use. Keep in mind that our score is the average of all critics at the time, not just the sample that is reprinted on this page. For more details and answers to common questions, we encourage you to read the Review Crew FAQ. There you'll find information on review guidelines, how we convert scores, magazine covers and more.)

Haunting Starring Polterguy
[ Company: Electronic Arts | Console: Genesis ]

MEAN MACHINES SEGA #12
86% out of 100%

"Haunting's a completely inspired idea for a video game. The clever concept stands head and shoulders above the pile of derivative platformers that make up the majority of 'new releases.' Even better it's original to the Megadrive, not some computer conversion. I think Haunting won't have enough lasting-appeal for 'serious' gamers, but as a family game it's 'dead' good, and EA [sic]" -Gus

SEGA FORCE MEGA #4
85% out of 100%

"I was trying to think of a genre to place Haunting Starring Polterguy in, then I thought why bother? When you get a game that's got a fairly original theme there is really no need to try to pigeon hole. The idea is great. Scare the Sardinis until they lose control of their bodily funtions - they make quite a mess believe me! Someone out there has got a sick mind, but it has produced a brilliant game, so who's complaining?" -Chris

GAMEPRO (October 1993)
4 out of 5

"One minute you're thrashin', the next minute you're dead! Haunting is a spookfest that's over all too quickly. It isn't going to give you nightmares (no gruesome graphics or crunching challenge). Just the same, this game qualifies as the fun fright to the finish. Haunting is a good, quick scare for intermediate gamers and for the kids." -Toxic Tommy

COMPUTER + VIDEO GAMES #142
75% out of 100%

"What can I say about a game that features a turd monster? Haunting is certainly one of the more original games to arrive on the Megadrive and the first few times you play it really is pretty funny. But, as with most comedies, once you've seen the jokes you've seen it all and it soon becomes repetitive. It's also let down by the dungeon sections, which are just plain dull and serve to annoy rather than add variety." -Garth Sumpter

SEGA FORCE MEGA #4
64% out of 100%

"It's nice to see an original idea for once - few games allow you to play the role of a ghost with a sole aim in afterlife to scare the living daylights out of his earth-dwelling foes! Haunting Starring Polterguy manages to carry it out very well except for one area and what is that the game is just a little bit on the easy side. We found that after a few games the gameplay became a little repetitive and with a little practice you find yourself completing the game." -Marc
REVIEW CREW AVERAGE: 78% - Not long ago, Glitchy Pixel announced Poltergeist for the PS Vita. With its ghostly theme and isometric perspective, I couldn't help but be reminded of Haunting Starring Polterguy. Electronic Arts' 16-bit horror game may not have caught on, but it had a lot of good ideas and I can't wait to see what another company does with similar material. With the exception of Marc from Sega Force Mega, the critics agreed with my take on this quirky horror game. Computer + Video Games enjoyed the game's sense of humor and pretty much everybody liked that it wasn't yet another derivative side-scrolling action game. Mean Machines Sega went as far as to say Haunting "stands head and shoulders" over a lot of other games released in 1993. But Marc wasn't as impressed. Sure, he liked the original idea, but he found the whole thing too easy and targeted squarely at kids. This is something GamePro picked up on as well, noting that it was good for "intermediate gamers and for the kids." Still, even with a negative mark, Haunting Starring Polterguy managed to scare up an average of 78%.

ON THE NEXT REVIEW CREW: We're quickly running out of days before Halloween! Next week we're going to look at all three 16-bit Splatterhouse releases, starting with the first on TurboGrafx-16. Did critics love the gooey nature of Splatterhouse, or were they disappointed by the simplistic gameplay? You'll have to tune in on Monday for the answers. Make sure and check out the Review Crew archive for more old school reviews, and don't forget to tweet me @DefunctGames to let me know what games you want to see next!

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