What better way to celebrate the arrival of Halloween this year than to take a look at some of the most obscure and terrifying retro horror games of the 90s that are better than most modern games today!? From psychological games that get under your skin for days to come to jumpscares, these games have them all and not only did they help to invent the genres they pioneer but most of the games on this list are still incredible experiences to this day. This isn't just a nostalgic trip down memory lane, this **** will **** you up.
Clock Tower - SNES / SFC English Translated(Also Remade on PS1)
Truly groundbreaking: this Super Famicom survivor horror title, Clock Tower: The First Fear was originally only released in Japan due to it's grotesqueries and dark theme. To this day, this game is probably the best horror game ever released for the SNES / SFC and thus has spawned a generation of meme references for good reason. This game is fantastic and shows you that limitations of graphics do not at ALL impact the ability to create a horror game.
While Clock Tower: The First Fear does indulge in the typical horror trappings of being set in a foreboding mansion-type setting where a large cast of friends slowly begin to meet their doom, it still succeeds in flipping the script by keeping you unarmed throughout your experience. You’re given no weapons at all here, with the mere options of hiding or running away acting as your only salvation.
999: 9hours 9persons 9doors - Nintendo DS (also remade on PC/Steam)
A game about 9 people who were drugged and find themselves on a sinking ship with strange bracelets on their arms that will detonate and kill them if they do the wrong action quickly becomes one of the most deep and intriguing plot lines of any game ever made. Seriously. With branching paths and multiple endings, this game is truly a masterpiece in it's delivery. MAKE SURE TO SAVE OFTEN and do not overwrite your save file because you WILL want to go back and see how your decisions durastically impact the game's finale.
Barely making the cut for this list is the most "modern" title you'll see in this lineup. This game is playable through the Drastic Emulator and it's worth the time it will take you to map the touchscreen controls to your analog stick to play this gem. One of the best stories for any game at all, let alone retro games, 999 has interesting puzzle solving, dark and interesting themes, memorable characters and a gripping story you'll be very excited to finish. If you haven't played it, or if you played it but did not beat it's multiple endings you owe it to yourself to have your mind blown when you piece this story together.
Parasite Eve Series - Playstation 1 & PSP
One of the best hidden gems of horror titles we can present to you. If you haven't played Parasite Eve or it's sequel yet and you own a RetroEvolved game console, Raspberry Pi or own a Playstation, get these games and play them. End of story.
The game takes place over a six day span in New York City in 1997. The incident starts on December 24 and ends on December 29.
The first day, "Resonance", begins with Aya Brea, an N.Y.P.D. rookie, attending an opera at the Carnegie Hall with an unnamed date on December 24, 1997. During the opera, the main actress on stage named Melissa Pearce locks eyes with Aya and suddenly, the audience and cast spontaneously combust, except for Aya, her date, and Melissa. What happens next? Play and find out.
Maniac Mansion - NES or ScummVM (also remade on android)
(this guy is just way too cool to care about exploring this bloody house)
For those of you interested in what the heck ScummVM is or if you are wondering why ScummVM is a popular emulator on the Raspberry Pi RetroEvolved consoles (or RetroPie) - ScummVM is a point and click adventure game emulator which supports most of the great classics. As it turns out, "Scumm" actually stands for Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion so this game was behind the revolutionary code that became ScummVM.
The DOS version of Maniac Mansion came in two variations, a 16 color EGA version and an "enhanced version" with higher resolution EGA graphics.
The Nintendo Entertainment System version featured additional music for cut-scenes and themes for each playable character. It also contained many changes from the original due to standards and practices at Nintendo, such as the removal of the statue on the second floor and the changing of several words Nintendo found inappropriate. The Famicom version of Maniac Mansion, released exclusively in Japan did not use the SCUMM engine.
We recommend getting your hands on the NES version for the ease of emulation and updated cut scenes if you are okay with having the adult language toned down. If not, this game is an excellent excuse to introduce yourself to the ScummVM emulator, just download the DOS, Amiga, Apple II rom, ensure it is in a folder called "maniac" and open the emulator! For a full list of compatable games on ScummVM check out this list here: http://www.scummvm.org/compatibility/
I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream - ScummVM (also remade on android)
If nothing less, this is certainly the game with the scariest title of the entire list. This game is about an advanced Artificial Intelligence from the future that somehow manages to destroy society and imprisons and tortures the last remaining human beings so they never forget what they did to deserve this. (What did they do?) Another ScummVM or DOSBox emulated game, the game itself has you solving many puzzles in the same vein as most point and click adventures, however it has some quite dark and creepy themes which expose the worst (and best) of the human character. Definitely worth checking out.
Shadow of the Comet - DOS (Old PC)
The year is 1910. The small fishing port of Illsmouth is a sleepy New England town where time seems to stand still. Appearances can be very deceiving, however... Beneath the peaceful tranquility, a horrifying truth lingers. Now young astronomer John T. Carter must determine if there is a link between the return of Halley's comet and the resurgence of the Great Ancients who once dominated the land in a reign of terror.
Prisoner of Ice - DOS (Old PC)
Amid an atmosphere of suspense and intrigue you’ll launch your voyage in the icy cold wastelands of the Antarctic aboard a Royal Navy submarine – the H.M.S. Victoria. As an American agent of the Office of Naval Intelligence, your mission is to thwart a Nazi plot and recover top secret cargo. Horrific creatures capable of shifting the balance of world power must be conquered. World War II looms ahead and your every move could change the course of history.
Dark Seed I & II - DOS & Amiga
the game may be written off as dated or tedious, but the game definitely holds some disturbing scares for those willing to get through the slow opening. Creatures stalk the player, and the otherworld is truly eerie, making Dark Seed one of the most atmospheric horror titles on this list. A unique blend of unsettling hand-drawn art and live action character art sets the graphics far ahead of it's time. The games still look good to this day and although they can be frustrating at times (like all point and click games there are puzzles which may have you looking up walkthroughs) they create a creepy and unsettling atmosphere which will leave you feeling nervous after you stop playing.
Sweet Home - NES (Nintendo Entertainment System)
Originally a Japanese exclusive, this is the early inspiration of the Resident Evil series. If you can get over the somewhat awful introduction soundtrack and lack of telling you what to do or how to do it long enough to make it out of the first room, you'll find a very good survival horror experience, limited by tedious controls and a tendency to make you endlessly guess and check to solve puzzles.
Harvester - DOS (Old PC)
**NSFW SCREENSHOT INBOUND**
If you can manage to find a download for this obscure release, you will have found one of the most bloody, gory and adult retro horror games ever made. Certainly the most Adult themed DOS game on this list, harvester was ahead of it's time thanks to the live action elements (you control real recordings of actors instead of computer generated characters)
Resident Evil 0 & 2 - Nintendo64 & Playstation 1 (Also PC Remake)
Splatterhouse Series - Sega Genesis & PCEngine
"Splatterhouse 2 was a hack 'n' slash hit last year. Naturally, Namco's following up its success with a sequel, Splatterhouse 3. It rarely gets bloodier than this -- and that's one reason why this sequel will be so popular. Splatterhouse 3's got a high 'gross out' factor and lots of not-so-clean fun. Just like any good horror movie, there are enough thrills and chills here to keep you riveted to your seat. This game is good to the last splat." - Gamepro July 1993
DOOM - DOS but ported to just about every console ever
The original DOOM gave rise to a countless generation of mostly sh**ty games we now call First Person Shooters. While it's not the scariest game on this list, the claustrophobic hallways packed with demons will have you feeling a bit tense while you're looking for that key you missed and suddenly you turn a corner to find another creepy pixelated demon after you just finished clearing that room...
Night Trap - Sega CD
In this game your goal is to protect a family of people from invading.....vampires? Aliens? Ninjas? We're not really sure. Though not terrifying, it is one of the most interesting games on this list because not only is the entire game made from live-recordings of actors, but it was so controversial on release that no further copies were printed after the initial printing. Luckily we have the internet and can reexperience this intriguing title again! (prepare to laugh your *** off at the sega genesis intro scene where they hand you the controller)
Clock Tower - Playstation 1
The direct sequel to the SNES gem "Clock Tower" (sometimes called "the first fear"). Don't be confused by the SNES remake which was released on the Playstation called the First Fear, the game titled, simply, "Clock Tower" is the 2nd game in the series and should be played after beating the SNES version.
This game series in general seriously deserves some more attention. Not only is it one of the best titles on this list in terms of creating a slowly-building atmospheric horror that doesn't rely merely on cheap jumpscares but dark foreboding tension, but it looks like it could have been produced last week by an indie development team. Try it out.
Silent Hill - Playstation 1 (also remade on PC)
Duh. If you haven't heard of this series yet, it's time to stop living under a rock and start hiding under one while you play this game.
Nightmare Creatures - Nintendo 64 (also PS1)
Seriously, do you know how difficult it is to find a horror game on the N64? This game barely makes our list and we would not really call it "top 40" but we felt it necessary to include at least ONE N64 title on this list (not counting the Resident Evil ports on N64 which do not work very well)
Anchorhead - DOS (Also playable in your web browser)
A game that forces you to use your imagination. Though this game seriously needs a soundtrack and some sound effects to live up to it's full potential, it is still quite an unnerving experience if you play it alone with no background noise.
Realms of the Haunting - DOS
A seriously creepy first person shooter that rivals DOOM in it's delivery, however unlike DOOM it is driven by a story and features many puzzles and atmospheric scares to keep you on your toes.
Koudelka - Playstation 1
Precursor to the more well known Shadow Hearts series, Koudelka is like Resident Evil meets Final Fantasy. Featuring an engrossing story that convinces you to overlook the game's flaws long enough to beat it. You may want to break out the cheats on this one to disable some of the ranom encounters, but some of the fights are interesting and some creature designs are quite nasty. It may be far from a perfect gaming experience - but it is worth the gamble for curious adventurers in search of a mature adventure.
D - Sega Saturn& Playstation 1
Her worst fears have come true: Laura receives a phone call, telling her that her father has gone berserk and has embarked on a killing spree in a Los Angeles area hospital. After arriving at the hospital, she finds the police are clueless about what triggered the events inside. Hoping Laura will be able to untangle the mystery, they ask her to go in and find out what happened. Upon entering the building, Laura is sucked into another dimension where the hospital is turned into a mansion.
Enemy Zero - Sega Saturn
Basically a retro horror version of Alien: Isolation. You wake up on a spaceship with memory loss only to discover an empty, bloody ship awaits you. It uses a Point and Click style interface like D which creates a lot of that tension since you have limited control of your character yet must outrun alien creatures with only a pinging radar to tell you how close they are to you.
So what do you think? Did we turn you on to some new incredible games or what? Did we miss anything? Please comment below if you feel we left out any important games so we can add them to this list and help everyone find the best games this Halloween!
All of these games are playable on any RetroGame.Club console you buy so if you have one of our consoles, you owe it to yourself to make a collection of these games! You can also download our new RetroEvolved software to play these titles if you'd rather build your own console for FREE! Download here: https://RetroGame.Club/pages/DIY-RetroEvolved