Pixel Memory is a semi-regular feature where we’ll will talk about an old game that we think deserves a little more coverage.
Keep saying it to yourself; ‘POLTERGUY’. Just doesn’t stop being brilliant. Potentially the greatest video-game pun title ever. POLTERGUY. I love it.
Before we get talking about the game, let’s take a look at that cover.
Ignoring Polter’s Guile-esc haircut, or that fact that this 90’s skater dresses like the fucking Fonz and look at that pull quote:
‘The best programmed game since Ecco’
Ouch. That’s the best review the publisher could come up with, complimenting the code. Not the graphics, the gameplay or even the music, someone decided that the best way to sell this game was to mention that the code was impeccable. Imagine that nowdays, “Far Cry 3 – it didnt crash, 8.6/10″. Seems utterly bizarre in this world of multi layered, campaign led games advertising that this is how it was sold. It’s also odd considering this game was a lot of fun when my greasy hands first rented it back in 1993.
With my brain already corrupted after watching Robocop and Aliens at the tender age of 9 (…still can’t quite watch that ED209 boardroom scene without crying in fear…) the idea of making bleeding eyeballs appear from dartboards or making a chopped up corpse appear in the trunk of the family car really appealed to me. Did I mention you can make the family piss themselves out of fear if you bombard them with supernatural activity? Here, I took a screenshot for you.
The game has a really sick sense of humour and it is without a doubt it’s best feature. Along with the urinating, it has an obsession with the characters becoming so scared that they drop their trousers.
Or lose all their clothes:
Or blow up their head:
Or scare a kid so much, he backs in to a corner, desperately covering his face from the untold horror and psychological scarring you’re submitting him to:
And it’s a good job the humour is here as the game-play gets stale real quick. I’d totally forgot about the whole Underworld section and for good reason: It’s dull as piss. You end up here if you run out of ectoplasm, hovering around dungeons building your ecto back up until you have enough to return to the surface. No possessing, no urinating family members. Just overly grabby hands, bats and steam pipes that can hurt you and eventually kill you…again. I get it, you gotta have a challenge, especially as the game would be over in about 5 minutes otherwise, but it doesn’t make it any less boring to play.
The family dog being able to spot you is a nice touch though. When he spots you, he barks reducing your ecto and oddly, the family’s scare level (which doesn’t make sense because if my dog started barking randomly at an empty corner, I’d run the fuck out my house real quick).
But hey, lets not get all heavy on this and slip those rose-tinted glasses back on. The possession stuff is a lot of fun and the graphics are great for the time and importantly in an age dominated with so-so platform games (fuck you, Bubsy you sweater wearing, horses-arse), it was genuinely trying something a little different.
Last note: whats with this family? They just wonder around totally separate rooms in their massive houses, never talking to each other…only together when they flee in terror to a new house. Such bad family values. If they spent some time together and became better people, maybe they wouldn’t be a target for a 50’s throw back-skater punk ghost with 90’s ATTITUDE then.
Played for various amounts of time over the past 21 years. For this post, I played on a ROM as I couldn’t be arsed to go up in the attic and get my cartridge.
Oh and most of the images were taken from around the internet as I forgot to grab any whilst playing…thanks x