Sunday, July 13, 2008

You Are Count Dracula!

You are, that is, when playing Dracula (1983), a game developed by Imagic for the Intellivision game console.

While not the first videogame to have a scary premise, nor even the first game to feature the character of Dracula, this was (according to Electronic Games magazine) the first game in which the player was able to step into Dracula's shoes.

All Intellivision games came with printed controller overlays, such as this one.

As the game starts, dusk turns to night, and in what passed for an animated cut-scene back in the 8-bit days, Dracula rises from his grave, transforms into a bat, and flies to the graveyard entrance before switching back to vampire form.

Dracula is now free to roam the dark street, occassionally illuminated by flashes of lightning. Victims can be found jogging down the street, or hiding in their homes (you'll see a pair of tell-tale eyes in the upstairs window.)

Dracula coming up on an unsuspecting jogger.

Dracula takes a bite and misses (notice his open mouth). Lucky jogger.

Approach the front door and Dracula knocks. Sometimes a frightened person darts out into the street to become the next victim. But if you've already killed within sight of the house, the frightened resident won't answer the door and you'll have to move on.

This concept art that went out to media hints at a more elaborate experience. You never enter anyone's house in the actual game.

A policeman is on the beat, lobbing stakes at you. A hit freezes Dracula temporarily, causing you to lose precious seconds.

[insert lame pun about stakes giving Dracula heartburn here]

Dracula can turn into a bat to avoid the policeman's stakes and move more rapidly, but you can't attack while in bat form, and a pesky vulture sometimes swoops down and drags you off the screen, ending the game.

That pink blob is a vulture. You try to draw a vulture with only 4K of RAM!

After biting enough victims, a white wolf comes charging at you on your way back to the graveyard. You must be back in your coffin before the sun rises or the game is over.

Dracula transforms into a bat in a race to the graveyard as night turns to dawn.

With games like Silent Hill, Resident Evil and Fatal Frame delivering atmosphere and scares besting those in a Hollywood movie, its hard to appreciate the magic that Dracula had back in 1983.
But if you'd like, you can recreate that magic today on your PC. It's available on a legal and licensed emulation collection called Intellivision Rocks, sold at the Intellivision Lives website.

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