Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Halls of the Things

I can remember sitting at my family's Commodore 64 for hours on end, playing every game I could get my hands on, back in the day. Back then we didn't have IGN, there was no G4 and no trailers for games like we have now. Sure there was the occasional TV add for a game....but for the most part you had to rely almost completely on the game's box art and blurb on the back, or a small blurb about the game from a mail order section in the back of a computing magazine (such as Compute's Gazzette or ZZAP!). I can remember perusing through these mail order sections in magazines and making lists of games I wanted to play, based simply off of the game's title, the short blurb and a fuzzy black and white scan of the box art.

One such game that had captured my imagination was Halls of the Things.  Being a monster movie freak, I was totally intrigued by the description for the game:  Seven Magical Rings are hidden amongst the seven floors of a tower, where an escape key lies.  Of course all the levels are crawling with the evil blood-thirsty Things!  Mwaaa-huaaa-huaaa!

The praise for this game was immense in 1983 when the game launched on the Spectrum ZX system.  In 1984 it was ported to the Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC.  It was hailed as a new breed of game.  A graphical adventure of epic proportions, perfect for those gamers who stay up till 4am giving it just one more go.  Here are some of the adverts that appeared in UK magazines from '83/'84:

I wanted to play this game in the worst way when I was kid.  My imagination ran wild!  What could these Things be?  What were they after?  What Master did they serve?  Well, I never got to play that game as a kid.  Only recently have I had the chance to sit down and play this on a Commodore 64 emulator.  So was the 20 some-odd year wait worth it?  Meh. 

It's not a bad game by any means, but it's really hard to rate a game that is 28 years old!  It plays well and it is fun, but it's really hard to imagine that Halls of the Things really set the gaming world on fire back in '83.  Would I recommend it to retro game hounds?  Absolutely!  I've been having fun with it. 

It got a great review from Zzapp! Magazine in the UK....which I will add here for your enjoyment.  So if you've got a few hours to kill and you're in the mood for some retro dungeon crawlin' and monster slaying then check out Halls of the Things!


  1. > but it's really hard to imagine that Halls
    > of the Things really set the gaming world
    > on fire back in '83.

    Well, it did. It did a number of things for the first time ever. It was the first game where objects that weren't visible on screen still existed, for a start, something that we'd take for granted now but which was unique then. It also generated different games every time it was played and gave the monsters pretty much the same weaponry as the player. They could also use the magic in the maze to heal themselves, and so on. It was more of a simulation than any game before it or for some time after it...

    In an age where many/most games were written in basic it was also graphically impressive, moving 32 monsters and 32 projectiles at a fair speed, but what made it all work was the gameplay. It was nicely balanced.

  2. That is very true. I really wish that I had been able to play the game back when it was released to have a better feel for it. The more that I've played HotT, the more I've been falling in love with it!

    Thanks for weighing in on the subject! I'm glad that there's someone out there reading! :)

  3. I played it too!!! On the ZX Spectrum. Hours in my bedroom, late into the night, till I finally finished it. Trying to explain to my son (XBox 360 Online etc) just how thrilling and difficult it was. I've moved on to bigger things, but maybe not better. A classic game. What else should I have been doing when I was sixteen?