Monday, October 20, 2014

Hugo's House of Horrors - Haunted House of DOS

Back in the early 90's my Dad got our first IBM PC Compatible and a whole new world opened up to me.  One of the earliest games I remember playing was Hugo's House of Horrors, an adventure game utilizing a combination of keyboard controls and text input.  So basically you would control Hugo's movements using the arrow keys and then you would type in simple commands such as "Look at the door" or "Tell Igor to press button".  

Hugo's House of Horrors is a simplistic game that takes only about 15 to 20 minutes to complete if you know what you're doing.  That's the operative phrase, however....IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING!  

Much like many adventure games of the 80's and 90's it was sometimes extremely difficult to figure out what to do next.  This was back before there was a walkthrough available online for every game known to man.  For a good part of my younger teenage years I was stuck at a certain point and I could not figure out how to proceed.  This was largely in part to slightly wonky controls and the fact that there are several points in the game that a point of no return so to speak.  If you don't save your game before you try certain parts and screw them up, there's no way to move forward.  I hate that and I think it's a cheap way to make you start all over.  

Okay that's enough backstory, I'm sure you're here because you want to hear about the game itself!  Hugo's girlfriend, Penelope has been kidnapped by a mad scientist and is being held captive in a spooky old house.  It's up to you and Hugo to make your way through the house, solve it's puzzles and save your girl.

Looks like a nice place......*GULP*

....yeah.....I get the feeling this isn't going to end well....

The house is populated by the mad scientists, a dining room full of monsters having a dinner party and one very mean dog!  Your adventure will take you underneath the house as well, which is where things will REALLY start to get difficult for you!

The game starts you off just outside the house.  The door is locked and you must find a way in.  A good many of the puzzles are either logic based or just a matter of looking around.  In this case, there is a jack o'lantern sitting on the front porch if you break it open, you'll find a key inside.  Fairly easy stuff.  

Once inside you'll find yourself in the main foyer.  You can either go upstairs and explore the rooms up there or you can explore the rooms downstairs.....when you're playing for the first time you are more than likely going to check out the first floor.  Makes sense right?  Why would anything deadly be in the immediate area when you first start playing?  Well, I'll tell you what....if you walk into the room immediately to the left you'll find an entire room full of monsters having a dinner party.  Guess what?  Now you're the main course.  The end.

 It's a monster dinner party!  Swell!  Anybody wanna do the Time Warp?

Yep, you even get to visit the haunted house's shed! Ooooh!

After cheap death number one, you're back outside and starting again.  You decide to trying the other room down stairs.  Turns out it's a kitchen.  Nothing to see's your standard kitchen...although it IS a ghastly green color that will make you question the owner's interior decorating skills.  Say, what's in that room to the left of the kitchen?  You walk in and........are immediately eaten by a dog.  Son of a bitch.

Cheap death #2 and you're back in front of the house.  Hopefully by now you've learned to save your progress before venturing into any new rooms.  Yes, it's tedious, but it sure beats starting over every damn time you take two steps in the wrong direction!  I'm not going to run through the entire game here, I just wanted to give you an idea of how the game works and give you a feeling for the frustration level that will inevitably occur as you play.

Now don't get me wrong, it's a fun game and it's a good time going through the house and trying to solve the puzzles....but just remember that back in the day these games were made by a small staff of programmers....sometimes only one.....and what makes perfect sense to them as a puzzle may have you scratching your head for hours, days, weeks or in my case a few years!  Although in my case it wasn't so much a puzzle that did me in as the wording that was expected to be used.  That will get ya sometimes be sure to CAREFULLY read every bit of text the game throws at ya!  

This guy is really wrapped up in himself........

This is what happened to Karnov when he got old and found he couldn't retire:  Henchman Duty.

After you manage to make your way through the house, you end up in the basement and then into conjoining caves full of bats and another one with a mummy in it!  Things get even more bizarre from there. 

The graphics are simple DOS 8-Bit style graphics but they are charming and do a good job of evoking a spooky fun Halloween vibe.  There are some fun monsters to check out and some fun environments to "sort-of" explore.  If you like adventure games of this ilk, then you'll dig Hugo's House of Horrors.  I would recommend it to anyone looking for some retro Halloween fun on their PC.  If I'm not mistaken, the game is available as Abandoneware through several fire up your DOSBox emulator and get in the house to save Penelope!

I should also mention that there were two sequels to Hugo's House of Horrors:  Hugo II:  Whodunit and Hugo III:  Jungle of Doom.  Just as they sound, the second is a murder mystery and the third is a jungle adventure.  I do believe these are also available on Abandonware sites, so if you dig the first one you may want to take a look at the other two!

If you should want to see the full game without having to go through the motions of playing yourself, I went ahead and included a video of the full playthrough.  It only lasts about sixteen minutes so it's a good way to see the full game.  I did all the hard work so you don't have to!  Enjoy!


  1. You probably covered this in the previous gaming posts, but the other three games are the real deal, right? Not emulation? These gaming posts are really a lot of fun.

  2. Actually, I use emulators for all classic game reviews that I'm doing here.....which allows me to capture video and screen shots with ease. I do own the Friday the 13th game for the Commodore 64 (locked away somewhere in a dusty old box in my parent's basement, no doubt) however, I do not own physical copies of Halloween or TCM Atari games. Those will run you about $275 for a loose cartridge on E-bay usually.

    While I don't advocate piracy, emulators and video game ROMS are a somewhat grey area. A lot of these games have expired copyrights and a good many of them are abandoneware and still even more are public domain. (At least in the case of Commodore 64, Apple II, Atari 400, Atari 800 and DOS Games) I own(ed) a good many games for these systems back in the day and they are all hiding in various boxes (along with the F13 game).

    Having said all that, I am having a lot of fun revisiting old games that time forgot and shining a light on them! I do believe that I am going to make horror video gaming a constant part of Midnight Cinephile from here on's been getting a great response!

  3. I'm glad I stumbled across this site, it brings back many fond memories. I'm glad there are people out there like me that want to keep the thrill alive. Thanks for doing what you do.

  4. Thanks for reading! I always love to hear from the folks that visit Midnight Cinephile. If there's anything you'd like to see covered, drop me a line!