The Ultimate Haunted House from the Microsoft Home series was one package I was glad to get out of alive! Designed by Gahan Wilson, America's master of the macabre, it is a game for 8 to 12 year olds. A multimedia creation that has truly captured the intrigue of an eerie dwelling frequented by malevolent spirits, spooks, long-legged beasties and things that interact with you through the marvels of state-of-the-art technology.
The goal is to locate the 13 missing keys, by visiting 13 mysterious rooms throughout this 3-storey haunted house. All this must be done before the clock reaches 13 o'clock, its poignant chime constantly reminding you that you are working against time, adding excitement and intensity to the game.
After an initial tour of the house accompanied by the musical backing of the 'Monster Mash' you are transported to the foyer. This is the location where the key rack is kept and you can receive help from the telephone hot-line. Flames in the fireplace set the mood, and the number of ghosts that peer through the windows indicate how many strange creatures inhabit the house.
You are given a carpetbag containing various objects from which, upon your encounters with this house's unsavory characters, you are encouraged to give items away in the hope of receiving a key. Sometimes they take things from you, but the philosophy of giving something away and receiving something back is most rewarding. The player is encouraged to explore and delve into the mysteries and horrors of the house. The more you interact with your spooky surroundings the greater the rewards. At different locations you will meet with weird characters and even create a monster of your own design at the Monster Lab. There's plenty for the young adventurer to do, collect and see, and because the house is haunted the game never plays the same, so children will be able to play it over and over again, never knowing what gruesome, ghastly exploits may befall them.
This game is just for fun and entertainment and is not advertised as anything else, although it does challenge the player to use logic to work out ways of escaping in the set time frame.
Reward for your efforts
If you find the 13 keys before the clock strikes 13 o'clock you will be rewarded by earning a cartoon, a sound, or a screen saver that can be exported to your hard disk.
The installation was easy and instructions for this package are very good. By clicking on the help button a spooky guide appears and gives you an entertaining explanation of each object located in the foyer as it is selected.
The music and sounds throughout are exceptional and the quality of the production is excellent interactive multimedia. However, the Monster Movie trailers which are shown in the screening room may well frighten younger children and keep them awake at night. They did me!
You have been locked in the haunted house and you have 13 hours to escape, and the only way you can escape, is by collecting all 13 keys. Or you will be trapped in the house forever.
You must explore all the rooms and meet monsters and give them 1 of 50 items, in exchange for them to leave you alone.
Explore the house and have fun in the games room, but make sure no monsters catch up with you and give you curses. There are lots of curses such as the color curse where all the colors get mixed up, the objects curse where you can't pick up any objects.
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