Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Laser Ghost! (May Not Contain Ghosts or Lasers)

There was a game called Laser Ghost. It came out in 1989 for the Sega Master System. The box art looked like this:

I don’t know what the title Laser Ghost is supposed to make me think of, exactly, aside from maybe a modern-day electroclash band that I wouldn’t like, but this box art represents none of the qualities I’d associate with either lasers or ghosts. Based on the title, I’d hope for some kickass fusion of scifi and horror. Instead, the box art offers me no explicit ghosts but only rather benign-looking floating skulls, a paintin’ with movin’ eyeballs, and hanged man and a monster car. No wonder that little blonde girl torched the place: Blatant false advertising pisses me off to the point of arson too.

 From reading the entry on Wikipedia, I know that Laser Ghost is actually a shooting game in which the player fires an NES Zapper-like light gun at monsters on screen. (I also know that the game’s plot involves the protagonist girl fighting her way out of the pits of hell in order to reclaim her soul. Again, not really what the box art would make you expect. And sort of like Poltergeist re-envisioned though pixels and from the perspective of Heather O’Roarke’s character.) Even the actually gameplay doesn’t come close to matching what I thought the game would have been like. Instead, it’s simultaneously darker and more lighthearted.

From the original arcade version:


And the Master System version, which was apparently made by people who hadn’t played the arcade version and instead just pieced it together from an explanation they heard while drunk:


Honestly, I’m a little taken with the box art, I realize now. Yes, that’s it. It’s not the art that’s wrong. It’s the title and the gameplay. Here, then, are titles that I feel would better fit the game depicted in the box art:

Quinceanera of the Damned 

What Happens to Little Girls Who Have Naughty Thoughts

Slightly Atypical Sleepover 

Don’t Piss Off Tiffany Henderson on Her Birthday 

Grandma’s House Is Weird Sometimes

Puberty: The Video Game 

Sandy Felt Responsible for Her Parents’ Divorce and Then Had a Weird Dream 

Now I want to play one of these games.

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