Once again, it’s that spooky time of the year and, with the Halloween vibes ever so close, what better moment to talk about some good ol’ creepy games? In today’s article on Getting Good, we’re going to discuss a game that you probably haven’t heard about; a title that goes by the name of Nightmare in the Dark.
Released in 2000 by Gavaking, this obscure title surfaced in a time where these type of platformer arena games were phasing out and giving way to other games with more “modern” gameplay. In a sense, you could say that Nightmare in the Dark is homage to those old-school titles where the gameplay was as easy as ever to pick up, but tough as nails to master. Furthermore, in true arcade game fashion, the idea was to complete all the stages while also collecting as many points as possible. In this regard, Nightmare in the Dark feels like a classic car that’s been given a modern paint job.
The objective of this arcade game is to control your character, a gravekeeper, and fend off the spooky nasties that come to ransack the graveyard. To this end, you must use your magic lantern to turn enemies into fireballs, and throw them at their cohorts to destroy all who dare enter your domain. The game is divided into 5 chapters, with 5 stages each. Each stage ends when all enemies are defeated, after which the player is rewarded with points, powerups, and sometimes extra lives. In this fifth stage of every chapter, the player must defeat a boss enemy in order to continue.
The player can either walk, jump, or throw fireballs from their lantern, actions which are bound to the only three buttons on the panel. Furthermore, after clearing every stage, the layout and enemies change, getting progressively more complex and more difficult, respectively. Here is a list of foes that you’ll encounter during your game:
- Zombies: Your standard enemy, they slowly shamble around and drop from ledges when they reach the edge. They can also jump onto ledges so keep this in mind so you don’t get swarmed when there are several of these on the screen.
- Mummies: Similar to zombies in terms of movement, though mummies are a bit tougher to turn into fireballs.
- Hunchbacks: These little nuisances are faster than the zombies and mummies, and much smaller, making them a tougher target to hit. Don’t let them back you into a corner or you’ll surely lose a life.
- Fancy Hunchbacks: Similar to the previous enemies, but wearing a nice suit and a top hat. They’re somewhat faster than their counterparts, as well as take more hits to turn into fireballs.
- Ostriches: These are the fastest enemies in the game. Luckily, they’re also large and make for a big target. While they walk pretty slow when uninterrupted, they’ll immediately charge towards you if you’re on the same level as them. Don’t let their speed catch you off guard; if you need a breather, just attack them once and run past them while they’re stunned by the burning.
- Skeletons: They’re functionally similar to zombies and mummies, but are even bigger. They take more hits to turn into fireballs, but die just as easily when you throw a fireball at them.
- Ghosts: Possibly the slowest enemies in the game, though they ignore the terrain and float directly towards you. Whenever there are multiple of these onscreen, try to drag them all to one side so you can dodge them easier while you attack the other enemies.
- Blobs: These nasty balls of muck can jump in all four directions; up, down, left, and right, and can lunge at your character. Don’t get too close if you don’t plan on attacking or else you’ll get rushed by these blobs.
- Thrower Zombies: We name them like this for lack of a better term. These guys don’t move very much, but they can rip off their arms (which grow back momentarily), and fling them at your character. Keep your distance!
The first chapter is more like a tutorial, with simple stages and basic enemies. It’s a great way for the player to “get their feet wet” with the concept. The only foes you’ll encounter here are zombies, mummies, and skeletons, all of which only shamble around and don’t directly attack you. Your best strategy for clearing these stages is to turn one or two enemies into fireballs, and throw them from the top of the stage. It’s likely that the careening balls of fire will bounce from the walls and destroy all enemies as they make their way downward.
Boss: Big Zombie
This boss is very easy and makes for a very large target while posing little threat. His only attack is pounding the ground on each side, which causes a pair of stone pillars to rise up, which also summons several zombies. He’s not fast at all so you can simply attack the zombies, turn them into fireballs, and fling them to the boss. Always try to stand on the ground floor; if you’re on a platform, he’ll try jumping at you, which is significantly more dangerous than his standard ground pound.
Getting tougher in both stage layout as well as enemies. The new enemies you’ll encounter here are the ostriches and the hunchbacks. They’re as easy to kill as the enemies you’ve been fighting so far, though they’re a lot faster. Don’t let them back you into a corner. And remember, always try to throw your fireballs from top to bottom so it can cause maximum damage on the way down.
Boss: Skeleton Chariot
This boss looks more intimidating than what it actually is. His only attacks consist of trying to run you over, though you can avoid it either by dropping to the lowest platform, or jumping in the hole on the ground, which will bring you all the way around to the top. To hurt the boss, you must wait till he summons his skeletons, and use them as fireballs to fight back.
This is where things start getting annoying. No longer can you easily avoid the ground enemies since you’ll now be assaulted by the pesky ghosts. These annoying foes can pass through platforms and slowly float towards you. Try luring them toward the bottom floor before heading up, turning another enemy into a fireball, and using them to destroy all ghosts in one fell swoop. After that, it’s only a matter of dealing with the remaining enemies, which should be fairly simple.
This is the first chaotic boss you’ll run across. The reason why they’re so dangerous is because they summon ghosts to aid them. Furthermore, since they also float, like the ghosts, there’s really no safe spots in this stage. They also summon an indestructible blue wisp of flame that chases you around the stage for a bit. These factors, combined with the fact that they can also summon virtually any other enemy in the game to assist them, make this into one of the most hectic battles in the games; sometimes even more chaotic than the final boss.
Keep calm, don’t let yourself get backed into a corner, and wait for the perfect moment to turn an enemy into a fireball. However, your priority is to stay safe at all times. In this sense, if you’re getting cornered, simply stun the enemies by hitting them once and run into a better position before attacking.
Chapters 4 and 5
By this point, you’ve already seen all the enemies in the game. The stages in these chapters are larger than ever and feature tons of enemies. Nevertheless, the same principles apply: Stay safe at all times, lure the ghosts to the bottom before engaging from the top, and throw fireballs from top to bottom whenever possible for maximum damage.
Boss: Skeleton Warrior
This guy is a pushover and doesn’t actually attack you himself. He regularly summons 4 ghosts to assist him, which turns out to be his downfall since you can just turn one of them into a powerful fireball and use it against the boss. Keep in mind, however, that he sometimes jumps around the arena. Luckily, there is always plenty of time to get out of the way.
The final boss of the game is more about memorizing patterns and being patient rather than going all out in the offense. This boss has 5 attacks, determined by the glyphs that light up when he draws his rune circle. To simplify describing the glyph patterns, we’re going to view the rune circle as if it were a clock. Depending on the pattern of glyphs that light up, he can use the following attacks:
- 12, 4 and 6: Summons 4 zombies on each corner platform.
- 12, 4, and 8: Summons 4 swords that float around you and lock on to your position after a few moments. Wait until they lock on before jumping or dropping out of the way to avoid getting stabbed.
- 12, 2, and 8: Similar to the first pattern, but summoning ghosts instead of zombies.
- 4, 6, and 10: Similar to the first pattern, but summoning fancy hunchbacks instead of zombies.
- 2, 6, and 10: Summons three lightning strikes directly on the character’s position. You can easily avoid this by staying on the move in one direction until the third lightning bolt strikes and the attack ends.
The boss is only vulnerable while the rune circle is on screen and after he has finished his casting animation. In this sense, your order of priorities should be to first identify the attack he’s using, followed by avoiding the said attack, and then hitting him with a fireball before he teleports away. The easiest pattern here is obviously the zombies since you can simply turn one into a fireball, hit the boss, and then deal with the other zombies while the boss is teleporting before casting his next spell.
After you have weakened him, he’ll start using his lightning bolts attack more frequently, which is easy to dodge as long as you keep the arena clear of enemies. However, he’ll also start to summon tougher enemies, such as fancy hunchbacks and ghosts, as he gets weaker. When he’s down to his last hit, an indestructible floating purple pumpkin will descend from the top of the screen. While the pumpkin is quite slow, it can get in the way of your escape route. However, the pumpkin is also a sign that the boss is almost dead, so keep your cool and land that final shot!
Thanks for reading! Here at PrimeTime Amusements, we like to keep ahead of the curve in arcade game rental and sales and pride ourselves in providing the best service in the country. If you’re looking for a game in particular, or have a few questions about the industry, feel free to give us a call at 1.800.550.0090 or to swing by at 5300 Powerline Rd. Suite 210, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, 33309.