Sorry for the cheesy title. I have this stuck in my head today.
It wasn’t until much later in life that I learned my early taste in NES games is actually pretty crappy by most gamers’ standards. A lot of the old NES games I enjoyed and once counted among my favorite titles aren’t very well-known, well-received, or popular.
One such game is Dr. Chaos.
But let’s forget, for a moment, that it’s a shitty game and focus instead on this sweet box art. This has to be one of the most gruesome Nintendo game covers ever:
I mean, the dude is kneeling in a pool of blood while a winged skeletal creature looms over him with massive, bony claws. It’s the reason I wanted to play the game in the first place. There was this boy Jeff who lived down the street from me and had way more Nintendo games than I did because his dad was loaded—so naturally I hung out at his house all the time. He hated this game but I used to go over there and demand he let me play it. I was bigger than him. I could have kicked his ass.
Anyway, so yeah—Dr. Chaos. What a weird little game. Check out the description on the back of the box:
To this day I don’t know what “thriller graphics” means, but they’re not nearly as bitchin’ as they sound. And sadly, they have nothing to do with Michael Jackson.
As you can guess from the title screen below, Dr. Chaos is a haunted house game.
That right there is reason enough for me to like it as much as I do. I’ve had a love for haunted house-themed video games ever since Atari’s rather unimaginatively named Haunted House. Give me more games like Maniac Mansion and Alone in the Dark please.
Dr. Chaos’s gameplay is an odd mix of side-scrolling platforming and first-person room exploration. You start off in platform mode as you make your way through the house’s halls, fighting monsters and using weapons. But then there’s rooms you need to enter, which is where the game switches over to first-person exploration mode and the interface changes to resemble a point-and-click adventure game.
Once inside the rooms, you have to open doors, look inside cabinets, and hit walls to find these dimensional portals that warp you to the bosses. You’re trying to collect pieces of an interdimensional Warpgate that Dr. Chaos–who happens to be your idiot older brother–invented. Here’s a little bit of pointless but hilarious backstory from the pages of Dr. Chaos’s diary, taken from the game’s manual:
“I made a great mistake. I overlooked the effect of warp zones on living organisms. It was too late when I realized this. The living things in the warp zone had grown so big that they began to take over my house. The warp zone can swallow you up at any time. Open one of the doors to the warp zone and you will be attacked by these monsters. I have been trying to invent machines to stop the monsters but I am not sure if I still have time. My brother Michael, if you happen to read this diary, you are the only one who can stop the situation!”
I don’t suppose it ever occurred to Dr. Chaos to just move out?
Oh well. The game had some pretty cool music and a sweet title screen, which you can check out in this play-through video by CornshaqGaming: