Fangs, but no fangs

Fright Night logo

CONTRARY to what you might believe, Fright Night isn't based on the film of the same name, though it claims to be. It is instead an allegorical interpretation of Britain today.
Primarily, you must wander around a superficially well-decorated house, draining the life force from all its inhabitants, while at the same time fending off the protestations of previous victims.

No, no, this has nothing to do with vampires at all. It's all a very clever piece of subversion from those chappies in Cornwall, who would have you believe that Fright Night is an adaptation of the RCA-Columbia film and that if you love being scared, then this'll be the game of your life.

Yes, well, not really. I don't recall the hero of the film being a vampire, do you? More a frightened young lad trying to convince the dopey porkers that the next door is a vampire. Well that goes out of the window, and how on earth you're meant to be scared when it's you who is doing the nibbling, I don't know. I wonder whether the programmers have seen the film.

Anyway, once you get past an excellent title screen and some brilliant sound effects - pump this through your hi-fi and turn the lights down - you find yourself emerging from a hard day's sleep and your nice warm coffin.

You are Jerry Dandridge and you've got just 12 hours to suck the blood from everyone in your house. An icon down on the left in the shape of the moon slowly fading from night marks the passage of time, while a picture of yourself indicates your current health.

On encountering something detrimental to your death force, such as a Bible or a cross, layers of skin peel from Jerry's mug - they have the same effect on me, strangely enough - which wasn't pretty in the first place. The third icon indicates the strength of your dinner's faith, and correspondingly the amount of harm said believer can inflict when they get the holy water out.

Jerry is superbly portrayed on screen in what is basically an arcade adventure with re-drawn screens. He is large, well animated and crouches and leaps quickly for someone who looks so ill. Unfortunately as soon as any other sprites appear on screen, everything starts to judder and slow down. Considering there's no scrolling, this is ridiculous.

On Monday, the first day of your adventures in Vampire Land, there are only two victims to bite and nothing to hinder the procedure. If you're squeemish look away, because as Jerry bites the blood spurts.
From then on you get progressively more victims to bite and more ghosts of past victims to chase you - the topless green woman is rather tacky, Mr Lyons - and inflict damage, plus more rooms to your house. Obviously some is a dab hand at DIY, because whole new floors are being put in every day.

That's all there is to Fright Night. The graphics are excellent and the SFX are nothing short of brilliant - I love the slurping noise when you bite someone, which restores your health incidentally - but the gameplay is very, very shallow. It's also extremely difficult to get past Tuesday.

Fright Night logo


This long-awaited creation by Steve Bak sees you in the role of Jerry Dandridge from the hugely popular horror movie of the same name. You are one of the undead trying to stay that way- which makes a change from the usual game. Okay, so Mrs Thatcher has been undead for years but who said Jerry was unique?


Your house has been infested with do-gooders who are trying to make your death a misery by tossing all sorts of objects at you to disturb your progress. The idea is that you have to run around your house, sinking your teeth into the jugular vein of any do-gooders you come across. These include everyone from a wrinkled old man to a scantily-clad female and drawing their blood simply involves directing dear old Jerry up to them while avoiding the crucifixes that they throw at you.


The game is one of the "walk-through levels" breed where you step into a room and then either take a trip up the stairs or move onto the next screen. When you move from room to room the screen fades to black and then reappears with you in the next location. This effect takes place quickly enough to prevent it from being distracting.

After eating everyone on a particular level you must then return to your coffin for regeneration. You can return there at any point in the game if your health is suffering and you want to recover, but regeneration will take some time if you do it this way. The best method of improving your health is to do a spot of blood sucking since this causes you to rejuvenate instantly. If you thought all of this sounds a little too easy then a few additional elements have been added to change all that. You have to get back to your coffin before the sun comes up.

Additionally, as you progress then you meet a range of unhealthy creatures with the singular objective of sapping your health at a phenomenal rate. It is impossible to kill them so the only course of action is to dodge these unfortunate monstrosities.


If there is one area that Fright Night reall excels in then it is the graphics and sound. The opening screen, traditionally more impressive than the actual game, boasts a stunning digitised picture taken from the Fright Night film but the magic of this screen is carried through to the rest of the game. Giant, smoothly animated sprites make up the action. Good old Jerry has a face like a deep-fat fried hamster but that all goes to make up the atmosphere. The other characters and a set of clutching hands which erupt through the floor boards have been well-defined and boast a range of great colours.

Aside from the crystal-clear sound of sampled speech during the opening of the game, there is a selection of other sampled music to accompany the entire playing time. These include such musical extravaganzas as the death march and an eerie rendition of There's No Place Like Home as well as the occasional burping after a bout of blood-sucking.


Despite the truly astonishing visuals and a soundtrack that just leaves everything else standing, Fright Night lacks the sort of depth to make it addictive for any long periods of time. With the sole object being to suck the blood of all the humans and avoid all the attention from the monsters, it is not really the sort of thing likely to tax your brain too much. However, it is unusual take on the role of the bad guy, and with the sort of visual treat on offer it is certain to be a hit.

Fright Night logo

Price: £19.95

Gerry Dandridge moved into a quiet neighbourhood so he could get a good days sleep. The nightshift can be tough, but his neighbours just won't let him rest (not that Gerry really wants to rest in peace). He cannot understand why they are bothering him: he is just a regular all-American guy. He does not like foreign food - especially with garlic - and he likes his stake rare - as rarely as possible. (That's enough vampire puns - Ed.).

Frightnight is one of the best dressed games I have seen for a while. The backgrounds drawn by Steve Bak are particularly nice, although I think Gerry's taste in decor leaves a little to be desired. Habitat obviously has not reached Transylvania yet. Each of the screens are packed with delightful little details. Eerie portraits, bubbling test tubes and grotesque gargoyles are all lovingly crafted and colourfully drawn to create a spectacular setting. This works a treat.

In contrast, the idea behind the game could not be more simple. Your nosy neighbours may be a pain, but they are also a fresh supply of blood. If they do not want to donate, then you will just have to bleed them dry anyway. The trouble is, though, if you let them cross you, your future will look distinctly un-rosary. Aaargh!

That was a close one. I nearly lost control completely there. So, there is nothing more for Gerry to do other than to wander around the house looking for victims. When you find a likely looking one and have sidled alongside him, you will find yourself flung into a pounce and giving him a lovebite he will never forget. Thwarting your progress are the things they will throw at you (bibles, holy water, the usual stuff), ghosts which pursue you and hands of ectoplasm that pop up through the floorboards. It is not particularly easy to survive for any length of time, but there is not a lot of skill involved in it either. The best you can do is to remember the most direct path between each snack and to spend as little time as possible on the more awkward screens.

There is not a lot of point taking Frightnight seriously. Microdeal seemed to have expended all their energy on creating impressive sound and graphics, leaving the gameplay to take a definite back seat. My advice is to sit back and enjoy the show. For instance, every time you finish draining the blood of another hapless intruder, Gerry turns to give you a wicked toothy grin and to let out a huge vampiric belch. Beyond this level of mild amusement, there is not a lot else to the game. A shame really, because a lot of effort has obviously been put into creating it and, because of its over-simplicity, I do not think I will be booting it up very often.

The music certainly deserves an honourable mention. The original score with its howling wolves and other little bits enhances the atmosphere enormously, but the really nice touches are the snippets of 'The Death March' that are thrown in from time to time and the playing of 'There Is No Place Like Home' every time you return to the screen with your coffin in. Frightnight is a laugh, but don't expect it to keep you up all night.