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Game play consists of interacting with the a cast of ghoulish residents who populate the house and move about it, and in collecting and exchanging an inventory of items with them. All of the main characters, as well as the house itself, contain artificial personalities that react to the actions of the player; the moody characters and the opportunity to explore the house in any order creates near-infinite replayability. Dozens of activities and puzzles embedded in the game also have consequences. These activities include a monster assembly lab, monster movies in the screening room, cooking a concoction in the kitchen, composing an organ tune, and other traditional puzzle games adapted to the computer. The game contains many clever voices and the opening tune "Monster Mash".
The following is a block of promotion copy for the game:
Come join the cast of characters in Gahan Wilson's The Ultimate Haunted House. Enjoy wandering through the 13 mysterious rooms and participating in wacky activities. You will meet weird characters and maybe even make one yourself. Try baking with your favorite disgusting ingredients in the kitchen and visit the dancing cockroaches in the bathroom. Take a break and watch TV or one of the movies. But don't forget to find the 13 keys and escape... or you may be trapped in the house forever!
A cast of characters populate the house and make appearances throughout in the game. These include Frankenstein, a vampiress, a two-headed monster, a mad scientist, and a kid (transported there by the mad scientist's lab ray). Gahan Wilson is a ghost in the game, but there are two Gahans: one good, one evil, and deciphering which is which is one of the elements of game play. The thirteen rooms include a menagerie, kitchen, foyer, torture chamber, the monster lab, the screening room, the game room, a library, an attic, a bathroom, a basement hallway, a music room, and an art gallery. There are also a variety of monsters whose interaction with the player is limited to placing curses upon them.
These are the mobile inhabitants residing inside the house that the player can talk to and swap items with. Although nice to begin with—bad choices may lead to meeting all of them—none are to be completely trusted. Voiced by: Dennis Daniel
The house's deceased owner. Named after the game's conceptual artist. His first appearance is in the foyer as he gives you your mission. He may appear evil or good at times depending on the current affect "formula 429" has had on him. He wants the scroll of 13 o'clock really badly—but both Gahans have a different use for the item. If you get the scroll it is best to put it in the compacter to attract one of the Gahans, if the good Gahan comes then let him have it, if the bad Gahan comes then crush him, either way this will reduce the houses anger at you to zero. At the start of the game, Gahan opens with the following greeting:
A child transported into the house using the ray in the Monster Lab by Doctor Synthesis. Named after the game's publishing company's founder. He is a fragile child that does not want to see disgusting things or else he feels faint. You should not trust his hands with a dart—hurting himself in this manner may take away his innocent personality. He prefers toys and musical instruments to play with. It is lucky to have him around as he often warns you if a monster may shortly enter the room.
Countess Vena Cava
The vampiress resides inside the house to avoid the sun. Although, named after veins she strongly dislikes vain people—this is what causes her disliking of mirrors—so it is a bad idea to give them to her, as she will break them and leave the bad luck for you to take! She prefers body parts, sources of blood and musical instruments to dance to. She is most cooperative during the day but more vicious at night as feasting time is drawing closer. Giving her a bomb will not make her explode, and she'll respond with a calm demeanor: "What did you think would happen?" If you give her the magic scroll, she'll feel insulted and lash out with the following: "How dare you deny me what I want!"
On the run from the law, this mad scientist resides in the Monster Lab with his clumsy assistant Igor. Named after the chemistry term, this rather aggressive character prefers body parts, and useful inventions for his daily needs and experiments. His theory is that if you damage or disrupt the house, it becomes angry and dangerous. He really dislikes children. The good doctor is said to bare a strong likeness to actor Christopher Lloyd.
Based on and named after the classic fictional character, Frankenstein is a rather innocent creature if you create him. But if Evil Gahan creates him, he's not so cooperative. However, if you give him the electric eel he will start calling you "master" and treat you like he would have if you had made him. He prefers forms of electricity and a lower order life blob as far as items go. However, breakable items are strictly not to be given to him or else he may break out into a rage. To create him, you need to assemble him in the monster lab along with a brain, heart, blood I.V. and a clockworks.
The Garbage Can
Meet him in the kitchen and throw random items away that you don't need, and the garbage can will give you a new item in return. Try and throw away the same item, and he'll either reject it or give it back to you, telling you to keep it. This is one of the harmless characters you'll encounter in the game. Click on him to hear him talk or say a random funny thing. Do not give him toxic waste, poison, or anything dead/rotting, he will either give you garbage can puke or a foul smell. Both of these items you can give to Herbert and Chauncey, the two-head monster. He also can't stand feet kicking him...
Herbert and Chauncey
This double-headed monster carries double the appetite. Acting as the house's second garbage disposal after the living bin in the kitchen, they eat almost all of your items. Mostly disgusting filth and body parts. Very talkative and vocal creatures- they may also taunt you with self-composed songs.
Hint Line Man
An "unseen" character who can only be heard by clicking the phone in the foyer. He will give you special tips, advice on what to do in the game and heed warnings, i.e. encountering certain monsters, what not to do, etc. Sometimes he'll sound friendly and un-rushed at the start of the game, other times, he'll sound hurried because he "only has one dime left."
Doctor Synthesis' clumsy, slow-witted lab assistant. When you enter the monster lab, Igor will hold your bag for you, and sometimes check for any important items needed in making a monster, i.e. brain, clockwork gears, blood i.v., heart, etc. Build a monster correctly and Igor will encourage you to use the animator raye to make the monster dance. Build a monster incorrectly, and it won't work. Igor will talk to you, give you suggestions, and offer you advice on building your ultimate monster. If you decide to shut Igor up, you can click on his mouth and tape will appear, and you can hear his muffled reply. Click the tape on his mouth to enable his speech.
The Iron Maiden in the wreck room will aide you in capturing a random character in the house. Laying out a good item will get a good response out of her. If you lay out a bad item, she'll reject it. If you arrive in the wreck room early in the beginning of the game, you will run the risk of encountering the green zombie ghoul. This is the only character in the game who speaks with a southern accent similar to Dolly Parton.
A malevolent and not-so-friendly Jack-In-The-Box version of Count Dracula. He'll appear when he finds out the player (you) is unable to escape the attic. Him and his evil toy rocking horse partner Rocky will corner and threaten you until they make you give up items from your bag. Give Dracula a bomb and he'll explode. This is a good way to shut that annoying Jack-In-The-Box up.
Man in the Violin Case
Clicking on the violin case will sometimes get you a violin to add to your inventory, and sometimes show a trumpet that you can play by clicking on it. But be careful, often, you will encounter a miniature gangster who will pop out and shoot you, preceding the phrase: "Take that, you dirty rat!" If the player is lucky, the bullet can be ricocheted by clicking on it, causing the window in the music room to break. The sound of an empty gun chamber clicking will inform the player that it was all a joke and the man in the violin case was never gonna shoot the player.
Seen sitting on a pedestal in the art gallery, Napoleon is practically one of the useless characters in the game. Clicking on the clay bust will enable him to quickly adjust his Tricorn hat, stick his tongue out at you, or say something random. If you give Napoleon what he wants, he will graciously accept the item. Done twice, he will give you a key in return. Unfortunately, if you give Napoleon an item that he doesn't want, he will ultimately turn his "back" to you. Giving Napoleon a bomb will cause him to explode, finding a key inside. This goes the same for when you hit him with the mallet from your bag and shatters into a million pieces.
The skeleton woman sitting alone in the library. Initially warning you not to turn the page of the book she is reading as it will cause her to fall down, crippled onto the floor due to a curse that was placed upon her. Giving her a spell book, crystal ball and hand mirror however, will temporarily cure her and help her back up onto her stool.
An old, antique, out-of-date oven for you to cook disgusting soups on the stove-top and bake nasty goods. This oven speaks with an elderly female voice. Leaving something in the oven for too long while you're exploring another part of the house, you will not get anything. Baking something inside correctly will either get you a key or a Crow Pie.
A comical and sometimes-rude bird in the menagerie. This Parrot is among one of the harmless characters found in the game. If you click on him, he'll tell you random things like never to annoy the Gorilla. He'll also offer you special tips, advice, and what else you can find in the house. Feeding the bird certain foods that he find appealing, he'll lay an egg for you. When you obtain the egg, you can open the egg on the cutting board and find a key inside. Feeding the parrot foods that he won't like or reject, he'll defecate. Giving the parrot a bomb from your bag will cause him to explode and disappear from his cage. Feeding him an electric eel will reduce him to a roast bird. If the player finds the cage empty, they can click and drag the egg to the cage, and over a short period, the parrot will appear. Dragging items like the Swiss Army Knife or Dart to the parrot will make him squawk in pain and make him angry... Feeding him will settle him down and make him pleasant again.
Psychotic In The Bathroom
Can only be found in the bathroom by clicking on the mirror of the medicine cabinet. He will randomly show up at certain times to the theme from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho "Shower scene" and scream at you. At other times, he'll give you suggestions and warnings, but mostly warnings. He speaks in a paranoid, nervous, angry manner. If he tends to scare you too much, you can break the mirror with the mallet in your bag.
Typical, run-of-the-mill record player that sits near the window in the music room. Clicking on the record player, you will either get record hiss, skipping, or a few seconds of hidden saxophone music. Selecting a random record to play will get certain reactions out of the record player. He will either groan in boredom, say "HUH?!", or sounds off in a thoughtful tone. One of the records in the game contains instrumental heavy metal music as a hidden easter egg.
A painting of William Shakespeare with a skull in his hand, to whom he calls Lenore. Dragging a random item to Shakespeare will prompt him to give you a key or anything else- typically body parts. Give him an item that he doesn't want or has no need of and he'll reject it and give it back to you. Do not give him the caterpillar because he says it nibbles away at his canvas!
This one eyed creature, sits alone within the screening room, eagerly awaiting for a visitor to sit down and view some of the movies the room consists of, closing his eye whenever a film is playing to darken the room. Helping it fill up the film archive will call for some rewards to roll down from its tongue
These are the mobile inhabitants in the house that remain silent until they attack. Mostly appearing at night, your bad choices may awaken them.
The result of home cooking gone bad. Overusing or abusing the cooking pot in the Kitchen may result in the creation of this monster. Once awakened, it may also hide in the chest in the Attic, ready to attack a helpless victim.
A rather upset beast. Making much noise or shocking the gorilla in the Menagerie with your electrical prod may lead to a jail break and a game of cat and mouse later.
'It's just a game' should not be your attitude when playing Hangman in the Game Room. Constant abuse towards the host of the game may lead to his revenge. If you play hangman at all in the game and make the house angry even the slightest then the hangman comes out, even if you win the games without getting any body parts up.
Swimming on land isn't a problem for this creature. It prefers to swim around the victim before attacking shortly later. Polluting the grown fish in the fish tank inside the Menagerie will lead to Jaws music being played sooner or later.
The Squid Creature
Not much is known about this mysterious monster. Other than that if you see it, you better be seeing the door to the next room instantly.
The deceased creature walks again throughout the house. It is best not to open the coffin at times in the Wreck Room or else you may disturb its rest. Once awakened, it may also hide in the trunk in the Attic, ready to attack a helpless victim (possibly you).
The Toilet Monster
This monster will appear by clicking on the toilet in the bathroom. He will usually just stick his head out for a minute, or come out completely then go back in. But if you drag the plunger to the toilet he may take something from your bag, or just just look at you again.
This will come out from under the throw rug in the screening room and curse you if you click on the bottom knob on the door to the left.
- Move around the House by clicking the entrance to each room. Some entrances are obvious, and some are concealed.
- Interact with the house as much as possible by clicking anything and by dragging movable objects to characters and objects in each room.
- Drag items in your carpetbag to characters and things to see if they will take them. Try giving them several items: you may get something back. It can take more than one item to get an item in return. Don't be afraid to use up items. (You'll find or get more later.)
- It's good to give characters something from your bag, or click them to get advice. When you give away an item you may get something in return. If you don't, keep trying. Though the items that characters want will change from game to game, the characters' personalities stay the same. Learn what makes them angry, and what gets them to give you things.
- Some monsters will try to get you. Learn to recognize them, and run away!
- When you find items you can drag, try to drag them into your bag. The bag will appear in every room. Anything you put inside will stay in the bag and can be dragged out and used anywhere.
- Put items in places where they might be useful.
- Some things you can drag are room items, which won't go into the carpet bag. You can use them in the room where they appear, but you can't take them with you.
The carpetbag is where you store items as you move between rooms. Items in your inventory can be cycled through and removed from the bag to be used with another object in the room.
If you find all 13 keys in time, you earn a cartoon, a sound or a screen saver that can be exported to your hard drive. You can only claim your reward right after you win. If you choose not to claim it, click Exit. To export your reward to your hard drive, click Get Reward from the Winning Game screen. A Save File dialog box will appear. Choose a place on your hard drive and save your reward. You can open cartoons from within your Microsoft Windows graphics program. Screen savers and sounds should be saved in the Microsoft Windows subdirectory. To set up a screen saver, open the Desktop dialog box from the Control Panel in Microsoft Windows. The Ultimate Haunted House screen savers will be listed in the screen saver drop-down list box with a prefix "HH". To use the sound, open the sound dialog box from the Control Panel in Windows.
In situations when you would normally die before 13 o'clock, you are spared but left with a curse. When you are cursed, you hear an evil laugh and the cursor turns into a skull and crossbones. There are many types of curses.
Everything in the house becomes a very dark brown colour except for eyes and the clock.
The mouse cursor will move in the opposite direction as intended.
Crazy Colours Curse
All the colours of the house are replaced with random colours every couple of seconds. The house hopes to irritate you with this.
Bounce Away Curse
All items dropped on the ground slide offscreen and disappear.
All sounds from the house are muted and replaced with dead silence.
All sounds from the house are deafened and replaced with shrieks of pain.
Loss of Time Curse
An hour passes by instantly.
You are instantly visited by a hostile monster.
All items will slip out of your grasp and cannot be picked up.
Random Travel Curse
You are instantly transported to a random room in the house.
Curse of Chaos
The house instantly becomes more "busy."
A good way to break a curse is to be kind to the characters in the house.
Winning the game
The object of the game is to escape from the Haunted House. To do this, you need to collect all 13 keys and put them back in their keyholes before the clock strikes 13. During the game, it shows how much time has passed. On every hour the clock will strike and the pointer will turn briefly into a clock. If the clock strikes 13 o'clock before you find the 13 keys, you lose the game. If you find all the keys before 13 o'clock, you will win and get a reward.
Losing The game
If you run out of time, the screen cuts to many bricks being piled up, suggesting that the player has lost and is now permanently part of the house.
- Gahan Wilson: Conceptualization and art
- Byron Preiss: Producer
- Judson Rosebush: Director
- Matthew Schlanger: Senior Programmer & Assistant Director
- Jeremy Ross: Editor-in-Chief
- Walt Freitag and Barbara Lanza: Game Designers & Writers
- John Mayo-Smith: Microsoft Windows port & Technical Advisor
- Bob Stratton, Andy Hunt, (Mac and Microsoft Windows), Robert Lee: Programmers
- Bill Nelson: Monster Movie Trailer Maker
- Kathy Konkle: Animation
- Heidi North: Package Design
- Martha Kikut: Documentation
- Dennis Daniel: Character Voices, including Gahan Wilson's cartoon voice