8-Bit Horror: Scary NES Games

Nostalgia is a word that has been thrown around a little too much lately. When people think nostalgia, it’s usually in regards to the 1980s. It’s the decade of hair metal bands, horror movies, and video games. Most, if not all of us, look back on the 1980s with fondness. You no longer had to go down to the Arcade to play your favorite video games. The Nintendo Entertainment System revolutionized the gaming industry for the better. The Atari was great, but come on, Nintendo changed the game forever. When the Nintendo first dropped it was priced at $199.99, which was pretty steep in 1985.

It can be argued that the Nintendo dropped in the middle of the Golden Age of Horror cinema. Nintendo capitalized on horror’s popularity amongst adults, teens, and kids alike. From ghosts, vampires, and sharks to slasher films, Nintendo jumped on the horror franchises to make fun and enjoyable games for the whole family. Let’s face it, not much is scary in 8-Bit, but the following eight games come pretty damn close.

Ghosts ‘n Goblins

You can find Ghosts ‘N Goblins on Nintendo Switch Online. It’s a wonderful game that plays like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Castlevania. The level of difficulty isn’t that high, but as you progress, the game gets a bit harder. It’s fun for all types of gamers, whether your a seasoned pro or a beginner.


The beautiful princess is kidnapped. Her lover, the Knight in shining armor, armed with five different weapons to fight the enemy, sets out to rescue the beautiful princess. The Knight, aided by your skill, must pass through seven different guarded gates, fighting and destroying demons, dragons, giants and zombies. There are hidden characters, too! Some friends, some foes. Ghosts ‘N Goblins is exciting… challenging you and the Knight to rescue the princess, amid great danger, escaping Hades, land of the enemies!


Who doesn’t like hunting vampires? Castlevania is one of the more popular horror games. It’s popularity is in the same stratosphere as Metroid, but not quite Mario or Zelda status, yet. The game was the first of many that have spanned several gaming platforms. It has also spawned a Netflix series. Castlevania is known for being a hard game to play. The gameplay is good, but the level of difficulty is can take its toll on a gamer.


Castlevania marked the beginning of Konami’s acclaimed series, one that is still going strong today!

As vampire hunter Simon Belmont, you must fight your way through Dracula’s castle teeming with ghosts, goblins, demons and other supernatural creatures. Six challenging levels await before you finally confront the Count himself.

You’ll need your wits and weapons to survive because when you finally meet Dracula, you know he’ll be going for the jugular. So keep your courage up and your stake sharp!

A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street was the coolest horror franchise in the 80s. Its commercial success was a game changer for horror, and it hasn’t been replicated since. The series was interwoven into 80s pop culture and people wanted to cash in on Freddy Krueger’s success. A Nightmare on Elm Street is fun for the most part. You play as high school teens trying to find and burn the bones of Freddy Krueger before he kills you in your dreams. It’s not as odd as Friday the 13th, but it’s still a little wonky. It’s a great collector’s item if your a fan of Springwood Slasher.


Something frightening has been happening on Elm Street lately. It seems that with each waking day another gruesome discovery is made… another neighborhood teen has mysteriously passed away into the dark stillness of the night. Everyone says it’s “natural causes,” but it seems as if something (or someone) has been picking them off one by one in their sleep. It’s a horrible nightmare come true… and this nightmare has a name; Freddy Krueger.

It’s up to you and your remaining friends to search Elm Street for his bones, which have been scattered about, then collect and burn them in the High School furnace. If you can just stay awake long enough, you might be able to end Freddy’s reign of terror for good. You had better hurry though, it’s getting late and you can feel your eyelids getting heavier and heavier by the minute.

This plot is parallel of the film series, a spin-off.

Friday the 13th

Jason Vorhees gives Freddy Krueger a run for his money. You play as camp counselors who are trying to protect campers from Jason Vorhees. Great premise, right? But no, the game developers dropped the ball. The game isn’t that fun. I know. What a waste, huh? It’s very difficult and it doesn’t really make any sense. But it makes for a great collector’s item. If you don’t have this in your horror stash, then you should get it.


It’s a pretty typical summer at Crystal Lake. There’s a group of happy children staying in the Camp. You and your six Camp Counselor friends are watching over the kids while enjoying the lake and the wilderness. The days are bright and sunny. The nights are cool and clear. And Jason is on a rampage. It’s up to you to stop him, but it’s not going to be easy. You must first fight your way through forests filled with man-eating wolves, caves covered with blood sucking bats and hordes of mindless zombies everywhere you turn. You must also help any friend who is in danger, or else you can just kiss them goodbye. And hiding in a cabin or staying adrift in a canoe won’t keep you safe – Jason will find you anywhere. The only way to survive this summer is to challenge Jason face to face, and destroy him. 

This plot is parallel of the film series, a spin-off. 

Ghoul School

Ghoul School is a pretty good game. Great story with a blood-soaked ending. It’s one of the first survival horror games ever made. I feel like it would have been better on the SNES or N64. It definitely would have been more successful.


While taking the usual shortcut home through the cemetery from Cool School High, Senior Spike O’Hara found a strange, glowing skull. He put it in his backpack to show to his anatomy teacher the next day, which happened to be Halloween Eve. When Dr. Femur wanted to keep the skull for a special study, Spike was concerned because it appeared that the skull was bigger than it was the day before. Little did anyone know that the skull had begun transmitting its message to the realm of the dead. The ghouls had begun their assault…

Ghosts/demons have taken over Cool School High. They have turned the teachers and football team into demons. To make matters worse, they have kidnapped Samantha Pompom, the head cheerleader. The player assumes the role of Spike O’Hara as he tries to defeat the ghouls and rescue Samantha. He will have to explore more than 200 rooms and defeat a large number of enemies. There are items and weapons throughout the game that O’Hara can find to defeat the ghouls, though many of these items are well-hidden.


It’s showtime! I love the video game as much as I loved the film. The game is just like the film, except you have to go through eight horrific levels. But your still trying to scare the city folks out of your house. It’s a fun game.


It’s showtime…starring me…The Ghost with the Most! How’d you like to help me scare those city folks out of your house…and their wits!?! We’ll scare our way through eight horrific levels, including the Graveyard (it’s so nice this time of the year) and the Ghoul House. And run into (and away from) Killer Giant Beetles, Legs Without Heads and Deadly Scorpions. Wait ’til you get a load of the weirdos in the Afterlife Waiting Room! Just remember, one wrong move and you’re food for the Sand Worm.

Maniac Mansion

Maniac Mansion is a pretty fun game. Feels more like a computer game, though. You play as a three interchangeable player team rescuing Sandy from the evil doctor’s house.


The Edison mansion has always been a creepy old house on the edge of town. There have been rumors of strange experiments going on and of odd creatures living amongst the Edison family. There is even a story that a meteorite once crashed near the home nearly 20 years ago. More immediately, a girl named Sandy has gone missing from the local high school and her boyfriend Dave swears that he saw Dr. Fred abducting her. Dave knows that he cannot do it alone and will need help from two other students if he has any hope of infiltrating the mansion and rescuing Sandy.

Players start by choosing two students to accompany Dave to the Edison mansion, and can then switch between these three characters at will. Most actions are carried out by selecting verbs on the screen and applying them to an object (such as “OPEN Door”). Each character maintains a separate personality and may have a different way to solve a problem from his classmates. Thus many of the puzzles can be overcome in different ways depending on the character being used. If any one of the kids are captured by the Edisons, they are thrown into the dungeon and must be rescued themselves by any character who still has their freedom.

Monster Party

Monster Party is a horror game with low-rent Universal Studios monsters. It was a pretty obscure game when it released, and it still is today. Not many people talk about this horror game. You play as a young boy, Mark, who wields a baseball bat. He encounters Bert, a monster, who needs Mark’s help in saving his planet. Mark must face off against evil monsters. The monsters are so cool and creative.


You are a young boy with a baseball bat named Mark. On your way home from a baseball game, you encounter a monster named Bert. Bert needs your help in saving his planet from the evil monsters. You learn how to fuse with Bert and become a monster fighting gargoyle. You’ll spend most of the game attacking bad guys by swinging your bat at them or volleying their fire.

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