(also known as Nightmare
in Australia, the game's country of origin) was a board game developed and released in 1991, and followed players as they attempted to confront their greatest fears while taking on challenging odds and a creepy host.
The main objective of the game is to collect six special keys, called Keystones, in various provinces across the six sections of the game board (referred to as "The Other Side"), then return to their starting spot. Once there, the player opens up a jar in the center of the board that houses all of their fears (written on slips of paper before the game begins). If the player chooses another person's fear, they beat the game. However, there is a time limit
working against the players, via a videotape (later DVD) with a countdown clock that runs while players take turns.
Their progress can be alternately aided or hindered by The Gatekeeper, a hooded being who will often interrupt the game and give various conditions (which are sometimes helpful, but mostly harmful) to one or all of the players. If none of the players win the game before the time limit of the gametape elapses, The Gatekeeper wins.
Several expansions and sequels were produced for the series:
The Spoony Experiment
- Nightmare (1991): The original game, which introduced the Gatekeeper and the six Harbingers, who have authority over the various provinces in the game: Anne de Chantraine (a witch), Baron Samedi (a zombie), Countess Elizabeth Bathory (a vampire), Gevaudan (a werewolf), Hellin (a ghost- specifically, a poltergeist) and Khufu (a mummy). The game was a smash hit, and sold more than two million units.
- Nightmare II (1992): The first expansion for the original game, hosted by Baron Samedi.
- Nightmare III (1993): The second expansion, hosted by Anne de Chantraine.
- Nightmare IV (1994): The fourth expansion, hosted by Elizabeth Bathory. A further expansion, Nightmare V, was intended to be hosted by Khufu and released in 1995, but was cancelled due to low sales of the original game and replaced with...
- The Harbingers, a reboot of the series that was released in 1995 and co-developed with Village Roadshow and J.W. Spear & Sons. The game introduced a number of new elements, including the ability for players to take on the role of the Harbingers, the introduction of "sewer" areas and the introduction of a new race, The Soul Reapers, a group of dark skeletons that live in suffering and agony. Players who didn't make it to a Harbinger character emblem in time became a Soul Reaper, and could chase the other Harbingers around the game board in pursuit of their Keystones. It subsequently became one of the best selling board games in the U.S. and United Kingdom, and spawned a tie-in game, Atmosfear: The Third Dimension.
- Harbingers had two further booster tapes released (with shorter runtimes for a greater challenge), along with an addon/Spin-Off based on the Soul Rangers.
- Atmosfear: The Gatekeeper (another relaunch) was released after a nine-year hiatus, but had one major difference - it was released as a DVD board game, and featured interactive elements that included players picking and choosing which of the Harbingers' dimensions they could be transported to at certain points in the game. While the game featured many of the same rules and areas as its predecessors, it had a major change in the win condition: a player could only win if they drew their own fear after collecting the six Keystones.
- The Gatekeeper also received its own sequel called Khufu The Mummy, which featured a new gameboard, rule conditions and a new Harbinger (Medusa the gorgon).
reviewed several games in the series, the original Nightmare
and the "expansions" to Nightmare, along with Atmosfear: The Harbingers.
Tropes found in the Atmosfear series: