The Beetlejuice franchise included two video games - one for the Nintendo Entertainment System, one for the Game Boy. Both are titled Beetlejuice, and they were both developed by Rare and published by LJN Toys. There was also an MS-DOS game, Skeletons in the Closet, based on the cartoon episode of the same name; this was developed by Riedal Software Productions and published by Hi-Tech Expressions.
The NES game, released in 1991, is based on the film and is a notoriously difficult eight-level platformer. The player takes on the role of Betelgeusenote , who is attempting to scare the Deetz family and their friends out of the Maitland house. This is done by exploring the house and nearby area, stomping on insects, and acquiring special scare techniques to use on the various enemies. However, the scares do not work on the characters he's actually attempting to drive away; he must get Charles, Delia, Lydia, Otho, Adam, and Barbara to stop blocking his path by finding and using specific items on them. Early levels are based on the film, although later levels are original content.
The Angry Video Game Nerd had fits over this game.
Tropes found in this game include:
- Bag of Spilling: Of a sort. If Betelgeuse gets injured while wearing one of his scares, he reverts to his normal form, even if he's only just transformed - meaning that you might have spent a whole lot of Help Vouchers on something you never got to actually use.
- Boom, Headshot!: The spectre in the town model has to be hit on the head to push it back.
- Checkpoint Starvation: There are no save points.
- Dem Bones: In addition to the "whirly skulls" which are enemies, one of Betelgeuse's special scares is a skeleton.
- Drop the Hammer: More like throw, since it'll bounce back and forth in a straight line until caught. This is used to break the possessed sculptures in the house.
- Everything Is Trying to Kill You: Betelgeuse can be injured by such peculiar enemies as shafts of light. Also, falling into some holes will kill you, but falling into others is necessary to get to the next stage. Even more awkward, sometimes it's necessary to climb above the current area, but doing so in other places will kill you.
- Final Boss: Averted. The last level is strictly a collection quest.
- Flash of Pain: A variant - when Betelgeuse takes an afterlife-threatening hit, his name appears. If this happens three times, he loses a life.
- Gotta Catch 'Em All: If you manage to get all the way to the final level in the afterlife, the only way to win is to collect the numbers 1 through 6. Doing so allows you to complete the level and thus the game.
- Healing Potion: A rather odd variant. Betelgeuse can regain energy by stomping on beetles - instead of eating them, which is what the character is known for doing.
- Hit Points: The location of the meter varies depending on whether the current scene is top-down or side-view, but the screen keeps track of how many times Betelgeuse's name has appeared and how many lives are remaining.
- Joke Item: Betelgeuse finds toilet paper in the Deetz/Maitland house. It serves no purpose whatsoever.
- MacGuffin: There are several items scattered throughout the game which Betelgeuse must acquire and utilize, such as two copies of the Handbook for the Recently Deceased. In addition to keys and 1-Up objects, he needs specific Mac Guffins to remove each of the six obstacle characters:
- One True Love: Betelgeuse explicitly describes Lydia this way when he finds her.
- Our Monsters Are Weird: Okay, ghosts, beetles, and flying skulls make sense in a game based on Beetlejuice - but why is he fighting an octopus?
- Platform Game
- Ring-Out Boss: The ones in this game are defeated by pushing them into the back wall.
- Sand Worm: The enemies found in the penalty Secret Level. They are functionally invincible to most scares (requiring a lot of damage), making them extremely difficult to defeat, and can kill in one hit. If you have a Two-Headed Man scare, however, they go down in one hit, and provide a lot of points, making the Saturn level a walk in the park.
- Secret Level: There is a penalty level, Saturn, where Betelgeuse has to avoid sandworms and get back to what he was doing. It can be accessed by opening the wrong door at the Maitland house, and in a few other ways.
- Top-Down View: All of the areas inside the Maitland house take this point of view. The model graveyard, afterlife waiting area, and penalty level are side view.
- Video-Game Lives: Betelgeuse starts with three. He can have up to nine, and these are found in the form of One Ups throughout the game.
- Weird Currency: As the game manual states, "Nothing in the afterlife is free - you gotta pay for it." Defeating specific types of enemies such as beetles, ghosts, and flies will yield "Help Vouchers," which are exchanged at Information Booths for extra lives and special scares.
- A Winner Is You: Completing the game treats the player to about thirty seconds of Betelgeuse's face and some text talking about how great he is.
The Game Boy Beetlejuice game was released in 1992. It's based on the cartoon, and carries the subtitle of Horrific Hijinx From the Neitherworld. Unlike the NES game, this one was generally well-received.
Lydia's house is filled with assorted ghosts who need to be removed, and only Beetlejuice has the power to evict them; of course, it's also his fault that they're there in the first place. The player must guide him through five levels of various insanity throughout the Deetz household and the nearby town to accomplish this goal. But the final boss, Astaroth, takes Lydia prisoner and the game turns into a rescue mission.
Tropes found in this game include:
- Affectionate Nickname/Ship Tease: In addition to the "Babes" nickname from the show, Beetlejuice addresses his mortal companion by a number of names which are only found in this game. These include "Lydia, my chickadee," "pretty-missy," and "my little pumpernickel." He also refers to her as "lovely Lydia" on the game package.
- Bottomless Magazines: Beetlejuice never runs out of magic.
- Checkpoint Starvation: Like the NES game, there are no save points.
- Creepy Cemetery: Part of level 3.
- Dem Bones: There are skeletons who must be defeated while rearranging the cemetery statues.
- Demoted to Extra: Poopsie, the dog belonging to the Monster Across the Street, is on hand during the pipe puzzle, but he's basically decoration. Other characters appear in the mini-game where cards are flipped to find matching pairs.
- Die, Chair, Die!: Beetlejuice has to attack haunted laundry, furnishings, and other household objects in his quest to eject the unwelcome ghosts.
- Eldritch Abomination: The Final Boss, Astaroth, is a demonic head with four arms.
- Everything Is Trying to Kill You: There are no friendly faces anywhere in the game, except for Lydia's during cutscenes, so everything Beetlejuice encounters is trying to take him out.
- Flash of Pain: The enemy ghosts flash whenever they're hit. So does Beetlejuice.
- Game Within a Game: The Funny Faces Contest
- Hit Points: There's a meter at the bottom of the screen.
- Kill It with Fire: The "white sheet spook" is defeated by forcing it to run into a candle.
- Minecart Madness: Part of level 4.
- Mission Control: Lydia more or less takes on this role during cutscenes. Beetlejuice will ask her about the current situation and she'll advise him about certain details.
- Only Smart People May Pass: The pipe puzzle in the bathroom; if the pipes are not all connected in the correct order, the game cannot continue.
- Platform Game
- Puzzle Game: Most of the mini-games fall into this category.
- Roaring Rampage of Rescue: Level 5, when Astaroth has kidnapped Lydia.
- Sniping Mission: The only way to defeat anything is to hit it from a distance with Beetlejuice's magic.
- Victory Pose: Beetlejuice does a funny little strut every time he defeats one of the mini-bosses.
- Video-Game Lives: As in the NES game, Beetlejuice can have up to nine, and these are found in the form of One Ups throughout the game.