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Video Game / Halloween Racer

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Smell you at the finish line!

Released in Late 1999 for the Game Boy Color, Halloween Racer is a low-budget Mascot Racer developed by Visual Impact over a period of three to four months. The music was provided by Eden Sound and the publication was handled by Microids. The game was designed to be an impulse buy for Halloween and is appropriately themed. Hitting up two holidays at once, it also has Christmas-related elements and these only become available around the game's midway point. This also makes it a better fit for its Europe-exclusive releases, because Halloween as a spooky holiday is barely a thing there but Christmas is popular.

There isn't much meat to the story; just the denizens of Halloween organizing races in their realm. Six of these are playable: a witch on a broom, a knight on a floating shield, a scarecrow, a skeleton with fog feet, a penguin on a snowman's head, and a rabbit on a pumpkin head. These six cannot race against each other, but race against four, five, or six NPCs. The NPCs are much more simply designed than the playable cast and include a pumpkin person, a vampire bat, a mummy, a skeleton, a bedsheet ghost, a UFO, a carnivorous plant, a penguin, and a parka-wearing figure riding a snowball. The NPCs don't start at the finish with the player racer, but at various spots farther along the circuit.

The game offers two modes: Championship and Practice. Both are available in the difficulties Rookie, Advanced, and Expert. The latter two are unlocked by beating the lower difficulties in championship mode. Rookie covers four circuits (Vulcan, Egypt, Red Moon, Mine) and eight races, Advanced covers five circuits (Jungle added) and fifteen races, and Expert covers six circuits (Icefield added) and eighteen races. A bonus circuit, The Garden, is only available in practice mode after beating the expert championship. Championships are won by at minimum coming in third each race. Coming in fourth or failing to reach one of the circuit's checkpoints before the timer runs out requires the player to pay a credit to continue, which are earned by winning races and scoring points during races by picking up gems and overtaking opponents. The game makes use of a Password Save system in which passwords are handed out after each completed championship.

Halloween Racer received a Stealth Sequel in 2001 named Monster Racer. There is no marketing, title, platform, logo, or story to tie them together, but most of the cast of Halloween Racer and several circuits reappear.

Halloween Racer contains examples of:

  • Abandoned Mine: Ostensibly, the Mine circuit relates to an abandoned mine, but there's no mine in sight. The circuit does go through a rocky desert where a mine would not at all be unexpected, but there's not even an entrance to be seen.
  • Ancient Egypt: Despite not taking place on Earth, there is a circuit through Egypt. It is a sandy area with sphinx statues littering the landscape and pyramids on the horizon.
  • Animated Armor: The knight is a possessed suit of armor who travels on a floating shield.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: One of the NPCs is a bedsheet ghost.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: The Garden is a practice mode-only circuit unlocked after beating the championship on the expert level. Like all practice mode circuits, there are no other racers and the player only has to make sure they reach each of the four checkpoints before the time runs out. In The Garden, meeting those time limits requires near-perfect racing. There are no beneficial objects to pick up, but all the harmful ones are present and often occupy turns that would already be tricky to maneuver without them.
  • Cave Mouth: On the horizon of the Mine circuit is an eerie face visible in the rocky landscape. It's not certain it's an entrance inside the mountain, but it does look like one.
  • Christmas Town: The Icefield is the last circuit to be unlocked for the championship and it is subtly Christmas-themed. There are north pole-poles, conifers, and snowmen.
  • Covers Always Lie: There is a vampire holding a gravestone on the cover along with the witch and the scarecrow. The latter two are default playable racers and the third default playable racer is a knight. There is no vampire racer in sight, whether by default or as an unlockable, although he does show up as a racer in Monster Racer. So he presumably was meant to be in the game, but was cut before release and the cover wasn't updated to reflect that.
  • Dem Bones: There are three characters that are living skeletons. The first is a pirate skeleton who serves as the races' starter. The second is a skeleton with fog feet who is an unlockable racer. And the third is one of the NPCs.
  • Do Not Touch the Funnel Cloud: Whirlwinds are one of the obstacles to avoid during a race. Touching one forces the player racer into a spin that costs precious seconds.
  • Excuse Plot: The races take place in Halloween, a realm where monsters live. Apparently, they like to race against each other.
  • Fake Difficulty:
    • There is a real challenge in the races in regards to overtaking opponents and reaching the checkpoints timely, but there is also a fake challenge in how many races have to be completed for each championship. The rookie level calls for eight races, the advanced level for fifteen races, and the expert level for eighteen races. The rookie level covers four circuits, the advanced level five, and the expert level six. So to beat the rookie level, each circuit has to be raced on twice and to beat the other two levels, each circuit has to be raced on thrice.
    • Halloween Racer lacks a circuit map, even though it reuses the engine of Suzuki Alstare Extreme Racing and that game has a circuit map. This means corners cannot be prepared for other than by sheer memorization while corners are easily the most difficult part of each race.
  • Fighting Clown: The last two racers to be unlocked are a penguin on a snowman's head and a rabbit on a pumpkin head. They combine good speed with good balance instead of having either.
  • Flying Broomstick: The witch participates in the races by flying on a broomstick.
  • Flying Saucer: One of the NPCs is an alien riding in a UFO.
  • Fog Feet: The skeleton racer has no legs, but instead coasts along the circuit on green fog. When he picks up lightning bolt for a speed boost, the green fog envelops him completely.
  • Halloween Town: The realm of Halloween is its own dimension where monsters live. Not all areas are necessarily eerie, as for instance the Icefield has a subtle Christmas vibe. There's also a region called Egypt, which is filled with sand and pyramids and nothing more spooky than its association with mummies.
  • Invincibility Power-Up: One of the beneficial pick-ups is an invincibility potion. It protects against spider webs, whirlwinds, and the opponents' bodily blocking, but it does not protect against tripping over snails or crashing into objects in the landscape.
  • Jungle Japes: The Jungle circuit takes place in a jungle.
  • Lethal Lava Land: The Vulcan circuit takes place on a volcano. The racers cannot go off-track though, so the lava is not an issue. Because of this, it actually serves as the starter circuit.
  • Living Snowmen: The penguin racer rides on a snowman's head that appears to be alive. Because the penguin turns white when it picks up the lightning bolt for a speed boost, it's possible that the penguin is also a snow creature.
  • Mage Species: As an inhabitant of Halloween where everyone is a monster, it follows that the witch is one by birth and not by profession.
  • Man-Eating Plant: One of the NPCs is a carnivorous plant.
  • Mayincatec: The area of the Red Moon circuit holds many vaguely Mesoamerican statues. The landscape is furthermore fully red due to the moon's influence, evoking the association with blood.
  • Mummy: One of the NPCs is a living mummy.
  • Nitro Boost: One of the beneficial pick-ups is a lightning bolt that grants a temporary speed boost that also allows the player to bypass the opponents' bodily blocking. Notably, each racer has its own animation when the boost is in effect. The scarecrow gets brighter colors and makes jittery arm motions, the witch gets an orbiting particle shield and sways on her broom, the knight glows red and huddles a little, the skeleton gets a green glow around his arms and raises them, the penguin turns white as snow and flaps its wings, and the rabbit exudes green electricity and wiggles its ears.
  • Orbiting Particle Shield: A ball of energy orbits around the witch when the speed boost pick-up is in effect.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: One of the NPCs is a vampire in bat form.
  • Palette Swap: Two NPCs, the skeleton and the mummy, have the same silhouette but have different palettes to show they're different monsters.
  • Password Save: Unlockables from beating championships are saved by means of a password system. Passwords are referred to as spells and contain six symbols. The selectable symbols include letters (all but the vowels and "J"), numbers, a question mark, an exclamation mark, and a skull, so that makes for 32^6 or 1073741824 combinations. Funnily, it exists for only four similar passwords. The passwords for beating the rookie championship, advanced championship, expert championship, and The Garden in practice mode respectively are 2!!MT9, 2[skull]!NT9, PCT92!, and PHT52!.
  • Pirate Parrot: The races' starter is a pirate skeleton who is accompanied by a green parrot.
  • Power Glows: Both the knight and the skeleton glow with power when the speed boost pick-up is in effect. The knight glows red all over while the skeleton's arms glow green.
  • Pumpkin Person: There are up two characters that are pumpkin folk. The first is one of the racers, a carved-out pumpkin head partnered with a white rabbit. The other one is one of the NPCs, a carved-out pumpkin head partnered with no one.
  • Scary Scarecrow: The scarecrow is a living being without legs and with arms dangling from the cross he's build around.
  • Secret Character: The game starts with three playable racers and three more can be unlocked. A skeleton with fog feet becomes available upon beating the rookie championship and a penguin on a snowman's head becomes available upon beating the advanced championship. If one manages to beat The Garden circuit in practice mode, a white rabbit riding a pumpkin head becomes available.
  • Sinister Schnoz: The witch has an exceptionally pointy nose which along with her pointy chin somewhat makes her look like she has a beak.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The Icefield takes place in a snow-covered field surrounded by mountains. Despite that the circuit looks slippery, it is not.
  • Sticky Situation: Spider webs are one of the obstacles to avoid during a race. Touching one causes the player to temporary lose speed.
  • Thin Chin of Sin: The witch has an exceptionally pointy chin which along with her pointy nose somewhat makes her look like she has a beak.
  • Timed Mission: Every circuit has checkpoints that need to be reached before the timer runs out and which in turn replenish the timer. The rookie and advanced levels start the player off with 45 seconds and checkpoints add 40 seconds back to the timer. The expert level and The Garden circuit start the player off with 35 seconds and checkpoints add 30 seconds back to the timer. Halloween Racer offers some leeway in that when the timer hits 0:00, the race isn't over until the player actually comes to a standstill. It is possible to slide just that little extra distance over the checkpoint and be back in the race.
  • Trip Trap: There are snails spread across the circuit. Hitting them causes the player racer to trip and neither invincibility nor the speed boost protect against it.
  • Unlockable Difficulty Levels: The game starts with the championship and practice modes available only on the rookie level. Beating the rookie championship unlocks the advanced level for both modes and beating the advanced championship unlocks the expert level for both modes. The higher difficulties come with an added circuit each — the Jungle for the advanced level and the Icefield for the expert level — and the championships are harder due to a higher number of opponents, tighter time limits, and more races to complete.
  • Weird Moon: The Red Moon circuit does not take place on the moon, but in an area colored red due to the moon's influence. The moon itself is only slightly red and whether or not it is perpetually in the area's sky or if the races are just timed right is unclear.
  • White Bunny: The rabbit has a white coat, which may very well be because it is a snow rabbit as per the game's secondary Christmas theme. Being a creature of Halloween, it looks sinister but that might be an aesthetic more than a personality trait.
  • Wicked Witch: As an inhabitant of Halloween, the witch doesn't have to be evil but her association is with the spooky side of magic and her appearance checks all the key components of a witch better avoided.