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Video Game / The Ultimate Haunted House

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"So nice of you to come and visit. Make yourself at home. Just be sure to leave before 13 o' clock, or else... you'll have to stay here forever!"
Gahan Wilson's introduction to the house

Gahan Wilson's The Ultimate Haunted House is a darkly comedic horror-themed Adventure Game for PC and Mac released in 1993 and 1994 by Byron Preiss Multimedia and published by Microsoft Home.

The player is dumped into a Haunted House and told to find 13 keys by 13 o' clock, or else they will have to stay in the house forever. Along the way, the faceless protagonist will pick up items, encounter creatures both horrible and helpful, and all in all search the eerie mansion to uncover the keys in time.

The Ultimate Haunted House contains examples of:

  • Arc Number: 13. There are 13 rooms in the house, the player has to find 13 keys by 13 o' clock, the house is located at 1313 Mourning Lane., and there are thirteen roaming characters in the house (Byron, Vena Cava, Dr. Synthesis, Frankenstein, Herbert and Chauncey, Good Gahan, Evil Gahan, the zombie, the blob, the squid creature, the shark, the gorilla, and the hangman).
  • Berserk Button: Everyone in the house has certain items that anger them. The house itself has many things that irritate it, which makes the game harder.
  • Blob Monster: There are two of these in the house. One of these is one of the monsters in the house, a purple creature with yellow eyes that emerges from the kitchen's cooking pot. The other is a "young blob creature", which resembles an amoeba and is an item you can pick up.
  • Book Case Passage: The entrance to the library.
  • Chest Monster: Several monsters hide in boxes to jump the player when the box is opened. The zombie and the blob can hide in the chests in the Attic. The zombie also sometimes hides in the iron maiden in the Torture Chamber in the basement. While not a wandering monster, a mobster can hide in the violin case in the Music Room, shooting at the player when opened.
  • Children Are Innocent: Byron Price, the child in the house, is usually this. However, the experiences in the house can sometimes turn him into a Creepy Child, or even an Enfant Terrible.
  • Cthulhumanoid: One of the monsters in the house (known as the Squid Monster), a strange-looking creature that looks like a cross between Medusa and Cthulhu.
  • Curse: The result of a monster attack. The painting in the Art Gallery believes monsters curse you instead of killing you because Gahan wants his victims alive for whatever reason. Curses can range from inverting your mouse movements, to causing you to drop items, to turning all sound effects into screaming, to even making you lose an hour of time on the clock.
  • Dem Bones: Though an actual skeleton monster doesn't appear as a monster, the unfortunate Noreen Rickets, under the Curse of Evil, is stuck in the form of a skeleton, immobile on the floor of the library. You can cure her of her curse for some rewards.
  • Evil Laugh: Evil Gahan (and when provoked to attack you, Dr. Synthesis) let one out when they curse you. A deeper, more subdued one plays in the background when you are cursed.
  • Frankenstein's Monster: One of the creatures in the house, also known as The Ultimate Monster. You can create him in the monster laboratory in the basement using the right parts. Unusually, this version of the Frankenstein monster speaks in complete sentences, much like the monster from the original book. If you create him, he will be friendly, though if Gahan creates him instead, he won't be.
  • Game Face: Most monsters (and angry NPCs) reveal theirs when they attack you. In some cases, their eyes glow and they suddenly grow sharp teeth and claws.
  • Genius Loci: The house itself has a will of its own, and angering the house can have some dangerous side effects.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Unlike the other monsters which each come from a source that can be triggered by the player, the Squid Monster basically just pops up out of nowhere.
  • The Igor: Igor Stravinsky, Dr. Synthesis' beleaguered assistant. Unlike the general trope, Igor does not have a lisp, nor does he do any actual graverobbing onscreen (though he does show up on a wanted poster in the attic being convicted for the crime).
  • Invincible Boogeymen: The game occasionally unleashes a monster on you, and unlike the other supernatural inhabitants of the house, they are automatically hostile towards you. As Gahan himself helpfully informs you, they cannot be placated, fought or defeated in any way. All you can do is leave the room as quickly as possible, or risk getting cursed. For good measure, angering the house will result in monsters showing up more often.
  • Karloff Kopy: Dr. Synthesis speaks with a clear Boris Karloff impression.
  • Killer Gorilla: One of the monsters in the house, an abused gorilla in the Menagerie.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Synthesis is a depraved scientist intent on conducting heinous experiments.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: There's one in the basement, where the player can create their own monster.
  • Menagerie of Misery: The Menagerie has a gorilla, a fish, and a parrot contained respectively in a cage, tank, and birdcage that are all too small for them, and they are tortured by the house's residents on a regular basis. However, the gorilla and the fish will break free if tormented too many times.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Either the man in the painting is a Consummate Liar or has this. If one is to take his comments at face value, he sculpted the Taj Mahal, fought in the Boer War, stormed the Bastille, composed music (and used to be a virtuoso violinist), was a champion racecar driver and film star, invented the circuit board, discovered a new species of tropical guppy, wrestled a 20 foot python, and served in the Swiss Navy (as an admiral, of course).
  • Multiple Head Case: Herbert and Chauncey, the two-headed monster.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: In the Screening Room, a crocodile will appear from a hole under the throw rug and curse you if you click on the wrong doorknob to the Game Room.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The zombie in this game is mindless, one of the monsters in the house, which sleeps in an iron maiden in a torture chamber in the house's basement. It is bright green and looks like its skin is melting off, and unusually for a zombie, it attacks with magic curses rather than directly.
  • Plot Coupon: The 13 keys, as well as the scroll of 13 o' clock.
  • Polly Wants a Microphone: The parrot in the Menagerie can give the player hints and items.
  • Psycho Electric Eel: An electric eel is one of the game's items, used to gift to the Frankenstein's monster or zap residents when they are trapped in the iron bars in the torture room.
  • Pumpkin Person: The hangman, who will become one of the monsters of the house if you lose at his namesake game too many times.
  • Split Personality: Gahan Wilson's ghost suffers from this, due to the result of a formula he drank. One personality is good, the other is evil, and it is difficult to tell which one is in control at first glance. Part of the difficulty of dealing with Gahan is that Evil Gahan will often pretend to be Good Gahan so that he can mock you and steal one of your items after you give him one. The way to tell the two apart is to look at the direction their feet are pointing and listen to the noise Gahan makes when he appears; if it makes a high pitched shuddering noise, Good Gahan's feet point to your right, Evil Gahan's feet point to your left. If he makes a low warbling noise, the reverse is true.
  • Stock Footage: You can watch stock footage of old public-domain black-and-white horror films in the Screening Room, including Nosferatu and The Phantom of the Opera (1925).
  • Threatening Shark: One of the monsters in the house, a black Land Shark who emerges from a tormented pet fish in the Menagerie.
  • Timed Mission: The player has to find all 13 keys before the clock in the house strikes 13.
  • Unknown Item Identification: Played with. Items do not have to be identified per se, but some of the items are so strange-looking that it is difficult to tell what they are on the first playthrough. The painting in the art gallery can identify them, though he will sometimes take them afterwards.
  • Vampire Vords: Averted with Countess Vena Cava, the resident vampire, who speaks normally. Played straight with the Drac-in-the-Box in the attic.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: In the torture room, you can lure in characters into the iron bars, the crushing machine, and the iron maiden with items they desire in exchange for more items. Crushing Evil Gahan will placate the house.

(door rises up from the wall)
Gahan: NO!! COME BACK BACK back back....