Games that scared us when we were kids

A screenshot shows a 2D monster attacking a player in a brick hallway.

Screenshot: MicroProse / Kotaku

Legacy: Kingdom of Terror was this box that was on the shelves in my dad’s little room that he used for a study. These shelves were a cluttered mess of PC game boxes (including the actual box Loss came in, my dad being one of seven people on Earth who didn’t hack it), notebooks, graph paper for drawing RPG maps, pipe tobacco, and jars full of pens, straws, screwdrivers and other pencil-like objects.

I would pull out the box and look at its cover, that awful looming mansion, dark but for two lighted windows high up, with lightning crackling from the sky to its rooftops. It made me shiver. I doubt I even noticed the two demonic looking stone creatures that sat on either side of the front door – the building alone was enough to give me the jibblies.

One evening, when both my parents were out, I decided it was time to finally play it. He installed the thing, from the six floppy disks, with an overwhelming sense of foreboding. A few hard drive crackles later, I was faced with a far more complex intro than expected, the game far more RPG than first-person horror. I created a character, read his story and entered the mansion.

You might expect this story to now pivot into the huge anticlimax ahead of me, given all the anticipation, but eeeeeeeeeeek: the game scared the lovers off. shit loose my control. Its wood-paneled walls and eerily bland red carpets don’t make for a visual feast, but what I remember scaring me so early on was the feeling of being for follow-up. You know that feeling in a great horror game, when you lean hard in your chair trying to encourage your character to move faster, go to hell in that hallway, and get away from the creature that follows, panicked and frantic, the feeling of a supernatural danger that tenses your muscles? That was it, except I was a kid, in the house all alone, and I fell asleep so hard.

I haven’t played it since. I remember my dad trying it out later and telling me he also found it way too annoying. I imagine, in the cold light of exactly 30 years later, that this 1992 Microprose creation probably doesn’t possess the same ability to scare. But then just looking at his cover still gives me that 14-year-old heebie-jeebies, and I don’t want to know about it. —John Walker


Now that we’ve laid bare our childhood traumas, share your stories of when a video game scared you as a kid. Your therapist would probably approve.

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