10 Halloween Inspired Stages in Non-Halloween Video Games

These days Halloween events are common in video games.  Each October developers release special levels, or skins, or events dedicated to All Hallows Eve, but this hasn’t always been the case.  Sure, we had creepy games like Castlevania or Ghosts & Goblins to feed our desire for 8-bit creatures that bump in the night, but what about those non-horror themed games that snuck in a little Halloween spirit just to keep things interesting?  Here are 10 games that feature spooky-themed levels that aren’t necessarily those kinds of games.

Super Mario World – Ghost Houses

Super Mario World is probably one of the first games I recall that integrated a creepy element just for the sake of doing it when they integrated a new level type: ghost houses.  These four haunted homes in Super Mario World helped solidify characters like Boo, Dry Bones, and Big Boo in the Super Mario universe and introduced a puzzle element to the game where users would have to properly navigate a series of doors to make it to the end of the level.  These new levels would pave the way for ghostly levels in numerous Mario games to come.  It also may have laid the foundation for the Luigi’s Mansion franchise.

Super Mario World Ghost House intro

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong’s Quest – Gloomy Gulch

Another Super Nintendo Classic, the Donkey Kong Country series breathed new life into the iconic Nintendo arcade character Donkey Kong.  In Donkey Kong Country 2, Diddy and Dixie Kong are on a quest to save Donkey Kong and at one point find themselves in Gloomy Gulch, a creepy five-part stage complete with spooky woods and a haunted house.  While not all levels in Gloomy Gulch really fit the creepy theme, three of the five do.  Ghostly Grove, Haunted Hall, and Web Woods all put Diddy and Dixie up against a number of creepy characters and to round things out, the two get to rely on a spider by the name of Squitter to complete the final level, Web Woods.

Donkey Kong Country Gloomy Gulch map

Mega Man 7 – Shade Man’s Stage

Put a robo spin on Halloween and you have Shade Man’s Stage from Mega Man 7.  The level starts with Mega Man in a graveyard, complete with robotic zombies and ravens.  From there he makes his way underground through a series of crypts that lead to a mid-level boss that’s a robo jack-o-lantern, inside a jack-o-lantern, inside a jack-o-lantern.  Once through the crypts Mega Man will find himself in the creepy mansion of Shade Man.  The level is also the only one in the game to feature werewolf bots, which greet Mega Man before entering Shade Man’s mansion.  Capcom also slipped a spooky easter egg into the level.  If you hold B while selecting Shade Man’s stage, the music will change from the default level music to music from another Capcom game, Ghosts n’ Goblins.

Mega Man facing off against the jack-o-lantern midboss

Donkey Kong 64 – Creepy Castle

Creepy Castle is the seventh world in Donkey Kong’s first 64bit adventure.  The name of the level pretty much sums it up, Creepy Castle is just that, a creepy castle floating in the sky complete with dark and creepy hallways and spooky dungeons.  Here Kong faces off against ghosts, bats, flying books and skeletal kritters.  One of the more fun elements of the level though is the minecart portion, which clearly takes inspiration from old carnival haunted house rides.

Banjo Kazooie – Mad Monster Mansion

Mad Monster Mansion was one of the later levels in the N64 classic, Banjo Kazooie.  Set in the dark of night, this creepy mansion features it all; a creepy church with a graveyard, a shrub maze, and a slew of horrorific enemies like skeletons, ghosts, and bats.  Best of all, with the help of Mumbo Jumbo’s magic, Banjo can transform into a pumpkin.

Banjo Kazooie Mad Monster Mansion

Sonic Adventure 2 – Pumpkin Hill

The first Knuckles level from the Hero side of Sonic Adventure 2 is Pumpkin Hill.  As the name suggests, this level is full of pumpkins of all sizes and includes other Halloween-ie sights like ghosts, gravestones, and skeletons.

Sonic Adventure 2 Pumpkin Hill

To add to the level’s fun, the soundtrack to the level is a rap called “A Ghost’s Pumpkin Soup,” in which rapper Hunnid-P raps the lyrics:

I’m gonna hold my head ’cause I have no fear.
This probably seems crazy, crazy, a graveyard theory,
A ghost tried to approach me and got leery.
Asked him a question and he vanished in a second,
I’m walkin’ through valleys cryin’ pumpkin in the alley.
Didn’t seem happy but they sure tried to get me,
Had to back ’em up with the fist, metal crack ’em.
I’m hearing someone sayin’ “You a chicken, don’t be scared!”
It had to be the wind, ’cause nobody was there.

Kingdom Hearts – Halloweentown

As a huge Nightmare Before Christmas fan, there was no way this entry wasn’t going to make it on the list.  Halloweentown is one of the most visually impressive worlds in the first Kingdom Hearts game.  Perhaps the reason I love this so much is that the world stayed true to the Halloweentown we know and love from the Tim Burton holiday classic.  From the paper-like ghosts that flutter by in the level’s intro, to the music, to the ghastly cast of characters you meet along the way, this is by far the best depiction of Halloweentown we have seen in a video game, besides the one in The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie’s Revenge.  What adds to the fun of the level are the costumes donned by our heroes Sora, Goofy and Donald.  For this level Sora is dressed as a “vampire,” Goofy is Frankenstein’s monster, and Donald is a mummy.  The theme change of the characters helps them blend into the world, which is much darker than the rest of the game’s environments.

Kingdom Hearts Halloweentown

Bully – Halloween

One of the storyline missions in Chapter 1 of Bully, Halloween, puts an emphasis on the “trick” aspect of trick or treat.  In Halloween, Jimmy dresses up in a skeleton costume (which looks a hell of a lot like the skeleton costumes from The Karate Kid) and has to carry out a number of sub-missions ranging from egging people, to setting off fireworks, to smashing pumpkins and tombstones…you know typical Halloween bully stuff.

Bully Halloween

Scribblenauts Unlimited – Grave Manor

Grave Manor is basically the Haunted Mansion of Scribblenauts.  This place is loaded with ghosts and monsters and all of them have some serious issues to work through before they can leave.  A ghost bride who can’t leave until she gets the wedding she longed for in life, a priest who needs holy relics to crossover, and twin ghosts who just wanted someone to play with them.  Grave Manor is also home to a gravedigger who has unearthed a coffin that brings things back to life.  Drop in a corpse and watch it re-animate and flop around like a fish terrifying the gravedigger.  What makes this level even more interesting is that because it’s a Scribblenauts game, you have some leeway with how you solve the ghosts problems.  The darker your choices are the more sad their story in life may be.

Scribblenauts Grave Manor

Puppeteer – Hallowee Ville

The spooky world of Hallowee Ville has all of the perfect elements of a Halloween level; spooky scarecrows, sinister jack-o-lanterns, spiders, zombies, vampires, and a terrifying angel of death.  But perhaps the most amusing element of this level is the candy craving pumpkin that pukes frosting while begging for candy.  What I like most about this level is that the developers leverage the lighting from the jack-o-lanterns to create the atmosphere of this level.  Whether it’s lighting the entire scene or creating silhouettes, the orange and yellow glow of the jack-o-lanterns create an atmosphere I feel is synonymous with the Halloween holiday.

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