Chiller - 1986 - Exidy Inc.

Ever since the dawn of video games, hell, ever since the dawn of pinball games (OK, maybe pool was first? No, poker? Dammit...) critics have been charging that they cause violence in those who would play them, as if we humans are born without the capacity for anger and only learn it through pantomime. It is rarely mentioned that, despite the wide range of simulated violence on the screen, the player is almost without exception the good guy, the hero, the savior of the game-world. The player must learn and follow the rules, overcome their various handicaps (no skills, weakness, no tools, puzzles, riddles, clever bosses, mazes, etc...) and work toward a goal that often involves saving those who are weaker or less fortunate. Even the games in the "Grand Theft Auto" series often have the protagonist forming friendships, albeit with gang-members and crime-lords, but they are friendships none-the-less. Co-operation and a clear understanding are required to succeed. Yet those with a political agenda can always dip into the ol' video-game violence pool whenever their numbers with soccer-moms start to slip. Of course that rarely stops the stunningly ignorant parents from purchasing "mature" rated games for their 10 year-olds, and the cycle continues.

It is rare to see a player set in a world where their opponents are human, and almost unique to see those other humans in a position of total helplessness. Again, it is usually the case that the human opponents are very strong, much more heavily armed and totally balls-out evil. You know, your Saddam, bin-Laden, Jong-Il types. They may have crawled out of the waters and climbed down from the trees with the rest of us, but that was the last time they could be officially called human. As the player, we are doing the world a solid by getting rid of these bat-shit insane bosses and their legion of unquestioning followers. It is quite rare, then, to see a game where the goal is the outright torture of innocent human beings, where total annihilation of bodies equals bonus points, and the rewards are the death screams of the victims and points on something called the "ectoplasmic tabulator."

Ladies and gentlemen, "Chiller" is pretty fucked up, and horridly awesome.

Continue after the jump, but don't say I didn't warn you.

Brought to us by the team that did similar light-gun shooters like "Crossbow" and "Crackshot", "Chiller" takes a major right-turn down the path to hell. Set in the bowels of some sort of castle/mansion/yermom'sbasement environment, "Chiller" runs through four stages featuring various degrees of torture and man's inhumanity to man...and woman. Before we get to that, let's take a look at the opening screen.

Here we see a grid of the four rooms, "Torture Chamber," "Rack Room" (really just another torture chamber), "Hallway" and "Graveyard." No touchy-feely "cemetery" for "Chiller", although they do stop short of "boneyard." Next to the room list are the eight special targets contained in each room, or rather the results of hitting the targets. You'll have to figure out what the actual targets are for yourself, but don't worry, it's really easy. There's even a helpful disembodied hand that floats around pointing to the special areas. When you hit the correct target you are rewarded with a special sound (and by "special" I mean some "sort-of distorted static," just like most of the other sounds.) When all eight are collected you'll once again be rewarded with a blast of noise, and then you'll just have to make sure to empty the "monster meter" before the time runs out. You do this by shooting absolutely everything, "everything" mostly being the flesh of various helpless people who have somehow found themselves strapped down and tied up. This makes hitting them much easier. Like, eyes-closed or while-doing-you-taxes easy. Here's the first group of party-people:

Oh yeah! Who brought the chips?!

As you can see, there are several instruments of doom here in the "Torture Chamber." The most fun is the head popping deal over there on the right. That guy can't even sit or stand properly! You'll be doing him a favor by flattening his skull. A few shots to the handle will do. There's also the guillotine there in the center. Good times. The more you shoot the people, the more they become bloody and parts-falling-off-ish, (but no, you can't expose any boobies here) until finally:

Total carnage! I love it! ("Smash TV" anyone?)

Once you've racked up (or racked off actually) enough points on the "Monster Meter" your remaining time will be added up in the "Ectoplasmic Tabulator."

Now it would seem that the creators of "Chiller" were oddly hesitant to call these something more apt like "blood points" or "gore gauge" or "number of times you can make that guy scream by shooting him in the thigh-o-meter." The use of "monster" and "ectoplasmic" makes it seem more like you're fighting a traditional zombie shooter than a human torture sim. Sure, there are a few "monsters" scattered here and there, if you consider bats and rats to be monstrous. Perhaps "Chiller" is more like "Silent Hill" where the people are really just figments of the player's imagination and we're just working out the ghosts in our past as we travel up and out of the depths of the castle?



If you manage to get all of the eight special targets, you are given the chance to play a slot-machine bonus game and win either extra points or a free game.

This is mostly impossible to play and it's best to just shoot fast and get back to the real game. It does have a rather nice "blurt!" noise when you lose though.

Here's the "Rack Room." Sure enough, there is not one, but three racks with people laying all over them. One guy wasn't lucky enough to score a rack, so he's just stretched out on the cold stone floor. Poor guy. Couldn't the master of the house at least get him an AeroBed or something? There's also someone strapped to a rope and dangling over a rushing river of blood full of heads and other groady gunk. You can lower the hanging guy into the river while a rather enthusiastic alligator (or is it a crocodile, I always get those two mixed up, but then again, one green blob of pixels is as good as any other green blob of pixels in this game) slowly eats him from the feet up. While feeding the green pixel monster all Bond-style is good for a larf, the racks are the true stars of the show here, and pulling people apart has never been easier. A shot or two to the levers and "shlorp!" Done! Again, no matter how hard you try you just can't shoot off the woman's bra, and don't say you didn't try! What I want to know is who the hell keeps throwing knives at the guy on the far left? Whoever it is, they are an awesome shot.

The third stage, "Hallway," is easily my favorite. The music (this is the only stage, other than the bonuses, with music) sounds like a ghost stomping on a piano, playing a sort of Keystone Cops chase scene. There are no actual people here to blast away at, and the only signs of suffering are the occasional hand or leg floating around. There is a (fully clothed!) woman who (who can't be shot) walks out with a candle, and you can dump her in the trap-door pit with a well timed blast to the right spot. There's a mummy in the coffin to the left, and not only can you rip off the cover of the coffin to get to it, but you can blast all the way into it's Valentine's Day heart. The best part is the giant green head the floats out over and over until you blow it's eyes out. Classy!

After this batch off totally-not-torture targets, you'd think that maybe we were getting out of the more depraved sections of the castle and out into the sweet air of freedom. You probably also believe that there is a God and that He is Good.


Here we emerge from the castle, only to find ourselves in the "Graveyard." But lo! Are thems the boobies we've been taunted with for nigh on four stages now? Yes! Finally we can totally degrade a women to the fullest by shooting her goddamned tits off! Jackpot!

Seriously, there's little else to mention here. The staggeringly mind-blowing audacity of this scene is probably enough. Ah, what the hell. There is also a batch of hands that punch out of the ground, only to toss heads and limbs into the neighboring grave that happens to be a flaming open pit straight into Hell. Oh, and that long, pointy gravestone on the top left spurts blood out of the top when shot. It just doesn't get any better than this.

Now, we've endured all four stages of depravity, shot everything in sight like a tailgunner on meth and found all of the secret stuff, clearing the grid. Time for the holy grail, the bonus game we've spent all of ten or fifteen minutes working toward. This thing is going to be mint. I mean, after fountains of blood and riddling chicks with bullets like stupid-crazy, these guys must have something truly special in store for us.

Oh man, I can hardly contain myself.

Don't miss any? Oh wow, any what? The mind boggles. This could be anything. Puppies? Babies? Maybe an even nakeder woman?

Wait, what? Target practice? This is just that stupid image behind the grid of secret things with a few skulls and heads floating around..and it's really hard! No fair! Oh damn, I missed one...wait...No! I have to start all over? Grr! I'm so mad! I could just shoot someo...oh hay, wait.

That's it. That's "Chiller". Not exactly chilling, but certainly messed up. It's a crappy game, but the originality of the subject matter makes it a must play if just to be able to say you've played it. The sound is horrible but the control is excellent, almost Wii-like. The images are alright but very pixelated,which is probably for the best. No one really wants to play a photo-realistic game like this. If you do, then there's seriously something wrong with you.

Moms, blame these guys:

What have we learned here? What life lessons can we take away from the "Torture Chamber?" Did we manage to glean any of the secret cosmic, er, secrets from the lips of that guy before the alligator blob thing took it's final bite? How could we set up a totally sweet trap door to surprise the hell out of mom the next time she beings a sandwich down to us in our game"Rack Room?"

I have no idea. I'm too busy trying to get this ice-pick into that sweet-spot in my brain, right behind my right eye. That's where I keep the memories of my time playing "Chiller".

For a taste of the mono-phonic sound extravaganza that is the "Chiller" soundtrack, download this 498k MP3 of "Chiller" sounds. It features the cool monster piano stomp as well as a mighty fine "blorp!" Loser.


Danny Ferretiz said...

i Want to download this game, you can help me? where download this chiller..



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Anonymous said...

The people you kill in Chiller are nor innocent people. They are convicted criminals. That is how crime and punishment worked in the middle ages. They didn't execute criminals by lethal injection or the electric chair back then. Most criminals were hanged (a gallows would have been a logical addition to the game, but others were turtured to death like is depicted in the game. Innocent people weren't put in torture chambers. Convicted criminals were. Chiller is a historically accurate depiction of justice in the middle ages.