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Enjoyable retro horror thrills
If the idea of a horror-themed variation on classic old-school platformers like Jet Set Willy sounds appealing, then Frightmare will be probably be right up your alley. It's not quite a classic, but provides plenty of retro action to get your teeth into. The game starts with an interesting premise: you are experiencing a terrible nightmare and if you die in it, you die in real life. Your mission is to stay awake until your alarm clock rings. The game itself is a platformer which requires you to explore a set of rooms that are filled with zombies, ghosts and other such nasty creatures and which can be avoided or killed. Every time you enter a new room, you get six minutes closer to your alarm clock going off so survival isn't just a question of killing everything for the fun of it, but requires swift reflexes and fast actions to reach the next screen. This is actually a very clever mechanic which adds a genuine sense of tension to the game and elevates it above other similar ones. Frightmare is a highly decent spin on the platform genre and while much of it is familiar from releases like Metroid and Mega Man, the time aspect is a much appreciated element while the inclusion of extra weapons and items to collect is a standard but valuable feature. The visuals are gloriously old-school, with Dizzy-like sprites and environments that are chunky and almost eye-wateringly colourful and move around at a good pace. The sound is minimal as you'd expect but the controls are nice and responsive so overall, this is actually a solid platforming experience. It is easy to get lost though and is definitely one for gamers who like a challenge!