When I think of the survival horror genre Resident Evil, Alone in the Dark and Silent Hill pop into my mind. Alone in the Dark was a major pioneer of the genre. Resident Evil took the concept and added in plenty of “shock scares” where zombie dogs jump through windows. Then Silent Hill came to the market, which was more of a psychological horror game than a zombie flick. While these might have been recent entries of the ever popular survival horror genre, there were similar games on the NES. In celebration of Halloween we’re going to look an 8-bit survival horror classic, Sweet Home.
If you’re scratching your head thinking “I’ve never heard of Sweet Home” you’re not alone. The Famicom game was developed by Capcom in 1989 and it is a distant relative of the Resident Evil series. Sweet Home begins with five characters that enter the mansion of recently deceased, but maniacal artist to find her fresco. The door locks behind them and they’re trapped in a haunted house. Sounds like Resident Evil doesn’t it? Unlike recent survival horror games Sweet Home played like an RPG. You would randomly encounter supernatural creatures and fight them by using a Dragon Quest style menu system. Instead of using mythical weapons, characters have “real world” professions. A nurse in your party acts as a healer and the producer (protagonist) uses a lighter to fight. If one of your five members die it’s over for them, no phoenix down, no 1-up mushroom. Sweet Home was one of the few games to have permadeath in the NES era. Your ending depends on how many characters survived the final battle. If Sweet Home was such an innovative game why didn’t it come to the States? Sweet Home is tied to a Japanese horror movie and licensing issues is the likely reason why Sweet Home never saw the light of day outside of Japan. However you can experience the game in English thanks to Gaijin Productions who released a translation patch.