Chiller, Commodore 64

Chiller is a simple platform game set over five different screens, and the aim is to rescue your girlfriend who is located in a haunted house at the end of the game. You jump around and collect ‘magic crosses’ to transition to the next screen. An energy bar indicates the player’s health. Touching enemies, or red mushrooms, depletes health, and collecting pink mushrooms increases it. If the bar reaches zero it’s game over – you only have one life.

The original Commodore 64 version of Mastertronic‘s Chiller contains two major faults. Firstly: it used unauthorised snippets of Michael Jackson‘s Thriller in its in-game music, which resulted in some sort of legal action. Secondly: the game was riddled with bugs, making it impossible to complete.

As far as the music’s concerned: Mastertronic were forced to change it (and I also read that they had to make some sort of payment in settlement, but I can’t confirm whether that is true or not – it’s just rumor). I’ve heard the original music and it does sound a little bit like Thriller, but it’s only a tiny snippet. Still: the developers shouldn’t have done it because it was an easy thing to spot. As far as the bugs are concerned: thankfully homebrew hackers have fixed those in more recent versions. The position of some of the crosses made them impossible to collect, making some screens unfinishable.

When the boy reaches the end of the fifth screen, and rescues the girl, you then have to go backwards, through all the previous screens, collecting crosses for both the boy and the girl. The boy collects blue crosses and the girl collects red crosses. You switch between the two characters by pressing fire.

Chiller was designed and coded by David and Richard Darling, who later went on found Codemasters, and the music in the C64 version was provided by David Dunn. The game was obviously made to follow the plot of Michael Jackson‘s Thriller, because the five screens (The Forest, The Cinema, The Ghetto, The Graveyard, and The Haunted House) all feature in the film.

Overall, Chiller is a poor game that isn’t much fun to play, even for a budget title (which it was, costing a mere £1.99 in 1984, when it was first released). The graphics are dodgy; the gameplay is lacklustre, and there really isn’t much to it.

See also: Chiller 2.

More: Chiller on CSDb

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