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A World of Games: The Spectre Files: Deathstalker

Not only does Galloping Ghost Arcade seemingly have every conceivable arcade game out there, they even have some unreleased games as well. Fully playable on their arcade floor. That is exactly what we’re going to look at today in the never-released LaserDisc game The Spectre Files: Deathstalker.

First, a bit of background from the game I found while researching this entry. The game was originally filmed and created in the mid 80s, but never saw a physical release. Much like other narrative driven LaserDisc games at the time (like Dragon’s Lair or Mad Dog McCree for example), Deathstalker is a choose your own adventure style quick action game. If you pick a wrong route, you’ll be sent back to try again and get it right. Through a collaboration with the game’s designer and Galloping Ghost Arcade themselves, the game was produced and created in the late 2010s.

I am not sure if the game was purposefully made to be a cheesy 80s movie… or if it was just a movie from the 80s that was ironically cheesy, but this game is silly beyond belief. You act as a supernatural private eye investigating a mystery surrounding a supposedly abandoned mansion. Before long you encounter spooky folk, oddities beyond normal explanation, and some demonic forces. The whole game is filmed in live action, meaning you’re seeing 80s movie quality video for every scene. The actors, settings, props, and everything in between oozes that 80s nostalgia some of you might remember fondly. I for one found it humorous!

The gameplay is fairly simple: throughout the story you are given prompts to select in order to progress the story forward. These are reactive to whatever is happening in the story at the moment. For example, you might be asked to go into the house through the front door, the window, or through a door in the back. Depending on what you choose, the story will progress one of many different ways. There isn’t really a strategy here though as many of the choices are arbitrary and random. Even though there’s a candle available to take, it might not be the right choice to do so. Still though, it creates a fun story even if you fail, and incentives you to keep playing. If I were having to pay quarter after quarter to keep trying though, I would move on much sooner than I did.

The cabinet itself is a fun throwback to what you might expect to see from arcade cabinets at the time, complete with cartoony artwork on the sides and a unique controller overlay. The buttons are the only thing that look a bit out of place to me. There are three of them, and they’re jut large colored plastic pieces you might see on a redemption game to stop a wheel or something. Not a huge gripe or anything, but it could have been a cool addition to make the game more immersive with more intricate buttons.

I think it’s amazing this game made it to an actual arcade floor. Without the work of dedicated arcade enthusiasts, this game would have gone on without ever being played by anyone. I don’t think the game is going to be winning any awards, but it’s a neat experience nonetheless. How often can you play a game billions of people will never have the chance to experience!


*Played at Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfield, IL 2019


I've been writing about video games for years and playing them even longer. You'll find me playing all types of games, old and new. Mega Man III is greater than Mega Man II.