At it’s core Chiller is a horror-themed light gun game. Rather than have you squaring off against hordes of zombies, monsters, or robots, you’re just straight up murdering and torturing people. Literally. That’s the entire game. You are a torturer and your goal is to maim and mutilate pixelated people en route to a high score.
Perhaps most famous is the game getting an unauthorized port to the home consoles on the NES. Though it lacked the arcade’s higher quality visuals and sound, for a 1986 arcade game is translated pretty well to the NES. You could still slice someone’s head off, shoot the flesh off another, and spill gallons of blood on screen. Naked women in graveyards, heads being compressed and crushed… the grotesque list goes on.
One major thing the home console is missing from the arcade is the shotgun controller. It’s not really adding anything in terms of gameplay, but definitely ups the shock factor this game had to have around it if it was ever seen. I didn’t know this until researching a bit for this post (but I could assume as much), the game didn’t see a wide arcade release in North America due to the graphic nature.
Thinking critically of the game for a minute, I feel a big reason the game is looked down upon by most, while ultra violent games like Mortal Kombat are held in high regard comes down to gameplay. Quite simply, Chiller doesn’t have any. You’re just shooting stuff to get a score, which can be reason enough to play a game, but when there is copious amounts of violence on screen, what is the justification? Mortal Kombat, though absurd, at least showcases strong gameplay and a cohesive world where the violence finds its home. Chiller is violent literally for the sake of being violent.
Anyway, on the topic of the arcade cabinet I was honestly pretty shocked Galloping Ghost had it. Not because of the violence (it’s tame and comical by today’s standards), but because I didn’t think an arcade cabinet even existed! A gem this is not, but a highlight for an arcade it certainly is.
*Played at Galloping Ghost Arcade, Brookfiled, IL 2019