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Our Favorite Halloween Gaming Traditions

Every year we all pick a pumpkin and watch some spooky movies, but most importantly, we all continue to play a specific game.



best Halloween video games traditions

The Best Video Games to Play on Halloween

It’s almost Halloween, our autumnal tradition of celebrating the supernatural! We have collected some of our staff’s favorite videogame Halloween traditions. From eldritch horrors to kooky ghosts; whether you want to fear for your life or revel in gothic ambiance, here’s your playlist for the season. These are some of the Goomba Stomp staff’s Halloween gaming traditions!

Choosing Which of Luigi’s Mansions to Settle in

Goomba Stomp's favorite Halloween games: SOMA, Luigi's Mansion, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Return of the Obra Dinn, MediEvil
Image: Nintendo

Since I was an innocent child who was for some reason scared of E.T., there have always been two things that have always ushered in the season of haunted festivities for me: It’s the Great Pumpkin and Mario’s younger brother. While setting aside time to replay games has become more and more difficult over the years, Luigi’s Mansion has always been a sinisterly sweet adventure–and now adventures–that has instantly helped me ease into the atmosphere of the Fall season and get in the mood to watch the good Ghostbusters films.

In my younger days, there was only one Luigi’s Mansion to play every year, but now–and this one is a great problem I am thankful to have–deciding which entry of the series to play when I have the time has become increasingly difficult. All three Luigi’s Mansion entries have their own sense of identity and gameplay structure that make them compelling to play for their own specific reasons. Despite each one becoming larger in scale and spectacle, Nintendo’s efforts to tackle different locations and forms of exploration make each game worth coming back to time and time again. Perhaps the distinct atmospheres alone though most importantly justify which game I will venture back into.

The eerie grand prize mansion of the GameCube’s debut entry feels like a classic horror film, the sillier and bombastic Dark Moon houses on the 3DS bring are strikingly cheerful, and the haunted resort of the Nintendo Switch’s third game blends the two former experiences together for something that nicely rides down the middle. No matter which one you choose to play, there is no doubt that Luigi’s ghostbusting adventures will help bring on the feelings of Halloween. And also, sorry Frakenweenie, but the Polterpup is Halloween’s best boy and you can’t convince me otherwise. (Marc Kaliroff)

MediEvil Still Remains a Journey to Die For

MediEvil Still Remains a Journey to Die For
Image: PlayStation

There is no other game that screams Halloween to me, quite like MediEvil. The adventure of Sony’s once mascot, the skeletal Sir Daniel Fortesque, is one that takes us through the very spirit of the holiday in location, cast, and stylings. Since its release in the fall season of 98’, MediEvil (and its sequel) has become one of my favorite Halloween gaming traditions to take a spooky stroll through.

I first played MediEvil on a demo disc and was immediately and completely enthralled by its moody gothic architecture, enchanting locales, eerie characterization, witty humor, and its redemptive tale of a one-eyed, undead knight brought back from the dead. Sir Daniel’s journey involves lost crypts with talking gargoyles and hordes of zombies, haunted organs and a stain-glass demon, living scarecrows among corn fields that hide deadly creatures, living hedge mazes surrounding an asylum, giant pumpkin fields and insects, an evil necromancer for a villain and the ghosts of fallen comrades ripe with British humor. This is all backed by a Tim Burton-esque flair, and a Danny Elfman-inspired score. It’s a continuously rewarding and engaging adventure.

What truly stands out above it all and keeps me returning time after time, is the personal story of Sir Daniel with its themes of heroism and redemption, along with his absolute charm. Having fallen at the start of the battle against Zarok with an arrow to the eye, Sir Daniel is not a practiced knight, (reflected by his sword animations) but finding himself now undead has proved quite a benefit. Watching Sir Daniel tackle each new obstacle, gradually growing his arsenal and earning the respect of his ghostly peers is a tale that is timeless.

Whether you play the original or the 2019 1:1 remake, the journey through the world Gallowmere is one of the best haunted houses you can tour through this Halloween. (Geordi Ferguson)

Redesigning and Refurnishing for Animal Crossing October Festivities

Goomba Stomp's favorite Halloween games: Luigi's Mansion, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Animal Crossing
Marty Allen’s own Animal Crossing island!

Animal Crossing is a series of constant traditions. Whether you and your resident are checking in or not, its real-time clock rolls ever forward, ticking off seasons and their celebrations with the dizzying tenacity of an actual life. October is no exception, and much like in the real world, it is a favorite time for me on my animal island. In many ways, the real joy of October in Animal Crossing is in the simple changing of the seasons. Pumpkins appear and leaves turn orange and brown, and despite the lack of any real consequences, you’re hard-pressed not to dress your little adorable villager in a little adorable sweater and go shiver by the beach with some cocoa.

And then there’s Halloween. Like with most major holidays in Animal Crossing, for Halloween a mysterious emissary arrives in your town square, and Jack the Halloween Czar is the coolest of them all. A spooky Dude with a pumpkin for a head, he encourages you to scare your fellow villagers, dress up, give candy, and get Halloween-themed items like spooky rugs and garland in return. Work hard enough and you’ll even get a Spooky Carriage that, like all vehicles in Animal Crossing, you can neither enter nor drive. But it looks great next to a fake Monet.

But we all know the real horror of Animal Crossing–specifically, New Leaf and New Horizons. It’s the dread of returning after you haven’t faced Isabelle’s judging eyes in four to eight months. But Halloween is a great reason to swallow your fear and jump back in. Bring your ax and show those Villagers that you don’t care about their judgment. And then dress up as a zombie bunny and wear a pumpkin mask. Animal Crossing is still there for it is an endless tradition awaiting you. If you dare! (Marty Allen)

The Castle Always Calls With Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Goomba Stomp's favorite Halloween games: SOMA, Luigi's Mansion, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Return of the Obra Dinn, MediEvil
Image: Konami

In 1997, when Konami still cared about their videogames, a small team of now-immortalized Japanese developers put together one of the most spectacular Metroidvanias ever made. Directed by Toru Hagihara and Koji Igarashi himself, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night blended the beautiful gothic visuals of previous 2D titles with modernized 3D meshes and animations. This melding of dimensions and Ayami Kojima’s beautiful art created a jaw-dropping world for the time that still looks (and feels) as surreal as it did then.

Basically, in conventional Castlevania fashion, Dracula has once again erected his hellish castle in our timeline and it’s the player’s job to banish it back to the shadow realm. This time, instead of a Belmont, the player controls Alucard. Being the son of the castle’s king himself, Alucard has many powerful vampiric abilities to discover on his journey. From turning into familiars to phasing through walls, Symphony of the Night plays like a vampire fantasy that grips you from beginning to end as you slowly chip away at its intricate map.

First setting foot in the world, I was bathed in Michiru Yamane’s timeless soundtrack. A sonorous backdrop to my entrancing ushering. Both physically and in-game, I was sucked into a world I simply couldn’t leave. The claustrophobic waltz through the castle made me feel utterly engaged up to the game’s “true” ending (which I recommend you get!). It was like being in a haunted house as a child and thinking it totally real. New weapons, abilities, and threats around every corner create a self-sustaining loop that I recommend everyone try; especially around Halloween, when communing with ghouls and ghosts feels just a little bit closer. (Adam Beik)

Falling Back into SOMA’s Unsettling Trap

best Halloween video games
Image: Frictional Games

One of my absolute favorite horror titles has to be the indie gem SOMA. I came to it late–playing it just last October, in fact–but like all the best horrors, it stuck with me long after I put the controller down. There is something deeply unsettling about being trapped in the depths of the ocean. SOMA’s underwater research stations are tight and claustrophobic, constantly creaking, groaning, and leaking under the strain of the immense pressure pushing down on them.

And something truly terrible appears to have happened within them, with blood and bodies around every corner, and strange black masses oozing out of the walls and wires. Yet stepping outside grants no relief; the vastness and darkness of the ocean floor echo that of the void of space, and the constant fear that something else may be lurking, just out of sight, quickly has you longing for those claustrophobic corridors and the shambling shapes that dwell within. But as frightening as the setting is, it’s the questions SOMA throws at the player that really start to get under the skin.

Questions like, what does it mean to be human? Or to be alive? Should we seek immortality, even at the cost of the physical self? And if there are two perfect copies of the same mind – does it matter which one came first? And even though they share the same thoughts and experiences, are they still the same person, or did they split when the copy was made? Once existential horror grabs a hold of you, it doesn’t let go. Yes, there are creatures to stalk the player, too – twisted abominations of man and machine, the result of an AI’s simple misunderstanding – but it’s in watching the characters of this world struggle to comprehend what is happening to them and fail to grasp that copying the consciousness is not the same as transferring it, where the true horror really lies. (Max Longhurst)

Zombies Ate My Neighbors: That Dusty Mixtape Under The Passenger Seat

best Halloween video games
Image: Disney Interactive

Zombies Ate My Neighbors is a celebration of all things horror, a proverbial greatest hits album that is distinctive and reminiscent of those trips down the road to the drive-in theater. Any kid that grew up sitting in the dark watching B-movies in the glow of the television or reading issues of “Weird Tales” by flashlight will immediately feel at home. Whether that is the classic stylings of The Blob, giant ants from Them!, body snatchers, and killer plants or slasher boom villains like murderous Chucky-esque dolls, and hockey-masked men with chainsaws, Zombies Ate My Neighbors has it all. But Zombies is not truly a horror game, it’s a cheery, humorous, and playful tribute to all these things carving a unique identity that is fresh and still as fun today as it was back in 98.

It’s the little details that make this title shine. The levels all have great names like “The Day The Earth Ran Away”, “Mars Needs Cheerleaders”, “Nightmare on Terror Street”, and “Where The Red Fern Growls”. The priorities of our teenage hero are glimpsed in rescuing cheerleaders giving more points than his angry teacher. While the water gun and soda can grenades are great all around, using the weed whacker is better on the killer plants, the crucifix on vampires, and throwing the silverware takes out werewolves with ease. Every facet of the game works beautifully together.

No matter my Halloween season line-up I always make room for Zombies Ate My Neighbors. (Geordi Ferguson)

Getting Immersed in Lovecraftian Terror With Return of the Obra Dinn

best Halloween video games
Image: Studio 3909

Halloween is in the air, and nothing quite says “Spooky Season” like a game about corporate bureaucracy. Honestly, what could be more terrifying than assuming the role of an insurance inspector? Well, when said insurance inspector is investigating the fabled Obra Dinn, it can be quite terrifying, as fate would have it. Brought to us from solo auteur Lucas Pope, hot off the heels of his other bureaucratic nightmare Papers, Please, comes the bone-chilling Return of the Obra Dinn.

Playing on Lovecraftian themes of unknown terror, the story of the Obra Dinn plays out through something akin to an interactive slide show. We see the story unfold in disparate chunks, catching harrowing freeze-frames of the chaos, the mutiny, and the stomach-churning mayhem that has befallen the titular Obra Dinn, and the job of putting the bloody pieces together falls to us.

Reliving the crew’s final moments one gasp at a time proves a fascinating approach that serves to set Return of the Obra Dinn apart from a sea of horror games that often opt for far more traditional storytelling methods. It’s an incredible marriage of narrative and gameplay that finds a unique way of telling a story utilizing the specific strengths of its medium. It delivers its story in a way only video games can, and that embracing of ludonarrative deserves to be celebrated. (Dylan MacDougall)

Humans by birth. Gamers by choice. Goomba Stomp is a Canadian web publication that has been independently owned and operated since its inception in 2016.