Nosferatu (Seta, 1994)
So, the first SNES I owned was in 1999. I was a Sega guy during the competing time period, but eventually I got a used SNES from a friend. He threw in a handful of games... Super Mario World, F-Zero, Zelda... Nosferatu? You can guess which one I tried first when I got home. I still consider it a top note for the SNES, and a great topic to usher us into October.
Published by Seta in October of 1994, Nosferatu wouldn't be released in America for another year. It got mixed but mostly positive reviews, many citing its dark, cinematic atmosphere and challenging gameplay as strong points. Nosferatu caught some heat for its controls and its combat system; they took some getting used to but could be used to good effect once mastered.
Now, what comes to mind (and rightly so) when the term “Nosferatu” gets thrown about is the 1922 FW Murnau silent film, perhaps specifically Max Schreck's awe-inspiring portrayal of Count Orlok from said film. Sadly, we'll find this to have nothing at all to do with the film, but it is almost as classy. I say almost because our protagonist in the game does a good deal of fighting the living dead with his hands and feet. It's not classy, but it's insanely badass.
If a trope ain't broke, don't fix it... Nosferatu took your gal. That's the entire plot. Apparently he's really bad about this kind of thing. While you're up there, see if you could talk to him about all the bloodsucking.
After you fall into some kind of trap door right inside the castle gate, you've got a timer ticking down and little gargoyle men after you. Naturally, you fell in a dungeon, so there's pits and ledges, and of course, TRAPS. So you can see what kind of game this will be right from the start. Everything's a puzzle, but you've got your blood and guts, too; our hero has a surprisingly fast set of hands and is in very good shape. So the job of the day (night?) is to reach where Nosferatu's got your lady friend, getting there in one piece. Needless to say, his whole realm is a hellish place. There's the undead trying to add you to their ranks, and there's away to deal with them, but it's easy to get carried away and hurt. The game requires careful strategy and a bit of thought as you pick your way through.
The graphics are pretty amazing, especially the bits of cinematic we get. Lots of high quality background and animation work, especially on little baddies and the like. I feel like in places, the music falls short. Most of the tracks are good horror music; they build tension and convey stress. Some of the tracks just sound... dated, I guess, but it's good where it counts.
I give Nosferatu for the SNES a 7 out of 10. It was an underrated but forward-thinking title that came out at a weird time for the console, but like the (unrelated) 1922 silent film, it still has its fans to this day. There was a great adventure game in there, and they did a lot right. Don't let this one slip through the cracks.