Halloween has many traditions. The dressing up in costumes. The giving away of candy. Bobbing for apples. Pumpkin carving. Paying homage to Gorto. Now you can add one more holiday ritual to your already full plate of terror and merriment (terriment?): a race to the death. Halloween Racer for the Gameboy Color let’s you take Halloween and racing with you wherever you go. While the objective is as simple as winning the race, the ultimate test of Halloween Racer comes before the race begins. It is here that Halloween Racer’s true menace is revealed: the character selection screen.
Racer #1 – A Ghostly Suit of Armor Riding a Floating Triangle
A Halloween staple, the Ghostly Suit of Armor Riding a Floating Triangle (GSARFT), finds himself in a race in which he simply doesn’t belong. GSARFT doesn’t remember entering a race, signing a release form, or even what he ate for breakfast that morning. His companion, the aforementioned Floating Triangle, however, is a completely different story. A complete mute, the only language Floating Triangle knows is the language of speed, but she speaks with the eloquence of Garrison Keillor and the fervor of Gilbert Gottfried. She guides her witless friend GSARFT around the race track and keeps her silent vigil, never once asking for anything in return. We can all learn a little something from Floating Triangle.
Racer #2 – Scarecrow John
Scarecrow John is a bitter, bitter man. Just two consonants and one vowel away from being the life of the party, the guy everyone wants to hang out with: Scarecrow Joe. John is a ball of rage, wrapped in a layer of contempt, surrounded by a torrent of misanthropy, encased in a steel cage of slightly dick-ish. Rather than drive an interesting vehicle of some sort, Scarecrow John floats above the earth on apparent “magic legs”, like a hay filled Lt. Dan. I was tempted to suggest that Scarecrow John rides a futuristic hoverboard, but ever since Robert Zemekis duped us into thinking they were real in that The Making of Back to the Future featurette, I’ve been half a Scarecrow John myself. Thank god the news was broken by good Christian Kirk Cameron in his own The Making of Back to the Future featurette, not to be confused with the first The Making of Back to the Future featurette. Kirk later when on to star as Buck Williams in the Left Behind movie series, god bless him. Buck Williams, coincidentally, has the same name as the guy who played Forward for the Portland Trailblazers during the 80s and often practiced at my local gym. I mention this because one of Buck’s teammates was Kiki Vandewheghe, and I really like saying Kiki Vandewheghe.
Racer #3 – Just Witch
Our third racer is Just Witch. Just Witch is your pretty standard witch on a broom. There is nothing funny about Just Witch. She is perfectly ordinary. Does she ride a mop? Nope. Standard broom. In her navy blue jumpsuit, she races competitively, yet fairly, never daring to cheat or even trash talk her opponents. Upon being victorious, Just Witch is the picture of sportmanship, neither bragging or being overly modest. Were she to lose a race, Just Witch will gracefully admit defeat, whilst congratulating the winner on their fine racing skills. Just Witch annoys the piss out of me.
Halloween Racer plays out on a number of different venues that all look pretty much the same except for a change in background picture. If you remember playing Turbo on your Colecovision, you’ll know what you in for with Halloween Racer. Not since Turbo have I experienced such a sensation of sitting absolutely still and sliding back and forth avoiding obstacles while the road scrolls by underneath me as if on a conveyor belt. The obstacles you are tasked to dodge are the scariest things on a conveyor belt since Speedy Gonzales played an Easter trick on Daffy Duck at his south of the border chocolate bunny sweatshop.
Spiders webs litter the ground, tornadoes tear up the asphalt, and snails slowly inch their way across. That’s right, snails. Conveniently forgetting the fact that every single one of it’s racers floats above the ground, Halloween Racer makes you dodge those snails, or pay dearly.
A quick search reveals that snails and Halloween are connected in ways far greater than I imagined.