The Game: You’re Leatherface, the notorious killer, and your job is pretty simple: track down those meddling teenagers (a prerequisite for every horror flick) and slice ‘n’ dice them with your chainsaw. Simple enough, right? It would be if not for obstacles that block your path (some of which you can also dispose of with your chainsaw), and the fact that – get this – these kids scream and run away from you. The nerve! But you can sever that nerve, and all the others, with your chainsaw…at least until it runs out of fuel. (Wizard, 1983)
Memories: Wizard Games was a short-lived outfit that sprang up during that fleeting, fertile window of time when it seemed like anyone could make a mint doing Atari 2600 games – or at least everyone thought they could. With this and a similar game based on John Carpenter’s legendary Halloween (in which the player tried to escape from killer Michael Myers), Wizard put itself on the map instantly. Not with great games, mind you, but with pure controversy: at the time, these games were decried for gore and violence! Grand Theft Auto and Wolfenstein 3-D they’re not – if anything, instead of reducing Leatherface’s victims to entrails winds up looking more like you’re transforming each of them into a hamster stuck in an hourglass. But the intent was clear, and at the time it caused an uproar and focused a lot of attention on Wizard’s software offerings.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Texas Chainsaw Massacre shares two things in common with the equally-reviled “adult game” Custer’s Revenge – they gained their notoriety by sheer shock value alone, and they’re barely fun as games. Though arguably, the Wizard games have a little more replay value.