• Film: 1990, Walt Disney Studios 
  • Game: 1991, Walt Disney Computer Software (C64 version disk only) 
  • Reviews here, cover art and adverts here 

If Ghostbusters is the movie tie-in every C64 lover has played, US disk only treasure Arachnophobia is the one almost nobody has. The super rare 1991 US game didn’t get a UK release from European rights holders Titus, and a source tells us that it just hadn’t been possible to get it working well enough for “cassette land” in time to take advantage of the film’s publicity (even the disk version was very late, almost never seeing daylight itself). 

Arachnophobia is a slick black comedy about a newly discovered Venezuelan spider which finds its way to a small town in America, reproduces and starts killing people one by one. In the game you work for John Goodman’s character Delbert, who runs the only company capable of taking down the threat. 

Look familiar? In Arachnophobia you drive your van to the infested house you pick on the map, not unlike Ghostbusters. It’s a much bigger game, though, and because you can pick where you go at random before the level loads in it’d be a nightmare on tape. Titus said no, but still said yes to Dick Tracy in the same month (and you thought you’d gotten through an article without us mentioning the D game – Ed)

Working for the film’s extermination business isn’t the only similarity to Ghostbusters. When you arrive in a town you have an overhead map and must choose where to go in your van to kick spider arse. It’s then that the 2D arcade action begins, as you use your bug-o-meter to find the spiders in every house. Eventually you get to explore other buildings like schools and cemeteries before a very long drive to South America to take out the eight legged freaks at the source. 

“Spiders fall on your head, forcing you to frantically waggle left and right like you’re trying to activate the Creatures cheat mode.”

The Ghostbusters influence is clear, then, but this is a game crammed full of neat ideas of its own. The slapstick horror of the film is sickeningly recreated when spiders fall onto your head, forcing you to frantically waggle left and right like you’re trying to activate the Creatures cheat mode. Spider webs won’t trap you but they will slow you down by getting in your face, and if you hear a shriek you can run off to save a nearby arachnophobe for a bonus. The funny thing is that as exciting as this all sounds, the slow plodding around every house meant the game only picked up average reviews across most systems. It’s a collect ‘em up, really, except you gas what you find instead of keeping it. If it’s your thing, you’ll love it. But set pieces aside, it’s a bit uneventful. Its status as a rare early ‘90s US game, though, and its lack of availability outside the States, makes it a worthy curious download. CF