With Ash Vs. Evil Dead‘s second season premiering tonight, it got me thinking about all the Evil Dead video games. There weren’t a whole lot, mind you, but did you know they started way back in 1984? Hard to believe that the first film would get a game adaptation, but it’s true. To date, there are six Evil Dead games in total, some of which I’m sure you could find at a pawn shop or used game store, others you can get on your Android or iPhone, but the very first might be harder to find, especially considering the collector’s market. Let’s take a look at all of them, even though I can’t comment on the two Android and IOS games, because of I haven’t played them, but let’s start at the beginning
The Evil Dead (1984)
As I said earlier, it’s hard to believe the first Evil Dead film would get a video game adaptation. Of course now that’s pretty common place, but not for a low budget, gory horror film, but Palace Software took a look at the movie and turned it into a game for the Commodore 64. When I was in high school, I managed to pick up a Commodore 64 at a garage sale for $25 and The Evil Dead just so happened to be one of the games that it came with (along with about 50 other games, including Aliens and Friday the 13th). The game is about what you would expect. You play as Ash running around the cabin and shutting windows to keep the deadites out, but also killing any that got in. It was fun to see how long you could last, but outside that, I don’t remember much about it. I had fun, I can tell you that and it was a blast to play late at night with all the lights off and just hearing the old computer sounds, knowing I was playing The Evil Dead was a good enough thrill for me.
Evil Dead: Hail to the King (2000)
This is the one I’m sure most people are familiar with and played. It didn’t come out until 2000, late in Dreamcast’s and Playstation’s (now called the PS1) lifespan and took advantage of the series’ growing cult status and also the then popular Resident Evil style of game. The controls were horrid, graphics weren’t that great, but who cares? It’s Evil Dead! Not only was it fun to play as Ash, but his voice was recorded by Groovy Bruce Campbell himself! A smile would crack on my face every time he would say something. The story wasn’t too bad; Ash goes back to the cabin to face his demons, only to find out that it would be literally and halfway through the game, he was once again teleported back to the dark ages. There were finishing moves and upgrades, but since it was more of a survival horror game, you also had limited ammo and fuel for your chainsaw (which was a bummer), but it felt more in spirit with the first movie.
Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick (2003)
This entry and the next on the Playstation 2 and Xbox, however, stripped away the survival horror aspect and took notes out of Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness and focused more on the fun. VIS Entertainment did away with the limited chainsaw fuel and decided to let the player go nuts. Bruce Campbell returned again to voice Ash, who is telling the events via flashbacks of what happened after Evil Dead: Hail to the King. It’s basically a fetch game, meaning someone will tell you to retrieve an item, you go get it and bring it back. Rinse and repeat. Along the way, you encounter various deadites and bosses, so it wasn’t all bad. Plus, you have to once again love those one-liners.
Evil Dead: Regeneration (2005)
Oh boy, you now you’re in serious trouble when the subtitle to your franchise begins with the letter ‘R’. Regardless, it’s another Evil Dead game on the Playstation 2, Xbox and PC, this time placing Ash in a mental institution while someone reads the Necronomicon on live TV, thus opening a world of hell to everyone, so he escapes to stop it. Joining alongside Ash in this misadventure is a little deadite named Same, voiced by Ted Raimi. You would think that would be really cool and funny, but Sam spends his time making dead puns and Ash retorts with a murderous one-liner about how he would kill Sam. It wares thin pretty quick. This game is also difficult as hell and I’ve never beaten it, but perhaps I should give it a try again. This is also the last Evil Dead game that will appear on a console, which makes me sad.
Army of Darkness: Defense (2011)
From the subtitle alone, you can probably guess that this is a tower defense style game with an Army of Darkness theme to it, which is more than enough to satisfy fans of tower defense games who happen to love Evil Dead. Now, I can’t speak for myself because I have never played it, but it seems to have mixed reviews, although more seem in favor than most that don’t.
Evil Dead: The Game (2011)
Once again taking a cartoony look to the franchise, this one is a top down shooter, kinda like Loaded on the PS1 and Saturn or Dredd Vs. Zombies on Android and iOS. Evil Dead: The Game has Ash running through levels, like the cabin and the woods, running, gunning, hacking and slashing as well as rescuing some people. At least that’s what I can tell from the video. This one is only available on iOS, so I never had the chance to play it.
I should also mention that Ash appears as a non-playable character in Telltale Games’ Poker Night 2 and there is an unlockable Ash costume in Lollipop Chainsaw, but those aren’t official Evil Dead games. With a Friday the 13th game coming out on the next gen consoles and Steam (and being done right!), I remain hopeful that maybe we will get a new Evil Dead game. It’s been over ten years since we last saw one on a home console, so I think it’s about time.