2600 Terrors: Horror Games for the Atari 2600

Monsters on land, sea, and space

Atari 2600

Here's a great list of retro horror games for the Atari 2600, filled with giant monsters on land, sea, space, and in backwoods with a family that sells a suspicious flavor of barbecue meat.

Sea Monster

Giant sea creatures have been destroying innocent sailing vessels, and being the lover of the sea that you are, your mission is to destroy all life within it. Float your boat back and forth, as you aim and drop missiles at the aquatic monstrosities that pass by, one of which looks like it was pulled right out of "Space Invaders." Unlike real sea life, these monsters shoot back. If hit by one of their shots, your ship is more than just sunk, it explodes.

Shark Attack (Lockjaw)

Another horror game ripping off "Pac-Man" has you collecting diamonds in a maze as a killer shark comes constantly swimming through. Not only will this toothy critter gobble you up if given half the chance, but he also snags a diamond for himself each time he makes it across the screen. But this finny fiend isn't your only worry. All that underwater racket has woken up Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, who will chase you around the screen until you trick her into a cave at one of the four corners of the maze (where the power pellets use to be).

Spider Fighter

These creepy crawlies are here to suck blood and steal your fruit. Well, actually these giant spiders are just trying to steal your fruit. To save your produce from the eight-legged freaks, you shoot 'em down in gameplay that is a cross between "Galaga" and "Centipede."


It's just like the action horror movie, only far more frustrating. As a big game hunter, your killing all sorts of animals from crocodiles to what appears to be hippos, but the one predator that has its eye on hunting you is a giant killer snake. Imagine playing centipede, but in the center of the screen instead of the bottom, and the centipede (in this case a giant snake) is coming at you from all sides. Each time you shoot the snake it splits into two smaller snakes (the developers must have confused snakes with worms), so you must blow away all the snake pieces as well.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

One of the most violent and controversial games for the Atari 2600 was mostly sold from behind the counter under lock and key. Which was no big surprise seeing that it has you Leatherface out chasing, chopping, slicing and dicing a little girl with your handy-dandy chainsaw.

Worm War I

When giant killer worms overrun your city, the only thing you can do is climb into your army tank, gas it up, and blow those slithering slime bags to smithereens. In what feels like a simplified version of "River Raid," you must drive your tank through town while being careful not to crash into walls or touch one of the enormous worms as they quickly slink their way across the screen. You must also constantly refuel at the passing Pagoda Gas stations, or else break down and watch as the city is overrun with more worms than a pound puppy.


Inspired by the horror/sci-fi/action movie, the coin-op arcade game Xenophobe delivers the video game experience fans wanted but was missing from officially licensed Alien games, the Xenophobe created a unique single and multiplayer experience to arcades. The screen was split into thirds, allowing each player to have their own unique experience.

The Atari 2600 port was one of the systems last commercially released games in North America. While it couldn't come close to matching the graphically intense side-scrolling shooter that graced video arcades and 8-bit consoles, it stands as a fun novelty as they somehow took quite a few creative approaches in transitioning the game mechanics.