Each persons subconscious stores primeval memories which seep into our dreams. Frightmare dares the player to step into this psychic abyss and surrender to fears in the landscape of their darkest imaginings.
The nightmare takes place over a period of eight and a half hours in the supernatural environment of four dream zones, travelling through a surreal world of ruined, crumbling statues, networks of skeleton trees and rooms of blood-red skulls. In true dream fashion the ability to jump is weirdly enhanced - death by falling is a strange impossibility.
This dreamscape is haunted by the victims of five ancestral tales and legends. Contact with any one of them means the loss of one of the dreamer's five lives. Ranging from zombies to scarlet disembodied hands, these can be countered by a series of collectable weapons. Holy water kills all monsters instantly; revolvers (for which you also need to collect bullets), crucifixes and random potions have a more selective effect. Other icons increase your ability to jump, represent extra lives, and allow you to warp to different rooms.
As the inner self is penetrated, the dream state, recorded in letters at the top of the screen, alter accordingly. Beginning with a 'bad dream' the state slowly advances to finally become a 'nefarious frightmare'. After that all you have to do is wake up.
Each new room visited moves the clock on by six minutes; at 8.12 am the frightmare is over and the harrowed dreamer awakes.
'I didn't know that my darkest dreams were full of badly drawn characters, colour clash and irritating gameplay, but that's what the Frightmare adverts say, so it must be true! The best thing about Frightmare is the inlay, full of ghostly descriptions of the inhabitants of the frightmare itself. The game itself is the pits. The animated ghosties flicker all the time and none of them look remotely scary. Many of the screens are similar and range from bare to bland. The best graphics in the game are on the title screen with the word 'Frightmare' scrawled across the top. If you are looking for a ghosty game then this isn't the one for you. The now aging Ghosts 'n' Goblins is far ahead of this.'
'Like a recurring dream, the promotion of Frightmare has been haunting the magazines with monotonous regularity for months. Unfortunately, the realisation is never as good as the dream. Nevertheless, Frightmare is entertaining enough. The macabre graphics create a fittingly ghoulish atmosphere and even the control method - somewhere between jumping and floating - is expressive of the surreal ambience. The real nightmare, however, is the price. As a platform arcade adventure it's hardly a pioneering breed. Unremarkable spot effects, messy collision detection and slightly clumsy controls mean that it doesn't even rank as one of the best of its type. Frightmare can get very addictive, but £9.95 is a high price to pay for some fairly standard fare.'
'Thank goodness my worst nightmares aren't half as creepy as the guys in this game! Graphically, Frightmare is pretty good. Of particular note is the loading screen picture, based on the cassette inlay. The in-game graphics are also quite good, with some rather nasty looking adversaries to be either killed or avoided. Although the game is initially playable, with a very athletic hero bouncing around the screen, I soon discovered that it was little more than a 'run around collecting enough objects to continue through to the next, even more bizarre part of the nightmare' type of game. Although quite chilling at first, sadly I found that tedium soon sets in.'