We are in the far 1983, Cinematronics developed a game that evolved the actual gaming, Animated by the ex-Disney animator Don Bluth.
It was Dragon's Lair, a game that used the great technology of the LaserDisc home video platform.
Sadly not the first LaserDisc arcade game (the first one was Sega's Astron Belt), but a real sucess it was in that period, enough to sparkle home ports and sequels. But not only these, the succes brough many arcade companies to use the LaserDisc technology for their own arcade games.
In 1984, Atari, attempted to develop an arcade LaserDisc based interactive movie, but with fatality. The project got aborted soon as the game was complete and letting the existence of this unrelased game fading into the darkness.
The game was named "Thrill Zone" and it was supposed to be an survival horror, category of videogames that formed in 1982 with Roberta and Ken Williams's "Mystery House" and that Atari had alredy did made a game of this category in the same 1982 with their "Haunted House". The game would have used live action graphic for being more disturbing that any other early survival horror.
Now, it's time to talk about the gameplay.
The first thing that jumps on eye is the opening, it looks we are viewing some VHS footage. It starts with the VCR blue screen, wich becomes black and after some seconds it views the title of the game in the same fonts of the words in the blue screen of the VCR blue screen along with the usual sound that display when a VHS is over for then disappear and show some white bars in the black screen for least than 2 seconds for then leave the black screen alone, and it repeats, along with the classic flashing "Insert Coin" and Atari's copyright line. No demo gameplay or High Scores appears, it just repeats the opening. Neither a sound can be heard once you insert a coin, Just the "Insert Coin" changes into "Press 1P to start".
Once we start this game, we can see that it is in first person and its set in a dark and old enclosed place with some strange slow down distorted sound that sounds like some sort of music. In the corner the only thing that appears is a timer in a big black rectangle but no presence of score or lifes, exactly, we have only one life. Just like in Dragon's Lair (mentioned at the beggining) the player can execute an action by selecting an direction. Or frightening journey starts from some stairs where we should go to the downstairs thoug a big room and go thoug a corridour, once we are in the corridour we will meet our enemy, A tall anthropomorhic thin shadow figure which, just like in every survival horror, will try to get us. Where our actions must be executed with correct timing. The rest of the game is made entirely of a maze of stairs, rooms, corridours and doors where the creature continues to try to find you. What happens when we lose? You realy want to know it? We allways lose in two occasions, if the creature get us or if the time ends. it will allways happen the same thing. we will see some interference and then a black screen for 3 seconds. Then, a disturbing dishuman face (evidently the face of the creature that reach us) pops up along with a monstrous scream, wich would have caused heart attacks to the player, and then the classic "Game Over". By the way, let's return to the game. After some corridours, rooms, stairs, doors and moments where that creatures reach us, to the gameplay those other disturbing things adds on the gameplay. The corridours and rooms will be decorated with stuffed human corpses, most of these were mauled or worked on to look disturbing, wich would had traumatizzed the player. And after some corridour and rooms that shows these horrible spectacles we come to the end of this atrocious journey. After a long corridour without those corpses, we will find a door we will automaticaly open, once entered insite the door, we will see the most horrible thing we have seen on this game, a naked corpse of a bald woman on a bathub filled with blood. Then everything will be cut into a black screen and then the words "End".
Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney were attempted to being interviewed somewhere in 1984 about the cancelled game, but they denied the existence of a game named "Thrill Zone".
Unsatisfied, some of the interviewers sent some investigators to indagate on the game. The investigators found on the Atari studios on a drawer locked on a room an old VHS in bad conditions with written on it "Convert and edit". Despite it's condiions, the tape could be still viewed, on the tape they found the original footage of the game. Wich instead of the distorted backgound on the game there was the voice and the pantings of the recorder and instead of the black retangle with the timer theres the date of the record of the fotage, 10/03/1977, at the end, after the bald woman corpse in the bathub is viewed, the camera starts to inquadrate slowly the back and then the interference and the frightening face that pops up.
The voice of the recorder in the tape hasn't been recognized with nobody of the Atari staff.
The voice is not yet identified.