Chiller was an evil arcade game released by Exidy way back in 1986.

The story

This is one of the most cruel and violent arcade games ever made, Mortal Kombat and Death Race have nothing on this one. I have no idea how this game was ever released. You spend most of your time in this game shooting people who are tied up, and the graphics are very realistic (for 1986 at least). There is even a spot of nudity on the final level (breasts). This is one of the few games out there that truly disturbs me.

The game

This is a gun game, and there are four different screens (plus two different bonus screens). The object is simply to shoot everything in sight (and to try and locate any hidden targets on the screen). The game is based on time, and the timer moves faster when you are shooting poorly.

The first screen is a torture chamber. There are four (still living) human targets on this screen. From left to right they are; a man chained to the wall, a person in a guillotine (shoot the top of the guillotine to decapitate them), a woman strapped in a strange machine, and a man in a head vise (shoot the vise to crush his head). The rest of the room is strewn with blood and loose body parts. You don't simply shoot each target once, instead you shoot each part of the target, which reduces that part to a mess of blood and bones. This is thankfully the most disturbing level in the game (who wrote this anyway?).

The second room is another torture chamber with a river of blood flowing through the middle. This one has five human targets; a man strapped to a board, a man chained to the floor, two people on stretching racks (shoot the wheels to pull them apart), and a woman hung from rope over the river (shoot a pulley to slowly lower her into the river to be eaten by crocodiles). Body parts will flow down the river randomly, and a man will pop out of a door from time to time to toss a blade into one of the helpless victims.

The third level is a haunted house hallway. There is only one human victim on this level. It is a woman who runs from one doorway to another, shoot out the trapdoor to cause her to fall inside (and then shoot the beast that was chasing her). Your other targets are mostly assorted ghosts, and a few random body parts that will fall from the ceiling.

The final level is a graveyard. Your only human victim on this level is a woman who is half buried in the ground, shooting her torso multiple times strips off her clothing until she is topless, and the last shot kills her. You other targets are bats, hands that pop up from the ground, and a man who pulls a cart full of body parts (you can't kill him, shooting him just makes him run away, only to return later).

The game repeats the levels over and over again until you manage to find every secret target on each screen (it gives you hints inbetween levels). Finding all the targets on a single screen earns you a bonus game (a slot machine), while finding all the hidden targets in the game gives you the second bonus game (a shooting gallery), and a free game.

The Machine

This game was available as either a dedicated cabinet or a a conversion kit for other Exidy gun games (which used the same cabinet anyway). The marquee had a green "Chiller" logo on a purple nighttime background (it looks like the title screen to a cheap horror movie). The control panel overlay has similar graphics (and game instructions), along with pictures of various body parts.

The game is controlled by a large optical gun that is fixed to the control panel where it can only fire into the machine. The monitor itself was hidden deep inside the machine, instead it was displayed on a mirror. That seemed to be a common thing on gun games, although I am unsure as to why it was done that way (perhaps to lengthen the path the light had to travel?).

Where to play

You can play this title using the MAME emulator, you will need a mouse or trackball, as there are still not any MAME compatible light guns on the market (there is one that emulates a mouse, but it is rather hard to find, and doesn't work correctly with MAME).

Gun games are always good for any arcade game collection. But you may be put off by the theme of the game (if you aren't, then rest assured knowing that you will eventually offend someone with this game). This title is too uncommon to set a price on, but gun games are rarely cheap. If you are going to purchase one, then examine it carefully, and make sure the gun is in perfect working order (replacement guns cost big money). This title runs on the same hardware (and with the same wiring harness), as all the other Exidy gun games, so you can easily install several other titles inside a Chiller cabinet (like Crossbow).

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