The Halloween Grab Bag!
Satan's Hollow - A 1982 Arcade Game That Pits Spaceships Against The Devil!
by: Dr. Boogie

The battle between good and evil has been fought since time immemorial. For the most part, the battle has been over the souls of mankind, but as we see in the case of the 1982 arcade game Satan's Hollow, good and evil can also clash over land disputes: Satan says he owns this particular valley, and it's up to you and your giant artillery piece to prove him wrong.

At its most fundamental level, Satan's Hollow is like a manic, terrestrial version of Galaga. You fight off waves of enemies that dive and shoot at you, and each successive wave brings new enemy patterns and increased enemy speed and aggression. Satan's Hollow adds a couple extra hooks to this tried-and-true formula:

Advancing through waves is done by killing all the enemies, but your main objective is to build a bridge across a river of lava to your right using bridge segments you get from blasting said enemies. The bad news is that you'll have to defend yourself, and your bridge, as you build it.

The good news is that you have a shield you can use to block enemy bullets and destroy enemies that get too close! The other bad news is that your shield only works for a limited time. The other good news is that your shield recharges whenever you aren't using it!

The other, other bad news is that daylight gradually wanes as you fight until you're fighting in total darkness:

The other, other good news is that... fighting against such imposing odds makes success that much more rewarding. Right? Right.

Basic enemies come in two flavors: dragons with acorn-shaped heads.

And some kind of goblin thing with an owl's head that throws glowing eggs:

But what about Satan, you ask? This is Satan's Hollow, is it not? When do you get to face off with the Prince of Darkness himself? Turns out, quite early on...

Wow, it's only been three waves, and I've already penetrated into the deepest depths of the horned goatman's hoary hollow!

They say the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn't exist.


The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was the one where he breathes a huge column of flame out of his disembodied head:

The second greatest trick the devil ever pulled was that "not existing" thing. The third greatest devil's trick is adopting an angrier facial expression the longer you avoid his #1 greatest trick:

On the plus side, he does become a much bigger target this way. Then again, it looks like the devil's fury at being unable to flame broil you will continue until it boils over and he unleashes some absolutely devastating special attack.

When Satan's face reaches its maximum rage capacity, he unleashes his rage... by leaving. Sure, it seems anticlimactic, but we're talking about the Master of Evil. Doesn't it make sense that his most powerful ability is one that makes you, the player, feel disappointed and unfulfilled? That's metagaming right there: an enemy that ignores your character and attacks you, the player.

So you've blasted the devil apart, or at the very least annoyed him until he left. What about that whole bridge-building aspect of the game? Ostensibly, the goal of the game is to build those bridges and cross them, but it's not actually necessary. You can just stay put shooting dragons and goblins, or whatever other forces Satan has aligned against you.

And why would you want to cross the bridge, anyway? Considering the formidable foes you're facing on this side of the lava river, one can only imagine the horrors lurking just slightly to the right.

So... I guess this is really Satan: a scrawny little devil that flies around dropping puny pitchforks on you. Wait... are those high-heels he's wearing? And here I thought "The Devil Wears Prada" was just a catchy title for a film.

What was the deal with the giant fire-breathing devil head, then? And what about that castle in the background? I thought the whole idea of building a bridge across the lava river was so that you could access that path leading up to the sinister-looking castle in the background. You know, the one the dragons have been filling with flags to mark what wave you're currently on. The same place the life-stealing dragons go with your stole 1-ups! That place has nothing to do with anything? We're just after the empty area off to the side of the castle?

Oh, right. I forgot the game is called "Satan's Hollow," and not "Lucifer's Castle."

Anyway, the upshot of taking the time to cross the lava river and shoot Atari Satan is that you get bonus points based on the current wave, and you get your gun upgraded to shoot faster. I believe you can upgrade it twice, but I can't be certain because after the second upgrade, you wind up getting absolutely pig-piled by the enemy. Worse yet, by the time you get that upgrade, it's nightfall, and all you can see of your enemies is the burning hatred in their eyes.

In the end, my high score was right around 36,000. That puts me just... 43,050,000 points shy of the world record high score. But I've got a good feeling about this next quarter...

Lest you think a game about blowing up dragons to build a bridge to fight Satan is self-explanatory, you should take a peek at the game's flyer:

He is Satan of the Hollow!
[click to enlarge]

For starters, it features a much more intimidating, far less dainty Satan pointing at the cabinet where all this devil shooting takes place. Even on the cabinet itself, we can see a meaner Satan than the one you fight in the game, thin moustache aside. What's more, the flyer explains that the events of the game were prophesized by the "Dark Scrolls". Mere mortals, it explains, would never be able to cross the Bridge of Death over the River of Fire. Maybe not, but those mortals never had a badass spaceship for blasting demons into hell cobbler! Then again, maybe they couldn't cross the bridge because they have to build it themselves, and said spaceship also has a sweet winch made expressly for the construction of bridges that span fiery channels.

On the less fancy side of the flyer, there are warnings about other hazards, such as egg droppers that drop "flaming eggs of fire". There's also mention of achieving "devilishly high scores," which kind of undercuts the battling Satan vibe the rest of the flyer is setting up. All this intense effort to construct a bridge so that you can cross a burning river and fight "the omnipotent demon Lucifer," and outcome of this hellish denouement is an increase in a few numbers? Is this what we're fighting for!?

Also, we kind of glossed over the fact that I have a spaceship that can travel to hell. What's up with that?

Have any questions or comments about this piece?


If you enjoyed this piece, be sure to check out:

Night Slashers!

Reader Comments

frappez le cochon rouge
Oct 1st, 2012, 03:24 PM
The Medium-Height Man
Oct 1st, 2012, 05:02 PM
Hell is a demon blasting space ship.
Comic Artist in Training
Oct 1st, 2012, 07:56 PM
Nice one, Boogie. I only came across this game recently on one of those cabinets collecting multiple old games. Oh, and you didn't mention Ride of the Valkyries being used to open every level. You could have gotten a silly wisecrack out of that, like "Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit!"
Forum Virgin
Oct 2nd, 2012, 08:42 AM
I had this for the Commodore 64, got a lot of play out of it and the graphics weren't that far off from the arcade. The arcade cabinet is awesome. If I had a man cave I would love to have this in it. Great article, never noticed the high heels on the devil before!
Slacking Enthusiast
Oct 2nd, 2012, 09:27 AM
Nevermind the spaceship: the title on the cabinet clearly says this is "Satan's Nollow", what's up with that?
Oct 2nd, 2012, 03:16 PM
I remember noticing this game when I bought the first Midway collection for my PS2 some years back. The name sounded awesome, so I decided to play it first. Imagine my surprise when it was a pew pew spaceship shooter.
Forum Virgin
Oct 4th, 2012, 12:37 AM
I wouldn't mind that arcade machine in my basement...
Forum Virgin
Oct 5th, 2012, 12:19 PM
I totally have this cabinet in my basement.

Also it's not a spaceship you control... it's a catapult.

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