The Rocky Horror Show is a 1985 single-player video game based on the musical, The Rocky Horror Show. CRL Group developed and published the game for Apple II, Commodore 64, Commodore 128, ZX Spectrum, and Amstrad CPC. CRL Group licensed and produced many games throughout the 1980s, many inspired by or based on other material. Some of their most notable games include The War of the Worlds (1984), Blade Runner (1985), and Search for the Titanic (1989). The Rocky Horror Show fit right into the company’s love of creating playable media based on popular franchises.
Today, finding a playable version of The Rocky Horror Show is easier than gamers might think. Just Googling the game’s name will turn up with a few options. Players can download The Rocky Horror Show on My Abandonware for free. ClassicReload.com also has a free version of the game that players can access right on their browser with no download necessary. ClassicReload is a decent source for retro games because it has other classic games like Thexder.
When The Rocky Horror Show first came out in 1985, the Spectrum, Amstrad, and Commodore versions came with a glossy poster and a sticker. The ZX Spectrum received two different versions of the game. In 1985, the standard 48k version dropped; the following year, it got an upgraded 128k version. The Commodore also received various versions, including a direct port of the ZX Spectrum version, and two different versions that had different or reworked graphics and additional locations to explore.
At the time of release, the game received generally positive reviews. Some critics judged the game for being too difficult for too little payoff. Others compared different versions of the game to each other, insisting that the inferior versions weren’t worth playing. Today, modern gamers feel a little more divisive about how well The Rocky Horror Show holds up. My Abandonware rates the game a decent 3.8 out of 5. Lemon64, however, is not so kind. It rates The Rocky Horror Show a 5.9 out of 10.
The Rocky Horror Show Premise
The Rocky Horror Show is based on the cult classic musical of the same name. While the video game adaptation didn’t make the cultural splash that the musical did, it still broke boundaries for the time. The player gets the choice of playing as Brad or Janet, the young couple from the musical. At the beginning of the story, Brad and Janet find themselves trapped on the side of the road when they get a flat tire during a storm.
This unfortunate predicament forces them to flee to the nearest building to find help and take shelter from the storm. The nearest residence is Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s creepy mansion. Dr. Frank-N-Furter and the other residents of the mansion are far from what Brad and Janet consider normal. At first, the entire experience is extremely overwhelming for the young sweethearts, but the colorful cast helps Brad and Janet break out of their shells. The Rocky Horror Show has always been about self-liberation and expression.
The game stays true to this message by forcing the player to explore Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s castle as either Brad or Janet. The player’s chosen character searches the castle for pieces of the Medusa machine, which they need to save their partner. Janet and/or Brad cannot escape the mansion without saving the other. As the player explores Dr. Frank-N-Further’s castle, they’ll collect keys to open new areas of the castle. They also need to avoid the manor’s residents. Each character (except for Rocky) will try to slow down or stop the player’s progress. Riff Raff and Eddie are the most dangerous characters because they will kill the player if they get the chance. Each character quotes their characters from the musical.
The Rocky Horror Show Main Characters
Since The Rocky Horror Show is based on a musical (and movie) of the same name, players can expect to run into all the prominent characters from the story. The game won’t give these characters as much development or detail as the musical or movie due to the limitations of the game. Each character does quote famous lines from the source material, though, which helps fans feel like they’ve slipped into the world themselves.
At the beginning of the game, players can choose to play either Brad or Janet. Whichever one they don’t pick will fall victim to the Medusa machine. The chosen player character’s main objective is to find pieces of the Medusa machine to save their partner.
- Janet Weiss: Janet Weiss is Brad’s fiance and one of the main protagonists of the musical and the video game. She’s the perfect embodiment of the 1950s “All-American Girl” trope. While traveling with Brad, their car gets a flat tire during a storm. They look for help in a nearby mansion, where they discover Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s experiments and strange housemates. What goes on in the mansion is a culture shock for Janet and she spends most of the story afraid and attempting to pull away
- Bradley Majors: Bradley “Brad” Majors is Janet’s fiance and one of the main protagonists of the musical and the video game. Brad is a protective partner, often seen shielding Janet from the things that frighten her. He’s also more easily seduced by Dr. Frank-N-Furter and the bizarre experiments happening in the castle. In the story, Frank even disguises himself as Janet and Brad sleeps with Frank, which leads to even more drama.
Non-Player Characters (NPCs):
- Dr. Frank-N-Furter: Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Frank for short, is the owner of the castle that Janet and Brad end up at. Frank is a Transylvanian mad scientist obsessed with creating the perfect sex partner. He inadvertently brings out Janet and Brad’s more adventurous side, but he doesn’t do it out of the kindness of his heart. He’s in it for his own enjoyment and entertainment. Frank is often depicted as someone who doesn’t care about the consequences of his actions. He lives in the moment and represents self-expression, liberation, and sexual freedom. The story also heavily implies that Frank is the one who caused Janet and Brad’s flat tire. In the video game, the player needs to avoid Frank if they can. Being caught by him will result in Frank stealing their clothes and tossing them around the castle. This may not be dangerous, but it does slow down the player’s progress.
- Magenta: Magenta is the castle maid and the sister of Riff Raff. Magenta is also in an intimate relationship with her brother. Magenta plays a large role in helping Frank get through to Janet and Brad. In the game, like Frank, if she catches the player, she’ll take their clothes and scatter them around the mansion. She’s not deadly, but she will slow the player down.
- Columbia: Columbia is one of Frank’s many lovers and she’s described as a groupie of the castle. Frank ends up breaking things off with Columbia when his interests turn to Eddie instead. Columbia also falls in love with Eddie. She’s one of the castle’s servants and running into her in-game will have the same effect as running into Frank or Magenta. She won’t kill Janet or Brad, but she will strip them and slow them down.
- Riff Raff: Riff Raff works for Dr. Frank-N-Furter and he’s Magenta’s brother and lover. He is unusually intimate with Magenta and he’s often seen being extremely jealous of Frank. Whether that jealousy stems from wanting to be like Frank or be with Frank, it’s hard to decipher. Riff Raff is Frank’s servant throughout the story. In the end, he takes Frank prisoner and takes over the castle. Riff Raff is one of the two dangerous characters in the video game. If players run into him, Riff Raff will try to kill them.
- Eddie: Eddie is the man that Frank broke things off with Magenta for. Magenta also falls in love with Eddie and they develop an intimate relationship right up until Frank kills Eddie. Frank also used half of Eddie’s brain to create Rocky. Unlike most of the other characters, Eddie isn’t in the story for long, but he is constantly talked about. Eddie is the second dangerous character in The Rocky Horror Show video game. Like Riff Raff, if Janet or Brad runs into Eddie, he’ll try to kill them.
- Rocky: Rocky is Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s newest experiment and he’s supposed to be the perfect living sex toy for the scientist. Rocky, like Janet, finds the environment to be frightening and runs away from Frank. Rocky ends up helping Janet throughout the story. He’s the only character in the video game who doesn’t do anything to Brad or Janet. He’s completely harmless.
The Rocky Horror Show Titles in the Series
The Rocky Horror Show is a 1973 Richard O’Brien musical that mashed up the science fiction genre and the horror B movies that were popular from the 1930s to the 1960s. The musical became such a cultural phenomenon that it spawned a cult classic film in 1975, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. This film adaptation starred the legendary Tim Curry in the star role of Dr. Frank-N-Further. Beyond the original 1975 film, the musical spawned an entire franchise.
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
- Shock Treatment (1981) – A spin-off and a sequel of the original movie.
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again (2016) – A remake of the original Rocky Horror Picture Show to celebrate the 40th anniversary.
Video Game Series:
- The Rocky Horror Show (1985)
- The Rocky Horror Adventure Game (1986) – CRL Group proposed The Rocky Horror Adventure Game as a text-adventure sequel to the 1985 game. Unfortunately, it never came to fruition.
- Rocky Interactive Horror Show (1999) – This game is more or less a remake of the 1985 game, with better graphics and more immersive gameplay.
- The Rocky Horror Show: Touch Me – This game has been in the works for quite a while. It’s allegedly supposed to be a rhythm action game set to release in 2017. Unfortunately, the game still isn’t out and has no recent updates.
The Rocky Horror Show franchise also includes comics, a board game, an old line of trading cards, a few more live-stage productions, and several movies and video games that were never released.
The Rocky Horror Show Cheats
In the 1980s and 1990s, video game developers often included built-in cheats and exploits to make their games easier. Most games of this period couldn’t be saved. The game needed to be finished in a single sitting and if a player received a Game Over, they would have to start the entire game over again. Needless to say, this is an extremely different experience from modern gaming. Retro games didn’t feature saving and autosaving mechanics. Even checkpoints were rare. To compensate for this, many games featured cheats, codes, and other exploits to help the player get through the story.
Unfortunately, The Rocky Horror Show video game doesn’t seem to have any cheats, cheat codes, or other ways to make the game easier to play. Publications that cover game guides and cheats, like GameFAQs and GameSpot, don’t have any information on The Rocky Horror Show.
At the time of The Rocky Horror Show’s release, critics and gamers thought the game was challenging. With no cheats or exploits to take advantage of, modern gamers will have to brave this challenge without help.
The Rocky Horror Show Cheats FAQ
When Googling “The Rocky Horror Show video game cheats”, none of the FAQ results are about the game. Instead, they ask about what happens at live performances of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, how old people need to be to get into a live performance, and how to play the board game based on the franchise. If players Google “The Rocky Horror Show video game”, the FAQ results are still about the movie and the board game.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Polaventris / CRL Group.