Perhaps the closest thing the 7800 ever got to a RPG, Midnight Mutants can best be described as The Legend of Zelda meets The Munsters. It appears that Atari decided to end their 7800 support with a bang, because Midnight Mutants was one of the best games to ever grace the Super System.
The storyline for Midnight Mutants is bit on the odd side. One dark Halloween night in 1747, the powerful warlock Dr. Evil (now there's an original name) had finally been caught. As was the custom at the time, Dr. Evil was burned at the stake. However before he died, Dr. Evil swore an oath of revenge against all the villagers who had brought him down.
Flash forward to 1992 (hey, that was the current year back then!). Jimmy and his Grandfather (who just happens to be Al Lewis of Munsters fame) have gone to the pumpkin patch one late October night to select their Halloween pumpkin. Unfortunately this Halloween just happens to be the day the Dr. Evil has decided to make his return, and to make matters worse, Jimmy just happens to be the direct descendant of the Witchfinder General who burned Dr. Evil at the stake 255 years ago! Now not only has Dr. Evil escaped, be he has trapped your Grandpa in a giant plasmic pumpkin prison (I told you this story was weird)! Now it's up to Jimmy to stop Dr. Evil, free his Grandpa, and save Halloween for everybody.
Although Midnight Mutants wasn't a true RPG such as Dragon Warrior or Final Fantasy, it was still a welcome surprise to 7800 owners who thought Atari had abandoned them (which they did immediately after releasing this game). Instead Midnight Mutants is really an what we'd call an 'Action RPG' along the same lines as The Legend of Zelda or Star Tropics. Jimmy can walk around and collect items for solving puzzles just like in any RPG, but he must also actively avoid or fight monsters in real time (no turn based battles here!). However for some reason the programmers decided to add a score counter to the game, which seems pretty out of place in an RPG. Just ignore it and pay attention to the other important information displayed in the box.
As was previously mentioned, Jimmy is on a mission to destroy Dr. Evil (so did he go to evil medical school or what?) and save his grandpa from the pumpkin prison. Although Grandpa is trapped in the pumpkin, he still give Jimmy helpful advice by accessing the inventory screen. Personally I've never found Grandpa's bad puns and one liners to be all that helpful, but occasionally he does let a nugget of wisdom slip. Hints and other information are also displayed on the top of the main game screen, although this is usually just 'flavor text'.
Aside from the odd score indicator, the bottom of the screen also displays your health information. The Blood Purity indicator measures your poison level. Every time a bat or other 'vermin' hits Jimmy he will be poisoned, and his blood purity will go down. When Jimmy's blood purity reaches 0% he will die from blood poisoning (this is a bad thing), so make sure you make ample use of the poison antidotes scattered throughout the game. The health meter represents Jimmy's physical hit points, and is whittled down slowly by contact with Zombies, Ghouls, and Wolves. As with the poison antidotes, there are healing potions scattered throughout the game that will restore Jimmy's health.
Jimmy begins the game unarmed and completely at the mercy of the wandering enemies. The first thing he must do is venture into the mansion and find the knife to defend himself with. Later on Jimmy can find other weapons such as a axe, cross and blaster (gun). Jimmy can also pick up various other helpful items such as a key, lantern, necklace and potions which are used at various points in the game. Jimmy can also find a heart which will permanently protect him from poison, and diamonds which will increase his health (these are especially valuable).
One thing that Midnight Mutants was especially famous for was its bosses. Midnight Mutants marks the first time that full screen bosses were used in an Atari game. Not only were these bosses huge, but they were incredibly detailed and really ghastly looking (the rams head boss is particularly disturbing). It appears that Atari was finally producing quality games for the 7800, but it was also too little too late.
If there's one flaw with Midnight Mutants its the lack of a save or password feature. Although the game isn't especially long, it is very hard to beat in one sitting. Even a simple password system would have made beating the game more of a joy and less of a chore. Still, for a system as old as the 7800 (whose hardware was designed in 1984), a game as complex as Midnight Mutants was a real accomplishment and it shouldn't be dinged for its minor flaws.