In 1988 Namco unleashed a hack/beat um up that would court controversy and introduce this reviewer to the gory, violent side of video games. With it being Halloween what better time is there is revisit Splatterhouse....
31st October 2012 KingofMetal79
The player controls Rick, a parapsychology student who is murdered by undead monsters on a visit to the West Mansion (Splatterhouse). Resurrected by the "Terror Mask," Rick must kill his way through an army of ghouls and demons in order to rescue his girlfriend.
Splatterhouse is a sidescrolling beat 'em up whereby the player must hack, punch and stab their way through 7 levels of blood drenched
It must be said that while there is not much variation in the gameplay there are some gruesome and varied enemies (the infamous babies on meathooks that explode, chest-bursters, fetuses in bubbles and what look like pulsating wombs!) that wouldn't look out of place in Hellraiser or A Nightmare on Elm Street. It is instantly apparent that these 2 films (along with Friday the 13th) are a massive influence on the look and feel of the game. Furthermore the ability to pick up weapons (such as meat cleavers, bats and shotguns - all horror film staples!) is a nice addition. Like Mortal Kombat & Doom, I remember this game from my childhood because of its levels of violence and gore and was a game me and my friends played even if it was just for 'playground' kudos.
The music is good, if not amazing. Not the greatest soundtrack but some of the tracks on the later levels/stages have a good tempo and are not dissimilar to the themes in some of the great 80's horror staples (i.e. Friday 13th & Nightmare on Elm St). Therefore while the OST doesn't contain a slew of memorable motifs (a la Castlevania, Mega Man etc) it does create a good atmosphere and pace and certainly improves as the you near the final boss.
The game contains some really frustrating and difficult sections and I used a lot of continues completing it; another classic 80's coin swallower! The last couple of levels are relentless and very unforgiving. The enemies are very frustrating (especially the bubble-foetus creatures and the chest-burster/'Francis Bacon' style abominations - both are highly annoying!) and there are no checkpoints or weapons. One tip I will bestow on you is be aware of possible cheap deaths once you (seem to have) finished a boss/level as on level two I was killed by a falling chandeller and on level six by 'womb' fluid that I initially thought was just harmless animation following the completion of the stage.
My Experience Of The Franchise
I first discovered this Namco franchise when I originally played Splatterhouse in the arcade. A few years later I managed to obtain a copy of Splatterhouse 2 on the Megadrive. Seeing as its almost 20 years since I played the Megadrive version my memory is a bit hazy but I recollect that the 2nd game is very similar (in terms of gameplay and look) to the first. As Splatterhouse 3 was never released in the UK I am yet to play it but hope to rectify this in the near future. As I have relatively fond memories of the original games I was quite excited to hear that a modern reboot was being planned for 2010 and was keen to see how Namco was going to reinvent Rick, Dr West and West Mansion for the modern generation. However after only a few hours of play I found the game to be repetitive, boring and a massive disappointment. The game fell well short of the standard set by the modern 'hack and slash' champions such as God of Wars and Ninja Gaiden. While there was some attempt at capturing the original's comic book look and tongue in cheek humour the graphics and gameplay felt bland and dated.
While Splatterhouse is worth a play for nostalgia sake and to have a little chuckle at what use to pass as controversial, its fair to say it hasn't held up too well and its difficulty and repetitive gameplay will put off a lot of players. That said if you want a quirky, fun, horror themed game this Halloween then give it a whirl.
violence in an attempt to be reunited with your (Rick's) girlfriend. Each of the levels represents a different portion of the mansion from (very overgrown and sinister) garden/woodlands and cellar to creepy hallways and a gothic chapel. Rick can kick, punch and jump as well as brandish weapons that can be found scattered around the levels. Some of the levels have more than one route and alternate pathways can be found by falling down holes or jumping up onto ladders. However I found that most of these alternate routes were ultra challenging and would normally result in a quick and punishing death! Finally its worth noting that the controls (on the arcade version anyway) are not overly responsive and the move set is pretty limited.
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