Title : Splatterhouse
Publisher : Namco
Developer : Namco
Genre : Beat ‘Em Up Horror
Players : 1 Player
Release Date : 1990
Estimated Value (as of today’s date) : $50-$100
Halloween may have passed already, but that doesn’t mean I have to stop from reviewing some awesome horror games that are just begging to be played, or in this case replayed for the hundredth time. SPLATTERHOUSE is one of those beat ’em ups that i just keep going back to. In fact, it’s one of the only reasons I keep my Turbo Grafx-16 hooked up. Otherwise that system would just be collecting dust.
SPLATTERHOUSE is basically a tribute to all horror movies and lumped together into one massive hack ‘n’ slash gore-fest. It grabs from all the classics like Dracula and Frankenstein, as well as some modern gems like Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and of course Evil Dead. Originally released in the arcades, but then ported over to home consoles and the PC, Splatterhouse would set the stage for the “beat ’em up-horror” genre. In fact, there aren’t really any other games like this, and it’s pretty much criminally underrated as a series. If you’re in the gamer-know, you’ve heard of this game, thanks due it’s cult following. But, your average gamer wouldn’t even know what this game was, and they would just assume that it’s something staring Jason from Friday the 13th, but it’s not.
It was also a game that garnered a lot of criticism from the ESRB and of course, parents trying to protect their kids from playing overly violent video games. Well, this game is violent, gorey, and downright disturbing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. Hell, I laugh more than I cringe when I play this game due to the sheer absurdity of some of the encounters!
Hope you’re ready to get your hands bloody, because we’re in for a messy ride. Here comes SPLATTERHOUSE.
You play as Rick, a seemingly normal parapsycholgoy student who has ended up trapped in the haunted West Side Mansion where your girlfriend Jessica has been kidnapped. Like all kidnapping stories involving haunted mansions, you could expect to encounter a huge swarm of monster resistance, which you will. But how is a geeky old student going to fare against a monster army? With the assistance of the TERROR MASK of course. Basically, it’s Jason’s hockey mask, that turns you into a brutal machete wielding monster killer.
I won’t spoil it, but let’s just say you don’t get to rescue your girlfriend and it’s a downward spiral into the depths of hell. Interested yet? I bet you are.
As with any standard side-scrolling beat ’em ups, you’ll only be able to move in a two dimensional field from left to right, and your primary goal is to kill everything on the damn screen. You have your traditional, punch and kick which are your main attacks, but you’ll also be able to use a special attack that will send Rick flailing across the screen in a monstrous rage. Not to mention, you’ll be able to pick up a large supply of weapons to further massacre your enemies with.
Let the bloodbath ensue!
Splatterhouse will frighten you to the core, mostly due to it’s insane difficulty. The game is relentless, and you will find yourself dying more than the monsters at some points. Traversing through the levels isn’t that bad, but you’ll want to take advantage of the weapon pick ups as often as possible. Not only that though, you’ll want to hold on to certain weapons for when you get to the boss fight at the end of each stage, because that is where the true challenge lies.
Each level ends with a boss fight, which are basically monsters with certain attack patterns that in most cases you can memorize to help you defeat them a bit easier. Unfortunately, they are so incredibly difficult and contain so much health that you pretty much NEED to memorize their patterns or spam like mad in order to beat them.
That, and they scare the crap out of me every time I play this game. They just get more and more disturbing. At least not all boss battles are the same, as they all incorporate different attacks and strategies to defeat them. Still…creepy..
The TurboGrafx-16 was one of my least favorite video game consoles growing up. I barely owned any games, and the only ones that I did were through recommendations by a friend. The copy of Splatterhouse that I own is actually from a friend I had growing up, who let me borrow it, but moved away and I was never able to give it back to him. Um, sorry John?
For a 16-bit game, it’s quite the looker, and at times I actually think it has a graphical appeal that’s stronger than the arcade original. There’s something about that nostalgic 16-bit color scheme that does it for me. The visuals are what really make this game stand out as a horror classic. The designs of the enemies and the levels are perhaps the most bizarre you’d see in most beat ’em ups and it’s the stuff of nightmares. Just look at that peeling face! WHAT IS THAT!?
The music and sound is often clunky at times, but it does the job of creating a very creepy atmosphere. Perhaps the off-tune, weird music was done on purpose because it certainly doesn’t fit the game. It reminds me a lot of the music you heard in that ALICE PC game? Aw man, I know what I want to review next, ha!
So, looking for an excuse to hack up monsters while dressed up as a Jason mimic? Look no further than SPLATTERHOUSE. Enjoy the blood and gore!
Final Score (out of 5 Zombie Heads) :
Until next time, remember: Aim for the Head!