GAME REVIEWS

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Splatterhouse

~ SPLATTERHOUSE ~
Namco / NEC (US)
HuCard
1990

During the difficult days of the Turbo's pitiable existence, as the struggling console was being bought by no one and mocked by all (all who had actually heard of it, that is), the fools at NEC somehow managed to release a handful of titles that defied ridicule and commanded respect. Among the proud few that even haughty Genesis fans credited as "cool" were Ninja Spirit and, of course, Splatterhouse. In fact, it isn't all that uncommon today to hear folks who have long since dumped their Turbos speak of this horror-themed action-platformer as one of the very few reasons they'd bothered with the system at all. Stout Splatterhouse did indeed escape mass mockery, but it has taken some slight knocks for gameplay that people perhaps prejudged as slightly clunky due to the huge sprites the game employs.

Well, damn it all, I think Splatterhouse plays great, and I always have. Granted, it's not like people have been classifying it with the likes of Sword of Sodan and Rastan Saga II. But they also haven't given it credit for starring a protagonist who's quite proficient with weaponry and who moves along surprisingly quickly despite his big-guy stature. They also haven't hailed the efforts of the designers who produced segments involving very tricky leaps (usually over the likes of flaming logs, stream spikes, and creeping-hand cavities as opposed to the usual pit-fodder), the sorts of sections that would have players cursing in frustration if not for obstacle spacing so precise as to be perfect for the game's controls.

So I certainly don't agree with those who slight Splatter's gameplay; but to be honest, had the inclusion of such huge characters meant a few minor control hiccups, I probably would have accepted the tradeoff anyway. This isn't some goofball-vs.-goofball hacking exercise a la the aforementioned fantasy flops; it's about a burly tough-dude battling through a horror-house loaded with crazy, dangerous creatures, and if such a premise doesn't call for enormous everything, then I don't know what does.

It also calls for a great soundtrack, and the Splatter crew came through with eerie Twilight Zone-esque numbers for chills and frenetic tracks for when the insane goes down. Indeed, there's plenty of insanity to behold as you explore the game's mid-stages, which offer multiple paths for you to travel. Regardless of the route you take, Splatterhouse will prove itself to be an incredibly enjoyable action title.


Such gruesome entertainment! I'm even more amused by the splattered enemies and goo puddles now than I was back in junior high. The ragged pups just want to munch on ghoul remnants, but they'll come after you if you irritate them.


You'll run into a wide variety of fiends as you explore the game's numerous sub-stages. The underground sludge monsters know how to throw a punch, while the "Uh-oh Wizard" prefers to keep his distance and direct undead minions.


Though you can take a number of different paths through the game, some ghost lairs, including the "meat room" and the quaking Chamber of Enchanted Furniture, simply can't be avoided.


The title features a few truly unforgettable boss battles. The music goes crazy when the chainsaw guy shows up. And just look at the clawed monstrosity that Rick's girlfriend ends up being turned into. Defeating the creature...


...brings about unavoidable tragedy. Fucking awesome.


And don't think the fun ends there. Monster fetuses and a maggot-eaten final boss must be taken care of before Rick's work is done.

Incidentally, there are a few minor differences between the US and JPN versions of the game. Most are shown below (with the US shots on the left) and involve masks or crosses. There isn't much that needs to be said about 'em, really... except that an altar scene without an altar makes for a really awkward moment in the US version.


1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Same as Earthbound... crosses are banned, hahah.

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