2nd December 2010 - Back in the late 80’s, a new breed of game emerged from the misty depths of childish platforming. A game that would break new ground and even go on to create one of the most popular gaming genres today; the horror game. Its name was Splatterhouse, and now, in 2010, we revisit one of the most criminally overlooked classic beat’em up platformers and explore a modern take on all that it has come to represent.
Splatterhouse see’s you taking the role of Rick, a young lad with a stunning girl wrapped around his little finger. When Dr. West, a nutty professor of sorts, takes great interest in Ricks lady friend Jennifer, things go down hill quite steeply for Rick. Mortally wounded and on the brink of death, Rick is given another chance at life via a rather awesome mask that completely transforms him into a one punch killing machine. Time to run rampant through the halls and portals of West’s creepy mansion and some other worldly scenarios with head-splitting, limb-ripping, bone-crushing power. Paybacks a bitch.
Primarily, the game takes the form of a standard brawler/hack’n’slash combo that requires vast amounts of crazy button mashing and combo smashing. The quicker you slaughter and rip through all sorts of messed up enemies, the more experience points - or ‘Blood’ - you earn, which can in turn be used to upgrade all of those lovely killing abilities your freakishly disproportioned body houses. Its text-book style progression and combat, with the best moves being the simplest, and everything becoming unlocked in quick order throughout the game. So yes, the gameplay here is very simple, but its highly enjoyable. I have never really taken enjoyment from such simple combat styles, but Splatterhouse manages to make a messy blood-splattered fun-loving date out of its simplicity. Still, it would have been nice for a deeper combat experience, as this simple form of beat and pound gets somewhat repetitive after the first few missions.
Through out the campaign though, Namco breaks up the action with some varying gameplay here and there. A few times, you’re given puzzles to solve. These seem like they were just thrown in there for good measure though, as the trickiest they get is finding out where to impale enemies to open the door to the next area. Something of a oil-strike but, is the addition of cool little side scrolling platforming sections that are a mix of nostalgic throwback and pure awesome. Though small, these things are a great way of mixing up the missions, and one of the reasons that Splatterhouse houses such a great campaign. More importantly though, are the games boss battles. Namco has done a great job of creating some very awesome boss fights, which vary quite a bit from one another and feature some kick-ass enemy designs.
Blood. Blood, blood. And more blood.
That can pretty much sum up the majority of the Splatterhouse’s visuals, as this is probably the most gory, extreme game I can fathom. Right from the start, its clear Splatterhouse is not one for the light-hearted. You can rip the enemy limb from limb, beat other enemies limbs off with the ripped and missing limbs of the previous enemy, and the throw the second dead enemies head at a third. Then rip his limbs off! Or, why not just pick up a machete, and chop all their heads off in one glorious swing? You get the point - its full of extreme violence and more blood than an Eli Roth movie.
Gore aside though, Splatterhouse takes the visual styling’s of concept-art (what some people call ‘cel-shading). Im never a fan of this, especially for such violent and mature games, but it suit’s the over the top action and complements everything nicely. But as a whole package, everything visually in this game - apart from the blood - is right on par; there’s nothing to complain about, but nothing I would take home to meet the parents.
Ever chopped someone up in little pieces or ripped someone’s arm off? No? Good. But, chances are, if you did, you would do it while listening to Heavy Metal. Splatterhouse realizes the connection between the brutal riffage and thundering drums of Metal and killing, gore & violence, and as a result, has added one of this generations best soundtracks to the mix. Featuring the likes of Lamb of God, 5 Finger Death Punch, High on Fire, Goatwhore and many more, killing demons has never sounded so awesome.
And then there’s Rick. Or, more precisely, what’s on ricks face. No, not a pimple - a mask. A mean mother of a mask, too. One so mean, he’s taking advantage of Ricks love for Jen and using it to do its own evil bidding and then to make matters worse - cracking jokes and damaging Ricks self-esteem with wise-ass remarks. Oh, and did I mention that that’s hilarious? Because it is! The voice work in this game is top-quality, especially the mask, but that wont really make you care about the characters when there’s killing to be had.
Namco’s Splatterhouse isn’t a game you play for the story. If you want that kind of thing, steer clear of this one. Splatterhouse is a game purely for a gamer who enjoys the finer things in life; metal, blood and nude pictures of a girl who’s been kidnapped by a mad scientist (they’re the games collectables). You have enjoy having fun to enjoy Splattering the house. It is an easy game to find fault, im not going to deny that, but its an easier game to enjoy.
The campaign is quite long, taking a good 10 hours to complete even on Easy difficulty, and then there’s the insanely difficult Survival mode. Top this off with the great addition of the 3 original Splatterhouse games as unlockable, and you can take time to enjoy seeing how it all got started. There is a ton of value in this package, that’s for certain. A ton of blood, too.
I love metal. I love blood. I love naked game chicks. I love killing monsters. I love H.P Lovecraft lore. I love more blood. And as a result of all this - I love Splatterhouse.
It’s a game designed to be enjoyed. It takes a heavy heart and a good tolerance of gore to be properly enjoyed mind you, but Splatterhouse is a faithful remake of a gaming classic and totally deserving of being called one of the better hack’n’slash of recent times. It just goes to show that when dealing with a revival of a classic, the only people suited to creating it, and those who created it in the first place.
AAG SCORE: 7.5/10
+ Bloody good fun
+ Great Story mode - quality and quantity
+ Fitting Metal soundtrack
+ Value for money
- Quite repetitive
- Not much of a story
- Not visually spectacular
Reviewed and Written By John Elliott