In 1988, Namco released the original Splatterhouse and in the years that followed two sequels. Although they didn’t receive a great reception they went on to be cult classics. All these years later and Namco have decided to give the original game a smack with the remake hammer and delivered a gruesome experience for us all to enjoy.
The game begins with Rick Taylor, boyfriend to journalist Jennifer Willis, laying on the floor in a pool of his own blood inside the mansion of Dr. West, a professor of necrobiology. Jennifer was invited to West’s mansion to interview him about his work and Rick wanted to tag along to make sure nothing went wrong. Shortly after they arrive Rick is attacked by some of West’s creations and Jennifer is kidnapped. With Rick on the verge of death, he hears the whispers of the Terror Mask telling him, if he puts the mask on it will help him save Jennifer. With no choice, Rick puts the mask on and ventures through the mansion, jumping through portals to different points of time in human history and the future, trying to save his girlfriend.
For the most part the game is played from a 3rd person perspective but at times you will be chucked into a few side scrolling levels which I assume was Namco’s attempt to satisfy fans of the original games. Controlling Rick is fairly simple except for a few camera issues which can spoil the fun of beating on the rather limited variety of mutant, monster things. You will mainly be using your fast punches to keep your enemy from hitting you but you also have some heavy attacks which are useful for dealing out the final blow and you are also able to grab enemies and throw them at their friends. There are quite a few different combos available to you but once you find your favourite you will probably just end up sticking with that from start to finish as almost every enemy can be defeated with any type of combo.
Once you have collected enough blood from your enemies you will be able to start spending it on upgrading your health, power and obtaining a selection of different attacks. When you are fighting enemies you will sometimes lose body parts, usually an arm, which will limit the number of attacks you are able to use. You can either wait around for it to grow back, thanks to the power of the mask, or if you have enough power, hold the right trigger and repeatedly hit the B button to drain health from the nearby enemies. The annoying thing you will frequently face is once a combo has been started, you won’t be able to execute a new attack until it has finished which makes recovering your health a pain if you are just about to die. On the subject of dying, when you do die the load times are horrific. I installed the game to the hard drive and it would still take what felt like forever to load the level again, which became very frustrating on some of the side scrolling levels which are like mini assault courses and are all about trial and error or lucky dodging of swinging axes and falling blocks.
Aside from the main story mode there is also the Survival Arena which takes you back to places you have previously been before and sends in waves of enemies. By chucking in random weapons, that are also available in the story mode, such as a giant meat cleaver, body parts and a massive shotgun, you must kill all the enemies in the shortest time possible. In both the story mode and Survival Arena, there are photos that have been torn up into pieces that you must collect and once you have found them all give you a nice saucy picture of your girlfriend.
I think this goes without saying but Splatterhouse features a lot of blood, all the time. Almost every action you do in Splatterhouse will result in splash of blood appearing on your screen. While fighting Rick gets covered in the stuff and the floors are red throughout the entire game so if blood isn’t your thing then neither is this game. The graphics are mediocre and have a cell shaded look about them which made a change from the typical games in this genre. Apart from the sloppy load times there weren’t any noticeable errors with the game and the sound effects were entertaining and complimented the heavy metal soundtrack that played on the boss fights and some of the longer battles in the game.
Splatterhouse is a strange one because there will be times when you will be having a ball, ripping limbs from zombie clowns or shoving your hand down a gremlins throat, but at other times the frustration of dying on the side scrolling levels and having to wait ages for the game to load up again is beyond words. Namco did include the three original games on the same disk which is a nice bonus, so if you are looking for a short lived game that offers more blood than the National Blood Service then this is for you but if you want your cash to go a little further than maybe look elsewhere.