Splatterhouse

With a next-gen Splatterhouse on the horizon, now is as good of a time as any to pick up this game and prepare yourself for the carnage to come. Splatterhouse is definitely a classic and an important step in the evolution of console horror games.

It seems like for every system, there was that one game that looked so good that I decided I must buy the system. For the TurboGrafx 16, that game was Splatterhouse. I remember seeing a commercial for the TG 16 that featured Splatterhouse, and witnessing the huge, decaying end boss swiping at the masked protagonist—well, that’s when I decided that this was a system that was worthy of adding to my collection.

Of course, at the time I was still fairly young and without a source of income other than begging and pleading with my parents, so it was a while before I finally scored my TurboGrafx and my very own copy of Splatterhouse. Once I did, though, I was not disappointed.

One thing that stood out about Splatterhouse was that this was not a game intended for everyone. Though toned down from the arcade original, Splatterhouse still showcased a lot of gore and creature designs that were gruesome for the time. These were fleshy monsters that you could beat to a pulp—something very satisfying to my young teenage sensibilities.

So, the same question arises that always does when it comes to retro games—does this title stand the test of time? Is Splatterhouse still worthy of a playthrough?

Hell yeah.

Certainly, it doesn’t quite match up to the sequels or the more advanced horror games that have followed, but Splatterhouse is the first title I can ever remember that actually fit into the horror genre. Titles which had horror aspects like Castlevania preceded it, but those just seemed like action games with a horror theme tacked on. With its slimy, slithering, oozing, decaying enemies, Splatterhouse was horror. No, you never really got scared playing the game, but I blame that more on the limitations of the consoles of the era. The horror design was spot on for its time.

There isn’t a whole lot to the story of Splatterhouse, and there really doesn’t need to be. Sure, there’s something about a Dr. West and evil experiments, but none of that really matters. What matters is that some big baddy has kidnapped your girl, you’re all hulked out thanks to a red mask that mysteriously has attached itself to you, and there is an army of creeps between you and the end. The game is an arcade port, and in arcade style, the levels aren’t really tied together too closely. Everything takes place in the mansion and the grounds surrounding it, but one minute you’ll be in a hall full of mirrors only to walk through a doorway to find yourself in what appears to be a church setting. Apparently, the idea of consistency was lost on Dr. West’s interior designer.

In terms of gameplay, Splatterhouse is pretty simple. You have an attack button and a jump button. You are capable of punches, low kicks, jump kicks, and a very effective sliding move that is unfortunately not all that easy to pull off. The draw exists in the weapons you can pick up along the way. You’ll find boards with which you’ll splat your enemies against walls, wrenches which you’ll hurl into their beastly chests, spears with which you’ll impale them, and shotguns that will blast them to pieces so that they can be fed to undead canines. The controls in the game aren’t too bad, though your jump is not as responsive as it could be, which will become very annoying in certain parts of the game (such as the final level). A side note for the cheaters our there—selecting the middle turbo setting on your controller makes your hero a crazy punching and kicking machine, which will make certain parts of the game, such as the level six boss, much easier to handle.

With a next-gen Splatterhouse on the horizon, now is as good of a time as any to pick up this game and prepare yourself for the carnage to come. Splatterhouse is definitely a classic and an important step in the evolution of console horror games.

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2 Responses

  1. nice review. sounds like good clean halloween/gory fun. 😉

  2. Yeah, this is definitely a classic. I only hope that the next-gen Splatterhouse fits thematically. Seems like a lot of the revivals of old series don’t turn out well (e.g., Golden Axe).

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