"Ah, the classic moments we owe to Splatterhouse! Guide Rick past chained zombies affixed to the walls, slipping the gastric juices they spit up in your path! Jaunting ghouls offer themselves up as target practice for your two-by-four - splatter their guts onto the walls! And that's only the first level, people. It gets better! "
A visit to the mansion of the famed expert on the paranormal, Dr. West, goes awry and your beautiful beau, Jennifer, is suddenly lost to you. As muscle-bound teenager Rick (real heroes don't have last names!) you must go forth boldly into the unknown horrors held by the mad doctor's maison! But, b-but, that's s-suicide! Never fear, cowardly gamers. Fortune smiles on you! Rick discovers a mysterious old skool hockey mask called The Hell Mask, which grants him the power and resolve required to rescue his girl. (The mask is red because the white-masked Rick was feared to look too much like Jason from Friday the 13th. Right! And the red mask makes all the difference! Snicker!)
Ah, the classic moments we owe to Splatterhouse! Guide Rick past chained zombies affixed to the walls, slipping the gastric juices they spit up in your path! Jaunting ghouls offer themselves up as target practice for your two-by-four - splatter their guts onto the walls! And that's only the first level, people. It gets better! You'll get a chance to descend to the murky depths of the sewers where monsters from the sludge, composed of that same sludge, rise to deny you passage as you wade amongst swimming spikes and floating filth. A trek outside in the dark rain finds you beset by dogs wearing their insides on the outside - or so it would seem. A shotgun can be found laying on the rough grass, and when the double chainsaw-wielding monster appears - the music pounding crazily - you'll put it to good use right away.
And we're not even halfway through. A trip through a haunted library filled with flying books, and a walk down the halls of a haunted church (aren't we in someone's home?) are also on your agenda. Then: face the penultimate challenge, critical to Rick's mission. The womb where the lives of all hellish monsters begin, must be scoured; the heart that generates evil sentience must be punched to pulp! And finally, the insanity reaches a fever pitch when leaping, indestructible flame monsters bar your way to the threshold where the almighty evil awaits beneath the earth.
Sure, Splatterhouse is not much for logical transitions from scene to scene. Some of the scenarios don't really make sense in the flow of the game. But Splatterhouse is exceptional for manifesting classic horror ideas as accessible, punch and kick and jump arcade fun. A hall of mirrors hiding doppelgangers, a claustrophobic room possessed by a poltergeist - it's all here. Everything looks good, if a bit subdued in the colour department (I'll accept the loss of graphic detail from the arcade original, but there's no excuse for the colour issue). Indeed, Splatterhouse looks more like a washed out Genesis game than a Turbografx-16 game. But it is well drawn and realized, and the lively music is outstanding in setting the mood.
Splatterhouse is a bit short, but it takes awhile to become good enough to finish it cleanly; it's a skill game, not an action event. While it is excellent, a kick and punch game of this simplicity won't earn a ten from me - it's a bit too basic for that. But considering the limitations of the game 'engine', Splatterhouse does exceptionally well. So what are you waiting for? Jen-jen is in trouble, and The Hell Mask is her salvation!
Staff review by Marc Golding (December 10, 2003)
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