Splatterhouse (Arcade) review
"I didn't think I'd be smacking rotting zombies to death with their own limbs or smashing corpses hung from nooses like macabre piñatas wide open with axes. When a disturbing individual with a cloth bag tied over its head assaulted me with twin chainsaws where its hands should have be, it gave me quite a start. This was an arcade cabinet set next door the The Simpson's brawler; kids were watching!"
I remember the rain. Technology wasn't advanced enough for it to fall in sleek sheets back then, but it still descended around Rick in droves. Barefoot and crazy, Rick's determined features hidden behind a bone-white mask, he strode meaningfully towards the ominous house his kidnapped girlfriend was held in. Lightning crackled in the background, shadows lengthened dramatically and all other manner of clichés took place. Then, a few levels later, Rick’s pounding his fist into the soft, rotting flesh of the lumbering undead.
Splatterhouse is in the process of being remade for next-gen computers, but it will be the original arcade version that'll stick in my mind the most. Fact is, despite the dread-filled title, I didn't see any of it coming; I didn't think I'd be smacking rotting zombies to death with their own limbs or smashing corpses hung from nooses like macabre piñatas wide open with axes. When a disturbing individual with a cloth bag tied over its head assaulted me with twin chainsaws where its hands should be, it gave me quite a start. This was an arcade cabinet housed next door the The Simpson's brawler; kids were watching!
With alarming interest. As I belted blood-sucking worms that chewed their way out of twitching piles of bodies in a commendable attempt to eat Rick's face.
Every ghoul, spectre and monster Splatterhouse throws your way is easily dispatched with Rick’s cultured hay-makers or by the slew of weapons he can heave around the scene. Smash a lumbering bag of guts with a baseball bat, and watch it stick to the wall in the background, sliding down the surface, leaving a trail of oozing liquids as it does. Assault floating heads with a well-timed smack, and watch them fly off into the distance. But even with all these horrors out to devour your soul, it's the unresponsive controls that often pose your biggest threat. That they're as stiff as some of the less animated corpses you’ll stumble across is damning; imagine being swarmed from either side by hordes of hungry hoodlum horrors while Rick responds to the danger like he’s an ancient grandmother rather than a harbinger of abomination slaughtering.
I expect this to be something the newer title fixes, but, in doing so, I’m forced to worry over what else will fall by the wayside in BottleRocket Entertainment’s revamp of Namco’s aged bloodfest. The expected jump to 3D will mean the interaction with the 2D backgrounds will fall to the wayside, and that's to be expected, but will it mean the end of the dark humour? Will they ignore the page they 'borrowed' from Evil Dead 2‘s playbook, having a heaving pool of dismembered hands flip you off when you draw near? Will they revel in this generation’s pure processing power and chronicle a fable of pure gore, forgeting that Splatterhouse was, first and foremost, a cartoon-themed romp through slaughterfields of gushing intestines and broken limbs? Will they abandon multiple paths that can lead you through cellars of mutilated body-parts and flesh-peppered bone or warped hallways flooded with the lingering scent of decay?
Maybe. Probably, even. We gamers are cynical of these remakes with good reason; we’ve seen the ball dropped countless times. So, if my pessimistic presumptions bear fruit, that’s fine. I don’t need to go too far to rediscover the game that started it all. Splatterhouse isn’t as relevant as it was back in 1998, but it’s lost none of its unique, gore-stained charm.
Don the mask, grab the shotgun, take off your shoes and remember the rain. It’ll help wash that blood right off.
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