She doesn’t have to die, Rick. We can save her. Go back to the house.
The original Splatterhouse was an arcade game. Similar to my experience with Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts, I have never, even to this day, seen a Splatterhouse arcade cabinet. It was ported to the Turbografx in the US (with some minor changes, including changing protagonist Rick’s mask from white to red in order to cut down on his similarities to a certain famous movie slasher in a white mask). I also never played this version. I wanted a Turbografx very badly as a young man, and never got one. It didn’t do well in the US as we all know, and my mom did her homework (in the form of asking Don, the owner of the local rental store where I rented all of the games I played) and discovered that a Genesis or SNES would be a better purchase. I went with the Genesis (initially, I would eventually be “that kid” and have both).
I’m not sure I ever properly thanked my mother for that, but at the time while I loved my Genesis, I desperately wanted to play Bonk’s Adventure, Keith Courage in Alpha Zones and mostly Splatterhouse. There was a preview spread of it in GamePro and my interest was immediately piqued. But, alas, it was not to be. To this day, in fact, I still have not played the Turbografx version of the game. But, as I said, I never properly thanked my mother, and when Splatterhouse 2 came out exclusively for the Sega Genesis in August of 1992, my nine year old self was thrilled. And rightfully so, as the sequel is better than the original, and, I would argue, the best game to hold the Splatterhouse name (though comparing it to last year’s remake would be kind of apples to oranges).
I loved it then, and I really love it now. Truth be told, the game isn’t all that impressive from a gameplay perspective. It’s really more or less Kung-Fu with a gory coat of paint. A really gory coat of paint. And weapons. But basically, you walk right and punch monsters in the face. The weapons vary it up some, but mostly exist to show off cool scaling and gore effects. The really great weapon segments typically take place in front of a wall, and Rick proceeds to take Prince Fielder-esque swings at monsters that then provide a gory paintjob to the aforementioned walls.
Even with simple gameplay that borders on simplistic, the gore, graphics, themes and references really make the game a lot of fun, especially if you’re a horror nerd. You see, where Castlevania and Monster Party used classic Universal Monsters as bosses and enemies, Splatterhouse references the cult classic horror movies of the ‘70s and ‘80s. References abound to Evil Dead, The Deadly Spawn, A Nightmare on Elm Street and, of course, Friday the 13th. And just like many of those movies the game is extremely gory (for a 16-bit game). There is blood, pus and all manner of dismemberment going on all over in this one. The reason, no doubt, for its exclusivity on the Genesis is that the Turbografx was not exactly lighting up the sales charts, and Nintendo was still on their “no blood, no gore, here play this shitty version of Mortal Kombat” kick.
Ultimately, the gameplay isn’t great, but it isn’t awful, broken or cheap. It works. And the pieces surrounding it work really well if you’re a horror fan. If you somehow are reading this and haven’t played this game, get to it.
(Images in this writeup were borrowed from The West Mansion, the internet’s foremost Splatterhouse authority.)
- Released: 1992
- System: Sega Genesis
- Publisher: Namco