I play games that a lot of other people don’t like or think are mediocre. I understand that. I also like a lot of movies that fall into the same category, mostly b-rate horror and action movies and games. I like them, and I’m comfortable with that. In many cases, there are certain aspects that draw me in, sometimes with the games it’s a matter of certain gameplay mechanics or themes. In the case of the 2010 reboot of Splatterhouse, it’s a combination of all these things.
As far as major reviews go, Jim Sterling of Destructoid is the only one who gave it a reasonably positive review, which is saying quite a lot, because he’s one of the few major reviewers who actually uses the entire ten point scale, rather than just seven and above (which has earned him the ire of the internet fanboy community, who recently treated the score of 8/10 he gave to Batman: Arkham City as some kind of heresy, even before they played it). He’s also not ashamed to give a game a really low score when it deserves it, so when he gave Splatterhouse a 7.5/10, you can trust he liked it a fair amount.
However, the rest of the mainstream press more or less hated it. And I guess I can see why. It’s kind of buggy, the load times are really fucking long, the side-scrolling parts are a good tribute to the original but gameplay-wise kind of suck ass, and it’s full of gore and serious heavy metal, which don’t play well to the mainstream. The game has either a 59 or a 62 on Metacritic, depending on which version you look at. I get it. It makes some sense, but I’ll be honest here; for my money, this game is a lot fucking better than that. If you’re a horror fan, this game is awesome. The combat is varied, despite claims to the contrary, the creature design is excellent and the narration by Jim Cummings, who plays the voice of the Terror Mask, is some of the best voice work in game history. He outlines the story, which is a much more fleshed out retelling of the original Splatterhouse. It’s very competent game storytelling, and it’s keeps the game moving forward as you try to find out what Dr. West is going to do with Jennifer, what the Mask is all about and why the house is filled with demons.
The game had a tumultuous history, which contributed to some of the shortcomings, including that the stages that take place outside of the titular house are pretty weak, and it’s fairly obvious that those were done after Bottle Rocket was taken off the project. It’s a long story, but if you want to know it, The West Mansion (from whom we also borrowed the screens and art for this article) is the best resource on the ‘net for all things Splatterhouse. The short version is that the game was in development hell for a while, got passed from Bottle Rocket to Namco Bandai’s US branch, and that team was laid off immediately following the game’s release. What remains from that is some inconsistent level design and a few glitches, but nothing as to break the game or make it any less fun to the average gore hound. My point is, it’s a better than average 3rd person beat-‘em-up with a varied combat system that was, to my eyes, unfairly downgraded due to some wonky 2D sections and long load times. And I’m not saying it’s perfect, it’s not, but it’s fun.
Given what you’ve heard about the games so far this month, you probably have a good idea of what to expect. The folks behind the game clearly knew what the appeal of the original games was, so they just gave fans what they were expecting. A lot of gore, shout outs to horror films of the ‘70s and ‘80s and a satisfying combat system. In fact, they clearly learned from the faults of Splatterhouse 3 and made the combat a lot more balanced, rather than “learn supermove, use supermove, rinse, repeat.”
Speaking of the original games, all three of them are included on the disc, which is a great bonus. The only missing bit is the Famicom game, Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti, which is a forgivable oversight considering it was never released in the US. Since Namco has gone out of their way to whore the same six games to death on compilations over and over again and Splatterhouse has never shown up on any of them (while even obscurities like Grobda and Cutie Q have made appearances on at one of Namco’s innumerable
money grabs compilations), this is probably your best and easiest chance to get them all in one place. Though, to be fair, all three are also available on Virtual Console, but given the cost of this game on Amazon ($20) and the cost of all three on VC ($24), it’s probably a better bet to go with this game, even if only for the old games (though, to be fair, they do need to be unlocked by playing through this game).
The bottom line here is simple; the game is cheap now. If you’re into horror games, you like satisfying melee combat and you like heavy metal (Rick is even wearing a Mastodon t-shirt before he hulks up from the Terror Mask), this is a game you will enjoy. Check it out.
And so, dear readers, ends our 31 Day History of Horror Games. If we somehow missed your favorite game, please come back next year, we may just get to it then. Happy Halloween!
- Released: 2010
- System: PS3/Xbox 360
- Publisher: Namco-Bandai