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Review – Splatterhouse | Level Up News

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Review – Splatterhouse

 

Publisher:Namco Bandai Games America
Developer:Namco
Platform(s):Xbox 360, Playstation 3
Genre: Horror/Beat ‘Em Up
Rating: Mature
ESRB Content Descriptors: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language

The Scoop:One of the forefathers of video game violence returns; being adapted for a more modern audience, brandishing a more cartoonish style and being reimagined into a brutally difficult 3D Beat ‘Em Up. As the title would suggest you can expect to see blood… a lot of blood.

The Setup: Back in the day, which was a Saturday in this case, when I was around nine or ten years old my mom got me a Turbo Grafx 16 that was on clearance. For fifty bucks I got the system, an extra controller (which was useless cause it only had one controller port), and my choice of three games (though they only had three games to choose from), which would be the only games I would own for the system until my mid-twenties. The only one of these games that really stood out for me at the time was Splatterhouse, and why wouldn’t it be? I was big into horror movies at that age (and still today) and the cover featured what appeared to be a purple masked Jason Vorhees getting ready to slap a chainsaw-fisted mutant with a 2×4, it also had a warning that it wasn’t for children or cowards. Say what you will about it being an inferior port because of shameless censoring, but truth be told it was an extremely solid port as far as gameplay was concerned, and besides I would bet that 99% of the people that say that never even played the arcade port at all, let alone back then; it wasn’t exactly a common title (I would eventually see one in a budget movie theater about seven years ago). From that point I was hooked, even purchasing the two excellent Sega Genesis sequels. Needless to say I was very excited that they were remaking the original game when I heard about it… that is, until I saw it, then I was only a bit excited… that is, until I played it.

But before we get to that let’s discuss the story. Rick and his girlfriend Jen go to the infamous West manor to meet with one of their professors, Dr. West. I am going to assume since this takes place in Arkham, Massachusetts and since they are both students of Miskatonic University (just like me…), that the professor in mention is supposed to be Herbert West from the famous short story Herbert West: Reanimator, which inspired the classic 1985 horror movie Re-Animator. When they arrive at the manor they are attacked by monsters commanded by West which fatally wound Rick and drag Jen deeper into the house. A mask lands next to Rick, which tells him that it can save both him and Jen, after putting on the mask Rick is transformed into a hulking monster himself and then proceeds to beat the monsters to death. It pretty simplistic, and is also pretty much the plot of the original game though I don’t think the original had the blatant Lovecraft tie-in I am sure the name Dr. West was a homage and nothing more.

As much as I am sure this game wants to be the next God of War it is little more than a Beat ‘Em Up as you move from room to room fighting baddies and solving the most simplistic of puzzles. You do get to take the occasional dive into a side scrolling segment inspired by the original games, even going so far as to have remixed versions of the original game’s music accompanying. In an attempt to feign exploration in the game there are hidden collectibles scattered throughout each level, the first type of which are audio diaries; there are pretty much out in the open, all you have to do is keep an eye out for the gramophones which are sizable and noticeable. The more well hidden collectibles are the pictures of Jen that you must collect piece by piece, since most of the pictures are of her nude I can only imagine this was a clever ploy by the developer to appeal the game to an audience that wasn’t even conceived by the time the third game was released; boobies seem like as good a way as any to pry the thirteen year old boys away from Black Ops.

What’s Hot: Controls are surprisingly responsive, though some of the button choices are less than intelligent. Basic combat controls are reasonable, but picking up a weapon is done by pressing down on the D-pad, which is itself unresponsive. This gets to the point where you will often take a hit while trying to pick one up. If you ignore the weapons however you will find that Rick’s attacks are pretty quick and quite damaging on their own, but they would have to be because…

This game is a challenge, and I mean that in a good way. Rick can only take a handful of hits and enemies will often hit with more than one at a time, they can also chop off his arms which will cripple your offensive abilities severely. There are also traps everywhere which will kill you in one hit, so you have to stay on your toes constantly. With little exception (see below) the challenge is pretty fair, and they give you a healing ability which will save your life about once every minute or two. People seeking a hardcore challenge may wanna consider this after they have finished with Super Meat Boy.

By completing levels, or phases as they are referred to, in the game you unlock the original Splatterhouse games. The uncensored arcade port of the original Splatterhouse and the Sega Genesis versions (which I think are the only way they come) of Splatterhouse 2 and Splatterhouse 3. These are some of my favorite retro games, and while I used to own all three of them they were destroyed in a basement flood a few years back. I would love to replace them but they average between 30 and 50 dollar a piece so this is a reasonable alternative (though I think all three are also on the Wii’s Virtual Console store). These games are pretty fun even still today and are worth picking up the whole package for once it hits the inevitable price drop.

If the game drops to 20-30 bucks this may be worth the price alone...

Voice acting in the game is mostly average to bad, but one element of it stands out above all else. The Terror Mask which aides Rick in his quest likes to talk, constantly making comments on kills, enemies and even tormenting Rick by making jokes about his plight. It makes comments on murder, curses up a storm, and makes constant lewd remarks about Jen with nearly every photograph you put together.  The Terror Mask is excellently voiced by renowned voice actor Jim Cummings, who has done many works but I believe should be noted as the current voice actor of Pooh and Tigger in Winnie the Pooh. And he does kinda sounds like Tigger in this role, so you get to hear Tigger talk about bathing in blood and dropping F-Bombs, for me that is a plus for the game.

What’s Not:While the more cartoon inspired art style isn’t a total bust, the graphics seem rather dated for a game made in 2010. If I were to put a time-line on the quality I would say either late in the life of the original Xbox, or at best a launch title for the Xbox 360. The blood effects are well done, but why wouldn’t they be, but the choppy animations, simplistic textures and uninspired enemies (which pretty much all look like mutant dogs or skinned mutant feral people) bring the game down in the end. Also I still prefer the old dark tone to the cartoon style, even though, as I previously stated, it isn’t a big deal.

Level design could use some work, as many of the levels look exactally the same and you will get Dejavu within minutes of playing. The formula becomes predictable, go down hallway, fight bad guys, enter room, fight badguys, throw badguys into spikes or trap for no real reason, rinse and repeat until you get to a boss. By the end of the fourth phase I felt I had experienced pretty much everything the game had to offer… I wasn’t too far off. It is also pretty long for a simple brawler, but that may just be because of how quickly it wears out its welcome, expect 5-7 hours of gameplay minimum, probably more because of how much you will most likely die.

Most of your deaths will be during the special occasions where the games decides to get back to it’s roots and become a 2D platformer; this is some of the worse platforming in the last ten years. There are traps and death drops every few feet and Rick isn’t exactally an athlete, he can only ever manage to jump about two feet. The first one was one of the most excruciating things I have ever played, they got a little easier after that, but one thing remained a constant, they always sucked.

The final and quite possibly worst thing about this game is the horrendous loading time, and since you are going to die a lot you are going to see those annoying loading screens a lot. Now I know what the average person thinks when they think bad loading, 20-30 seconds. These average about a minute and a half every time, and doing an install on the 360 amounts to nothing. Every single time you die you have to sit through it again and again, I don’t understand what happened to the pratice of caching data, many games still do it so it seems silly that some wouldn’t. If I had to guess of how much loading I had to sit through in my playthrough, counting deaths, I would guess around an hour and half to two hours, no lie. I think that may be more than the original Blood Omen on the PSOne, and that game was all in told over thirty hours in legnth, this one is less than a third of that.

Final Verdict: It’s not a terrible reimaging of the classic series, but the flaws it has are pretty major and easily outway the things it does right. I would pick it up when it drops to twenty dollars or less however, as the classic series is worth that just on its own.

Review - Splatterhouse, 4.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating
 

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