There are a lot of games I have never heard about, since I grew up during the 90’s, not really aware of what games were out. The only one I knew about was Super Mario World. I sadly regret not hearing about a lot of games that came out during my time growing up, like Lords of Thunder or Pulseman. Thankfully, however, we have stuff like the Virtual Console, so we can revisit or find out about games that we had heard of, but never played, or just revisit them, which is always a plus. One game I have been wanting to play for a while is Splatterhouse, that came out in the arcades and was ported to the Turbo Grafx 16. How well does this game hold up by today? Is it well? Or is it not so well?
The story of Splatterhouse takes place with two college students, Rick and Jennifer, taking refuge in the West Mansion, which is nicknamed Splatterhouse due to hearing strange rumors about the place. After reaching the mansion however, Rick is knocked out and left for dead, and Jennifer is caught and taken as a hostage for whatever the mansion has crawling inside its walls. However, an ancient mask known as the Terror Mask brings Rick back to normal, but without fusing itself with Rick. Rick must now go through the mansion, save Jennifer, and stop whatever is causing all the hellish moments in the mansion itself. So, yeah, if you played the arcade version, you will see a short video of the whole event, but if you own the Turbo Grafx version, you will have to read the manual.
The game play in Splatterhouse is a one plain side-scrolling beat ‘em up where you control the very muscular Rick as you go through the mansion, beating up demons and other monsters that roam there. You can pick up weapons throughout the game, and use them for a longer range of attack. It’s kind of funny how there are some of those old video game moments that we take for granted in this game. For example, there is a room in the game that is a tribute to Poltergeist, where knives, chairs, and other stuff is flying at you, and when the knives fly at you, Rick can punch them to deflect them. I find that funny, since I think you would hurt your hand in reality if you punched a knife.
The graphics and the design of the characters are pretty cool, even by today’s standards. I like all the creepy monsters that roam through the game. I also like the realistic way the weapons work, since they aren’t overly ridiculous like a lot of games would make them. The music is also very creepy, and fits the surrounding area of the game. The difficulty is right in the middle, I think. If you have played games like Ghost and Goblins, or Contra, you will have to hit the monster when the time is right, and stand and jump at the right time. I also enjoy all the tributes to horror films you see in the game, like Poltergeist, Friday the 13th, and other films.
However, there are some things I do have to be honest about that didn’t age well with this game. First off are the animations for all the characters. By today’s standards, you can maybe safely say that this is some of the worst animation, since it seems like most of the things in this game only have two frames of animation. There is also a big issue of how many moves you have in the game. I just think that you can have more attacks than a punch, kick, and a jump punch or kick. I also don’t like how quickly you lose your health. Let’s take some games that have creative health systems, Mini Ninjas, 3D Dot Game Heroes, and Legend of Zelda. The health systems in these games are very similar, since when you get hit, you only get a chunk of a heart taken away. In Splatterhouse though, when you get hit, a whole heart is taken away. I also hate how sensitive people can be when censoring games, especially this one for example. In one level in the arcade version, you fight an inverted cross, and in the Turbo version, you fight another evil mask. While that’s cool and all, I would have preferred to fight the original boss of that area. This could also be because of the limitations that the Turbo Grafx had, since it wasn’t the strongest machine ever.
Overall through, with all its faults, the game is still really fun to play, and I would recommend getting this off the Virtual Console, or if you are trying to find a Turbo Grafx and a game for it. I am super excited, since they are releasing a new Splatterhouse after so many years of absence.
This game gets a solid 8 out of 10..