#159 Splatterhouse

Posted: 26th October 2012 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , ,

189th played so far

Genre: Fighting
Platform: Arcade
Year of Release: 1988
Developer: Namco
Publisher: Namco

Rounding off our stint of games from 1986-1990 is a rather different title which is a cross between The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Zombies Ate Our Neighbours. Unlike any of the fighting games we have encountered during this blog Splatterhouse is a side-scrolling beat ’em up (think of The Simpson’s Arcade Game but with giant leeches! Or possibly, more serious, the Double Dragon series)

Our Thoughts

In a strange take of the “save your girlfriend” trope your character has been resurrected and granted super strength by a strange mask which has granted you super strength so that your punches have the powers of kicks. So you venture through this grotesque world filled with zombies, acid-belching torture victims and other such delights so that you can rescue your girlfriend (feminism never made it to the world of video games… still hasn’t really).

The gameplay is exceedingly simple; you can jump, punch and a combination of the two which acts as some form of special sliding kick attack. The real fun of this game occurs when you pick up weapons and start kicking ass. Slicing off heads, smashing skulls with a 2×4, this game is rather cathartic.

Graphically this game looks very cartoonish but in a fashion that could easily be adapted to make a fairly decent graphic novel. Everything is exaggerated to the point where things are either bulging or look truly disgusting. The whole thing takes place in a 2D world where the beauty of the game lies in the animated backgrounds which feature things that would not look out of place in horror franchises like Hellraiser, Evil Dead and Friday The 13th. The graphics are actually fairly gritty, in the overly serious superhero comic sense – dark and lots of browns, but clearly not real. It’s all quite gruesome, and while this might at tiems be played for laughs, the game this time seems intent on making you squirm in some way.

Even so, the focus really is on gore, and it takes any opportunity it can find to make it worse.

Two sequels later this became somewhat of a cult game which culminated in a 2010 remake of the same name that debuted to lacklustre reviews. Proof if proof were needed that sometimes it is better to leave well alone and let the original speak for itself.

Final Thoughts

As far as beat ’em up scrollers like this go, this is a fairly simple version. At the same time, it’s magnificently fun to play it, from beating up the various zombies and creatures to making sure you outrun the darkness that’s chasing you. A true exemplar of its genre, with the right aesthetic sense and enough going on that you don’t want to think past the visuals to know what is really going on. Sticking to the things that don’t feel crazy is fine.

  1. […] official, the drought of fighting games is now over. 50 games since we last covered one (Splatterhouse) and finally we doing our next one as part of X-Fest. The main reason for this is that as part of […]