What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the name “Splatterhouse”? If you were a child growing up in the 16-bit era of gaming, it’s more than likely warm images of nostalgia. You probably remember the controversial gore, the action packed game play, freaky enemies, and most definitely the arguments on the school bus over whether the game’s protagonist was indeed Jason Voorhees. Unfortunately everyone else will think of “that game based on some old game that got shit reviews and wasn’t worth checking out”, and that’s a damn shame. The IGN and Gamespot reviews for this game are criminal. No way in hell does this game deserve the paltry scores that it’s received.
In my twenty or so years of gaming, I can’t really recall a game that has received so much praise from players while receiving such poor ratings from the “pros”. This is a big reason on why I don’t trust “professional” reviews, and a major factor in why my personal reviews take the scoreless approach that they do. But, it is what it is, and everyone is certainly entitled to their own opinion. I simply cannot recall the last time that I disagreed with a review so much. On the other side of the coin, I cannot recall the last time that I felt nostalgia and love for the old school this strongly either. After initially being lead to believe that the game would be awful, seeing more gameplay and reading user reviews from everyday gamers changed my tune. So, I decided to go with my gut and give the new Splatterhouse a try.
From the get go, I will say this: Splatterhouse isn’t going to win any game of the year awards (unless Fangoria starts handing them out). The game isn’t perfect, but it is precisely what people who would be attracted to it are looking for. It’s exactly what it’s supposed to be: A gory, over the top, old school beat ’em up that pays homage to to the classics and brings the simple concept into the new school without sacrificing that old school vibe. Basically everything that games such as NARC and Final Fight: Streetwise could have been if they didn’t take the easy way out, GTA clone approach. I have not felt such a rush of nostalgia in a LONG time, and to be honest, I needed it.
Whether we’re discussing The nods to the 80’s horror flicks that I grew up with like Evil Dead 2, or the 2-D sections that pay homage to the classics, the whole package just puts a smile on my face. Yes, the camera can get wonky around corners, and yes, the difficulty and learning curve are inconsistent, but big deal. This game does not just drip blood, it drips character and style and reminds me of days gone by. Yes sir, this one is a keeper for people who can look past it’s flaws.
Splatterhouse isn’t a bad game. It’s just a technically flawed one. Inconsistent framerate issues, some half-baked platforming, a couple of trial and error/wtf moments that make you wait for long loading times when you die, mudded textures, and constantly repeated lines from the mask, to name the major complaints. Should it still be played? Sure, if you’re willing to lower your expectations a bit. Yes, it is rough around the edges, but I have not run into anything that has ruined the game for me at all. There ARE problems, but not dealbreakers, especially for a used or budget priced copy. That said, the game has a good ”oomph” feeling to its combat, and some of the twists brought by the game are entertaining. The controls aren’t revolutionary, but they work fine. I had no problems what-so-ever reducing my enemies into pools of blood.
The characters are highly animated and actually show emotion on their faces, even if it is in a cartoony manner. Furthermore, the actual environments are crazy cool! It’s like walking through a really gory haunted house! Perhaps the worst complaints that I’ve read were over the 2D arcade sequences. I say these sequences were a wonderful throwback to Splatterhouses arcade roots, personally. I can only assume the reviewers are poor game players (or completely unfamiliar with late 80’s / early 90’s arcade traditions) because even on Brutal mode each scene only takes a couple tries to get through.
In closing, this game is waaaay underrated. It’s a little clunky, but man, it can cash the check the title suggests. Of course getting the 3 classic games is a definite bonus. Sure, it might be nothing that hasn’t been done before, but every game doesn’t have to be groundbreaking or epic of all epicness to just have a hell of a time with. It’s a hell of a throwback the beat ’em ups of yesterday that does the classics justice in every way. I liked the game enough to fully complete it but I understand this being a cult classic type of game. Older fans will like it for the blood and the throwbacks, but others should still try it. It definitely has some fun behind it. It’s a shame the game is selling like crap and will most likely never get a sequel. Niche games such as Splatterhouse are seriously getting the shaft while derivative mainstream games keep getting all the praise. If more creative endeavors like this don’t see some love from the community, we have nobody to blame but ourselves when store shelves are filled with nothing but Call of Duty and GTA clones.