Review by hundley4ever

"The Terror Begins"

Though my memory has its good days and its bad days, I can remember a good video game as if I played it just yesterday. Since there aren't many good arcades where I live, I've seen most arcade games out of town. Some of the most memorable games I've seen and played were at the Burger King in Governor's Island, New York. Though the place has closed down since, I still remember spending hours in that arcade just starring in awe of the few machines they had there. It was about the only place I got to see arcade games.

It was there that I saw one of the most interesting games I've ever seen. I remember looking at the game, which had a generic marquee, but a joystick panel with some weird instructions in japanese. The pictures on the panel showed some masked muscle man performing moves and looking like he was straight out of a Friday the 13th movie. The game's textless intro described the tale quite well, about a man and his girlfriend who try to find shelter on a rainy night and take refuge in a creepy house. Then the girl is captured, and the fellow has to brave the horrors of the house with a mysterious mask to find her.

Although Splatterhouse was a decent if rock hard platformer at best, what made it stand out was the visuals. The game was extremely gory, with blood both red and green being spewed everywhere. The monsters were horrifyingly scary and they all died grizzly deaths as you use fist, foot and weapon to kill them. I remember being scared out of my wits by the game and the scene where the girl turns in a loathing beast lingers in my mind. The music set the mood well and the backdrops were so moody and thoroughly creepy. The scene in the church effectively combines ghastly creatures, a haunting organ score and a dark, thundering background to scare even the slightly squeamish. Resident Evil has nothing on this game. The game went on to spawn two good sequels and remains one of the Namco's most underrated series. If not it's gameplay, but its outstanding presentation will leave you in awe.

Graphics: (9/10) Considering that the game was released in the late 80's, the graphics are surprisingly good. Animation is a little stiff, but sprites are extremely well drawn. Enemies are well designed, from the leeches in the first level to the deformed ''babies'' late in the game. Blood, spooky monsters lurking in the animated backgrounds and weapon effects complete a scary, dark portrait that just pleads to be in a high budger movie.

Sound: (7/10) The sound certainly sets the stage for a gorefest. The first level tune makes you want to kick some monster ass and the ending tunes portray the torture that the hero of the game goes through. Sound effects are decent enough, from the moans of the creepies to the gun shot fire, it's all well done.

Gameplay: (7/10) At most, gameplay is passable. Your character is extremely slow to move and attack, timing is of the essence if you hope to get out of each level alive. Position is important if you hope to avoid most enemy attacks, made especially hard by the fact that your character is a large target for the beasties. The assortment of traps mixed with enemies makes the game almost impossible near the end and continues will set you back to the beginning of the level. Anyone who can beat the game in 5 quarters is a master. What saves the gameplay is the originality. You face the scariest creatures, from sludge beasts to deformed ''babies'' and a whole bunch of creepy creatures that are very original and very scary in design. That scene where you fight the flying furniture is just one of the cool battles you get into. The ending battle with fire raging all around and in your path is extremely well done.

Fun Factor: (7/10) It tends to be quite fun to bash in the brains (or what's left of them) of the monsters in the house. There's enough weaponry, such as planks and guns to break up the monotony of punching and kicking. The spikes and other hazards are no fun, as they require some careful movement and jumping. The game would be sure much more fun if it wasn't so hard. I personally can't get past the first level most times. Nevertheless, the game's creepy atmosphere entices you to play on and fight against the horde of ghouls on the attack. Later in the game there are multiple paths you can take, adding to the replay value. All in all, the game is some scary fun.

Splatterhouse is certainly not a game for the faint of heart. Its dark visuals and scary creatures combined with blood and violence create a scary, enveloping atmosphere that is unmatched by any other ''horror'' game. Though the gameplay won't win any awards, it's the visuals that make the game all the more fun... and all the more horrific.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 08/17/00, Updated 08/17/00

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