1988 was the year that Splatterhouse was first introduced to the masses as it released in the arcades, and from there two additional games were spawned. Namco Bandai decided to bring the series back from the dead and on to the current generation of consoles with a remake of the original. After a dismissal of the development team in 2009 due to performance issues, there was hope that this meant that quality was of the utmost importance for publisher Namco Bandai. Well, with the game already on store shelves that is sadly farthest from the truth, and a game that could have been a sleeper hit for its violence and story ends up being doomed to bargain bins everywhere.
Splatterhouse places gamers behind the mask of Rick Taylor, a weak-looking college student who has just seen his girlfriend taken from him and is on the verge of dying himself; in steps a foul-mouthed mask who grants Rick a chance to stay alive if he bears it. Now joined as one, you set out to take back your love and quench the thirst of this blood hungry mask. This rescue mission won’t be a piece of cake though as an evil scientist has unleashed hordes of undead creatures to try and stop you. While things start you out in the fast lane, you will gain insight into the story through flashbacks, and for a beat ’em up the story does a good job of keeping you guessing. The narrative is helped along by some solid voice work even if the mask can get extremely annoying with random fits of curse words and rage.
Combat in the game is your standard bit of button mashing through enemies, throwing them around and doing it all over again in the next room. In-fact, the game boils down to enter room, kill everything, and repeat. This aspect of the game is not helped by the bland and overused environments. The combat does show some variety as you can collect blood to buy new moves and not only are weapons permitted, but you may use enemy limbs or your own to beat someone down. There really is nothing like losing your own arm, only to pick it up and start swinging it about. While the combat does okay in small doses, it can get extremely repetitive, and many of the unlockable moves do nothing to enhance the combat itself.
While the combat can be enjoyable in small spurts, it is hurt by the issues which are found at almost every puddle of blood. Animations have seen better days, and the collision detection during combat could use a lot of work. There were plenty of times that I know I was far enough away not to land a blow, only to have the game count the hit. These are not the only visual gaffes as the game suffers from erratic frame rate issues in addition to low-resolution textures that are just plain hideous. The overall look and feel of the game fits perfectly, but is sadly repeated far too often, and levels don’t show enough detail nor variety. Enemies are also a mixed bag with a few standouts but a mostly unforgettable cast of misfits.
The game tries to give variety with its combat killing with side scrolling levels and platforming sections. Now if only either of these were done well they would serve a great purpose, but both simply fall flat. The side scrolling parts of the levels serve to pay homage to the original games, but that is where they should have stayed. Enemies here are thrown at the screen as you kill them which only causes you to miss a trap or jump, causing for plenty of frustrating deaths which accumulate after each lengthy load time. The platforming sections don’t get any better as your dash and jump animations are clunky and the inconsistent hit detection does little to help you. Glowing objects are set to guide you through these sections but are too faint to be able to see half the time, and too many times I land of the edge of the platform and not the center, causing for yet another frustrating death.
One of the biggest selling points for the game is its violence and gore, but it also hampers the experience at times. As players start to fight enemies and damage them, blood splatters across the screen. This is a cool effect when fighting a few enemies but as you get more enemies on-screen, the blood increases until you are unable to even see who or what you are swinging at. This is made even worse by the horrific camera angles in the game that make it almost impossible to see where you are going and can lead to plenty of deaths. You are also given the option to go Berserk during the game, growing spikes out of your back and becoming very powerful for a set amount of time. This is a lot of fun but is destroyed by the screen that turns bright white during this time. If you make the mistake in launching this ability during side scrolling missions, you are doomed as it “whites out” platforms and edges, making it impossible to maneuver.
Splatterhouse is a bloody beat ’em up with an overabundance of violence and a somewhat coherent story. What it is not though is a good game and something you could recommend with a straight face. Tasked with saving your love and keeping a blood thirsty mask at bay, gamers must try to overlook the myriad of issues that stumble the experience, and unless you’re blind, that is going to be hard to do. Even with the ability to unlock the original three games and even a survival arena, there is nothing to save this game from its many self-inflicted cuts. If you are bored and need a quick blood fix, this might just be up your alley, but for the rest of us it might be a better bet to just watch a horror film.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
– Platforming and side-scrolling absolutely fail.
– Horrible frame-rate issues and collision detection.