Do you remember the first Splatterhouse? I do. Back in 1989, I pored over screenshots of it in an imported copy of EGM. As an 11 year-old boy the illicit thrill of studying each puddle of blood and grotesquely deformed enemy was incalculably strong.
Emerging in a world of anodyne, kiddy-friendly cartoon platformers and bloodless brawlers, Splatterhouse
was a revelation. It offered something I didnít even realise I wanted, the Arcade version of the grizzly horror films my friend and I would steal from his big brotherís VHS collection.
Trouble is, I also remember the disappointment of actually playing it. That same friend had a ludicrously expensive grey import PC Engine and after weeks of convincing his parents he finally got a copy of the gameís most faithful console port.
It was rubbish. Once the bloody gimmick of the violence had worn off, what was left was a fairly unambitious, routine beat-em-up. Just like Splatterhouseís
enemies, we were gutted.
This context is important. Because with this current-gen reboot, Namco Bandai are attempting to tap back in to the gleefully immature buzz of disembowelling mutated nasties. From the second you start it up, Splatterhouse
daubs its intentions across the screen: there will be blood.
But itís hard to imagine this game having the same impact as the 1989 version. Every kid who loves videogames has witnessed skull-popping headshots in Call of Duty
. Every kid has carved a Locust in half as its claret drenches the screen. Videogames have changed.
So, like my friend and I, hunched over his PC Engine all those years ago, what we are left with is a painfully light experience that is concerned more with the depth of its blood puddles than its gameplay.
Indeed, it's surprising just how old-fashioned this new version of Splatterhouse
feels. Despite its transformation from a side-scroller to a 3D brawler (for the most part), much of it is retrogressive. Perhaps itís intentional. The slasher flick stylings and 80s' roots of the game are worn proudly on its gore-splashed sleeve. It's steeped in nostalgia.
In this way Splatterhouse
isnít a failure at all. It does everything it sets out to. Itís just what it sets out to do isnít that compelling.
The storyline, for what itís worth, sticks pretty closely to the gameís predecessor. The opening finds you, Rick Taylor, splayed across the ground in a mansion, your exposed entrails spurting blood onto the floor. The nefarious Dr. West and his abominable monsters, ďThe CorruptedĒ, have stolen your girlfriend and left you to die a painfully slow death.
Luckily, a bone-carved, Jason Vorhees-eque Terror Mask lies within arm's reach. Possessed by a talkative, blood-crazed demon it promises to save your life and help you rescue your girlfriend, as long as you agree to sate its unquenchable desire for the red stuff.
Once you've slipped it onto your face, it transforms you, agonisingly, into a thick-backed, muscle-bound nutter capable of beating and battering The Corrupted with your bare fists. So, off you go through the mansion on your dual mission of love and blood-lust, with the Terror Mask archly narrating your every move.
Thankfully, itís easy to keep the mask happy. Blood is essential to fill your meters, the screen is constantly awash with blood. Every enemy explodes like a balloon full of ketchup, every death is accompanied by great geysers of gore. It pours and splashes and pools and gushes everywhere, in the most ridiculous way.
To facilitate the blood-letting, you start off with a series of basic melee attacks. You can string together comboíd light punches; charge up heavy blows and grab The Corrupted and kick them with a splat into a nearby wall.