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Review: Splatterhouse

by X-Box
20 Dec 2010 at 17:27hrs | Views
There are a lot of great cult favorite games that were released back in the heyday of the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, and one that often bordered on culty was the Splatterhouse series. But have time and a new audience of gamers splintered the bloody 2×4 of this once notorious franchise? Read on to find out. Review by Darryn Bonthuys.
With its troubled development cycle over, Splatterhouse marks a complete reboot of the franchise, retelling the story with some new (if perhaps predictable) twists and flourishes for its new audience. Bleeding out from a massive wound in his guts, Rick Taylor must don the infamous terror mask in order to survive if he is to rescue his girlfriend from the clutches of the nefarious Doctor West.
Once bonded with the mask, Rick transforms from a geeky nerd into a hulking monstrosity that is ready to paint the mansion red. Despite his musclebound appearance however, Rick is in for one hell of a time, as the various demons and monsters summoned by Doctor West are actually quite challenging, unusually aggressive and can kill players quite easily.
Fortunately, the mask that Rick wears has a few extra abilities that it can grant besides giving our hero an instant super-steroid injection. Collecting blood from enemies can unlock new attacks, extra health and special mask powers that turn Rick into an even bigger weapon of demon destruction – for a limited time at least.
While the combat is a satisfying retro-inspired throwback to the source material, it does become repetitive after a while. Mashing the main attack button for combos is useful at first, but quickly becomes dull and boring, and also less effective when faced with tougher enemies.

Current-gen consoles have brought the evil Splatterhouse creatures to life in better detail than ever. And there are some truly warped enemies in this game... 
Anyone who has played the original Splatterhouse games will recognize a lot of the enemies that pop up in the game, from familiar annoying imps to poop-your-pants scary encounters with the Chainsaw Boss.
The real variety comes from the use of the assorted melee weapons and additional mask abilities. Items such as the trademark 2×4 plank, chainsaws and blades are scattered around levels, while the mask will turn Rick's limbs into massive damage-dealing weapons that can also siphon health back from enemies.
But the real treat for hardcore fans of blood and gore, at least during the first hour of the game, are the Splatter-Kills. Weakening enemies will allow players to perform an execution move that is so horrifically brutal, even the fatality-happy fighters from Mortal Kombat might find it disturbing.
From the colon exam from hell, to the vivisection viciousness, the moves are fun to watch and perform, but quickly become boring and repetitive once you perform the exact same finisher for the tenth time in a row.

Our hero chose a most inopportune time to drop his monocle. 
While the action may have moved onto a more three-dimensional plane, Splatterhouse still manages to go back to its roots by presenting players with some traditional 2D platforming levels. What could have been a nostalgic nod to its origins quickly devolves in a mess of poor hit detection and frustrating controls, with cheap deaths in abundance due to the bad camera angles that hinder that crucial jump players need to clear the level.
While challenging levels and difficult boss encounters may be par for the course in video games, constantly dying becomes incredibly frustrating in Splatterhouse when players have to wait several minutes in between loading screens and unskippable cut-scenes before they can attempt to get past the obstacle in question.
Graphically, the game is fantastic and it's evident that the developers have spent most of their hours on crafting a unique, gory, visual aesthetic. The cel-shaded graphics give the game a comic book look that really stands out, while the animation is constantly fluid. What's more, the numerous demons seem to be have been inspired by the nightmares of a lunatic in an insane asylum. (The best type of lunatic. – Ed)

There was a lot riding on the finals of the 1-on-1 invisible basketball championships. 
After the main storyline is finished, the game has quite a few decent extras thrown into the mix. Survival mode will test even the most skillful of players, while the original trilogy of Splatterhouse games is included for those of you looking for a quick retro throwdown. And for the most dedicated of gamers, there are 'tasteful' photos of Rick's girlfriend Jennifer waiting to be discovered.
Splatterhouse isn't a bad game, what with its gratuitous violence, rocking soundtrack and fantastic visuals, but the quality of the game is inconsistent at best, as interesting brawling elements are quickly marred by irritating platforming segments and cheap deaths.
A decent game that could have been the reboot the franchise deserved if a little more polish had been applied, Splatterhouse is a game that will appeal only to hardcore fans with a masochistic taste in gaming.
Score: 6.5/10


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