Campy, corny and just plain silly, these are just a few of the words you can use to describe Namco's Splatterhouse. But oddly enough, those words all apply to this game's source material, decades worth of crummy horror movies that could best be described as guilty pleasures. Splatterhouse never attempts to be anything more than a wild romp through horror movie-inspired action sequences, but that's enough for me.
Splatterhouse has one of those silly stories most people don't think twice about. The instruction manual talks about Rick and Jennifer, a loving couple who vacation to this creepy run down estate known as the West Mansion. All it takes is a split second of darkness and Jennifer is gone, now it's up to Rick to find her and save her ... before it's too late. Oh yeah, and just for dramatic effect (and perhaps to be compared to the Friday the 13th series), Rick wears an uncomfortable mask the entire game.
For a first generation title, Splatterhouse is quite the anomaly. Usually you don't see these graphic violent games so early, most companies like to test the waters and see what they can get away with. But everything about Splatterhouse's violence is so over-the-top that it's impossible to take it serious. What we get are seven levels of pure action, nothing that re-invents the wheel, but fun nonetheless.
Controlling Rick is actually pretty easy, he has a couple of punch attacks and a useful jump kick that takes out flying enemies. He also can pick up a number of weapons he can use to take out anything that gets close. For most of the game you'll have a trusty piece of wood, but you can also pick up knives and a powerful shotgun that blows your enemies into pieces.
Both the levels and bosses are quite diverse, taking you through sewers and rainy forests while you fight maggots, possessed rooms, and axe wielding crazy people. The graphics are good for a first generation TurboGrafx-16 title, there's a bit more detail in the backgrounds than we got from late 8-bit titles. The weapons are usually met with cool animations, and the overall look of the game is very much like the arcade title. If you remember the game's age you won't be disappointed by its somewhat dated presentation.
Splatterhouse ends up being a lot of fun, even if it's nothing more than an excuse to cut monsters in half and blow up the walking dead? This is a guilty pleasure, the type of game you rarely see these days. The game spawned a couple of sequels on the Sega Genesis, but neither were as campy and fun as this TurboGrafx-16 experience. If you're a fan of silly horror movies then Splatterhouse is for you.