Good luck finding a game that screams HALLOWEEN more than the legendary Splatterhouse. First released in 1988 in arcades, the original horror platformer saw two sequels on the Sega Genesis and then lay dormant for 17 years until it was brought back in 2010 as a 3D God of War style beat-em-up.
One look at the cover art tells you that this is not a game that leans too hard on its plot. In fact, the cover really tells you all you need to know about it: there's a house, and splattering happens. Like most arcade style games of the past Splatterhouse is a fairly brainless, pattern-based affair that is carried (and carried well!) by its presentation. I've got a few more pictures to post though, so let's get into the plot anyway.
|Floor breaking into pieces, revealing the purple brain matter beneath? Disembodied hands crawling out of the woodwork? Looks like you're living in a SPLATTERHOUSE
So what's the game about? Parapsychology student Rick Taylor and his girlfriend Jennifer get caught in a thunderstorm one night and take refuge in a sprawling mansion deep in the forest. They're attacked by creatures and Jennifer is taken away--Rick blacks out and awakens to find that he is wearing the TERROR MASK, a totally not copyright-infringing piece of headgear that gives him the unearthly strength he needs to splatter his way through the house and rescue Jennifer! Beginning with the second game the Mask actually begins talking to Rick and becomes a character in its own right.
|This screenshot is from the western Turbografx version; Rick's mask design was changed to avoid any copyright problems with the producers of the Friday the 13th franchise.
The real highlights of Splatterhouse are the boss battles, each one distinct and requiring a different approach. Take the Boreworms in Stage 1: you land in a room full of carnivorous, bloated creatures that leap from piles of gore strewn about the floor. Take care of them quickly or you'll get overwhelmed. One of the more creative ones is pictured above: a room possessed by a poltergeist comes to life and starts throwing all its furniture at the player! Once you think you've beaten it there's one more surprise that killed me the first time I played.
Splatterhouse wears its horror movie love on its sleeve--the main character looks like Jason Voorhees, the titular Splatterhouse is called West Mansion (likely named after Dr. Herbert West from Reanimator), one boss has had his hands replaced with chainsaws...it's just terrific. The soundtrack is also full of wonderful 80's style horror synthesizer music:
|These cute anime ghosts are strangely out of place for such a Dark And Brutal game
Give Splatterhouse a try this Halloween! It's short and kind of difficult and deserves an 11-out-of-10 on the Halloween-o-Meter.
Recommended for: anyone who likes horror and classic arcade games, people who agree that Splatterhouse is the most badass name given to any video game ever