In memoriam, Donald Sutherland

Splatterhouse

Moby ID: 16377
Arcade Specs
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Description official descriptions

Splatterhouse is the first game in the series, but only the second game to appear on a home console (after Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti on the NES), which was later continued on the SEGA Genesis.

Rick and his girlfriend Jennifer enter West Mansion (known as Splatterhouse) to study Dr. West's parapsychology teachings for a school project. After a flash of lightning and a scream, Jennifer is gone, and Rick is left wearing the Terror Mask, which gives the wearer great strength.

Rick must survive seven blood-soaked levels full of corpses, demons, and other disturbing creatures in this arcade side-scrolling beat-em-up. Several weapons are at Rick's disposal throughout the house, such as a meat cleaver, a two by four, and a shotgun. If Rick wants to find Jennifer alive, he must move quickly through the floors of the mansion.... as a happy reunion is not always guaranteed.

Spellings

  • スプラッターハウス - Japanese spelling

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Credits (Arcade version)

22 People (17 developers, 5 thanks)

Director
Producer
Associate Producer
Programmer
Art Director
Special Visual Effects
Special Makeup Designed and Created by
  • Daihadan13
Original Music
Title Designed
Special Artist
Data Processing
Debug Chief
Special Thanks
1988
  • Splatter Team Original
  • Namco Ltd.
Product Manager

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 68% (based on 30 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 33 ratings with 1 reviews)

The Original Horror-Fest.

The Good
Splatterhouse was the first game to be notably "gross" in comparison to most console games previously available of its time. It was the "cool" game that your friends played without the parents around, and gave the Turbografx-16 an "edgier" feel that wasn't as common on the other systems. The game had some interesting ideas, and as I've grown older, I've come to appreciate all of the homages to horror films of the time.

Graphically, the game offers a few interesting "splat" moments, or demonic creatures oozing or disintegrating upon contact (hitting enemies into the back wall is a satisfying effect), and plenty of blood and guts around the area. The house itself was designed to be this Hellish nightmare, and the game conveys this well. There are a few unsettling creatures in the house, which even today look pretty nasty. Music is also catchy, ominous, and memorable.

One of the more intriguing aspects of the game are the multiple routes a player can take. While not changing up the gameplay drastically, it does offer a little more to explore with each romp through the levels.

Without getting too spoiler intensive, the game does offer something unique at the conclusion of the the "save the girlfriend" quest, which for the time (and even in today's games) was something edgy and different. The game has some other creative boss ideas. The "living room" is one of the more original bosses not usually seen in games of the time, and even now, still holds up well.

As a whole, the game is a good action/platform romp, with a few novel ideas thrown into it for the story, and diversity in levels. The game also has some very clever boss ideas. The "living room" is one of the more original bosses not usually seen.

The Bad
Splatterhouse is not as sophisticated as many of its "beat 'em up" cousins during this time period. Players were set of a set path, and even with slight deviations, there's not much variety. Rick doesn't have crazy combos to pull off, he can't use the environment against the enemies, and he can't move up or down. He just plods forward in one direction.

Rick also handles like a tank. His animation is sparse, giving him an awkward looking jump, and facing towards the back walls, he has a creepy, lopsided butt. I don't want to make a big deal of this, but the crooked posterior unintentionally makes for one of the more weird images in the game. Rick is a big guy, but there is a lack of a "natural" feeling in controlling him.

Many of the monsters also have limited animation. Like Rick, characters jump/float through the air, which doesn't look correct in terms of movement.

While the music is good, it's also limited. Earlier themes will reappear in later levels, and sound effects are almost nil. For a messy game like this, one would expect a wide variety of equally squishy noises. Other than a few beeps, the game seems to have a muted feel to everything. The monsters don't even groan, scream, of gurgle when they come after you.

There are also a number of changes from the arcade, and Japanese versions. A lot of the original gore has been subdued from the arcade, and the Japanese version retains a few more animations than the American version. Some weapons are also missing as well as some of the religious imagery. What would have made it through in today's games was still a taboo subject back then.

The Bottom Line
How times have changed. This game was quite shocking upon its time of release, and now, it's nothing to really get that notably worked up about. While not for little kids, it's pretty tame in comparison to Resident Evil.

And yet, there's something special about Splatterhouse. While it received two sequels, it died off after the Genesis days, and Namco never further explored it. This game has been long overdue for a sequel or update, as the ideas are sound and would still work well today. I'd like to see a good, gory beat 'em up, and Namco's skill with fighting game mechanics could make for an awesome title.

I was excited to see it re-released recently, and while a lot of the above listed issues do take some of the steam out of the title, it's still a playable title that offers some amusing thrills. Perhaps it's that binding of personal nostalgia to the title, but it gets more right than wrong.

Good for a trip down memory lane, when games were just starting to really dip their toes into "horror" titles.

TurboGrafx-16 · by Guy Chapman (1748) · 2007

Trivia

1001 Video Games

The Arcade version of Splatterhouse appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Hell Mask

The "Hell Mask", (also known as the "Terror Mask" or simply "The Mask") despite looking like a hockey mask, is intended to be an Aztec sacrificial mask, like the one in the anime/manga Jojo's Bizarre Adventure.

Milestone

The arcade version of Splatterhouse, released in 1988, holds the distinction of being the first game to have a parental advisory disclaimer put on it (before id Software's Wolfenstein).

References

Supposedly the mansion in the original Splatterhouse is the mansion of Dr. Herbert West, from H.P. Lovecraft's Re-Animator.

Version differences

There are a few noticeable differences between the TurboGrafx-16 version of Splatterhouse released in the US and the original arcade (and the Japanese port). In the American version, some of the minor animations of the monsters have been removed (i.e. the severed hands no longer beckon or give the middle finger to the player, and the zombies leap out of pits instead of slowly crawling out). Also an upside-down cross that was originally a stage boss was removed. Another difference involved Rick's Terror Mask being red instead of white. This change was made possibly to avoid connections with Jason Vorhees from the Friday the 13th movies.

Information also contributed by Guy Chapman and Zovni

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Related Games

Splatterhouse 2
Released 1992 on Genesis, 2008 on Wii
Splatterhouse 3
Released 1993 on Genesis
Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti
Released 1989 on NES

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Guy Chapman.

PlayStation 3, PS Vita, PSP added by Charly2.0. Arcade added by GTramp. BlackBerry added by firefang9212. FM Towns, Wii added by Sciere. Windows added by Kabushi. Windows Mobile, J2ME added by Deleted. Antstream added by lights out party. iPhone added by Ben K.

Additional contributors: CaptainCanuck, Rik Hideto, FatherJack, Dave Zanko.

Game added January 26, 2005. Last modified June 21, 2024.