December 7, 2010

Splatterhouse is a game series that most people are not too familiar with because the series was born on the long-forgotten Turbografx-16 console. They were known to horror fans as fun side-scrollers with a nice variety in enemies, level design, and a pretty fair difficulty. 

Fast-forward two decades later, and we have a remake of the 1988 arcade version of the original Splatterhouse. Namco hopes to recapture the violent magic of the first game and adapt it for today’s audience, and they do a fairly decent job of it.

The best thing about Splatterhouse is its unique look. The character models all look very impressive, and while the environments leave something to be desired, it all blends together rather well. In other words, everything will be covered in so much blood that it might all start looking the same after a while. That isn’t a bad thing though, as the game wants to be violent and succeeds at it wholeheartedly.

The problems with the presentation deal more with the technical hiccups and glitches. Monsters sometimes get caught in the walls or find themselves floating slightly above you. The game’s frame rate can take a serious hit during the more gruesome sections where you have eight or more enemies on screen and blood flying everywhere. Also, the camera never gets in the way, but it never wants to cooperate when you just want to take a look at your surroundings. Technical problems aside, the game functions pretty well.

The gameplay is what really matters here, and thankfully it’s functional and pretty fun. There is a nice variety in enemies and bosses, and the controls never seem to work against you, unlike other contemporary action games. The combat, while simplistic, is a lot of fun. It can be incredibly satisfying at times, although even during the less exciting sections I found myself having fun just taking out meager foes.

The problem? That’s about all there is to it. The game is simply a traditional brawler with lots of gore and a pretty ridiculous story. You can upgrade your character, but aside from health upgrades, much of it is unnecessary. Most battles typically feel the same, and there is usually never any real sense of danger unless you are being swarmed by enemies.

Despite these flaws, it still can be a very fun experience. The developers were never trying to make their game anything more than what Splatterhouse has always been: running around and killing monsters. The game still manages to be surprisingly fun despite its lack of depth. A nice bonus is the inclusion of the three original Splatterhouse games, which still hold up fairly well today.

Even those who enjoyed the original Splatterhouse titles might find this a bit underwhelming, despite the core gameplay being very functional and at times pretty fun. It’s not an amazing game by any stretch of the imagination, but for what it is, it works.

Pros: Very unique presentation; enjoyable voice acting; solid controls; the gameplay is pretty satisfying; the added bonus of the first three Splatterhouse games is nice

Cons: While some may enjoy more than others, the gameplay does tend to get a bit old pretty fast; long loading times; some glitches and framerate hiccupts

Score: 3/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.