Splatterhouse Review for Xbox 360 (X360)

Splatterhouse Review for Xbox 360 (X360)

“Usually the blood gets off at the second floor”

It’s been over twenty years since the original Splatterhouse was released to an unsuspecting and easily offended gaming public. It was the first of its kind: a bloody mess of a game that caused people to wince in disgust, and ultimately led to the first-ever parental advisory warning for a video game. This side-scrolling beat ’em up instantly became a favorite at arcades, but was banned and eventually toned-down to appeal to the home console market. Now it’s the year 2010, and violence in video games has taken the world by storm! These days the sight of blood and gore is mere child’s play, and this widely heralded story can now be told with a more gruesome frame of mind.

Rick Taylor’s adventure with the Terror Mask was never detailed in the original series. It consisted of the stereotypical boy-saves-girl plotline, a maniacal archenemy in Dr. West, and the means to defeat him with the Terror Mask. With an original plot penned by Gordon Rennie (Necronauts / Judge Dredd), the story focuses more on showing Dr. West’s true devious intentions. Throughout the game you can uncover random bits of his journal, which are recorded on old gramophones scattered within West Mansion. It’s nice to have more backstory within the Splatterhouse universe, but after all is said and done, it still takes a lonely back seat to the gameplay.

Splatterhouse Screenshot

Every fan of the franchise knows the main draw here is the gore, and the developers certainly spared no expense in creating it. You can hack off heads on a whim or rip off an opponent’s arm and beat them with it; and the blood flows like a sloppy episode of Nickelodeon’s Double Dare. In fact, spilling blood is one of your main objectives when it comes to unlocking combat abilities in the game’s upgrade system.

The brawler aspect of Splatterhouse is still firmly in tact, and now boasts more depth with attack combos at your disposal. The combat is minimal at the start, but as you progress and collect more blood from fallen enemies, you can purchase upgrades to give Rick more killing efficiency. Attacks range from your basic fast, heavy, and grapple assaults, but can get even more destructive when you unleash a Splatterkill maneuver. This tactic can be unleashed when you grab hold of an enemy who will begin to glow red when weakened. Once you get your hands on a helpless victim, a quick-time event will occur, prompting a button press and appropriate aiming of the analog sticks to tear off a foe’s appendage. This method can get tiresome if overused on the same enemy type, as it’s the same animation each time. On the other hand, it is also a great way to break up potentially monotonous combat scenarios.

Splatterhouse Screenshot

The Terror Mask will grant you a boost when you launch yourself into Berserker mode. This ability becomes available once you have collected enough Necro Energy from defeating enemies. This mode shows off a black & white, comic-book-style attacking frenzy; granting invincibility for a short period of time. Not only will you become incredibly powerful, but you will also replenish any lost health once it becomes triggered. This is useful when dealing with the intense boss battles you’ll face throughout the campaign.

If there’s one thing the Splatterhouse fanatics will remember, it’s the difficult and noteworthy boss fights that were cherished throughout the original trilogy. Unfortunately the same can’t really be said about this adaptation of the game. You’ll encounter some familiar bosses, but the battles leave a lot to be desired. There’s no real strategy to the combat other than a repetitive dodge and attack procedure, and they ultimately end with a quick-time event similar to the Splatterkill scenarios. Frankly, it’s a bit of a let down considering it’s the same setup as the original games, but this time in a three-dimensional context. The formula was certainly passable back then, but these days it’s just perceived as thoughtless gameplay. There were many other attempts to show the old fans some love, but for some reason they missed the mark in those areas as well.

Splatterhouse Screenshot

Platformer elements were a small part of the original games, and they were included again in a few side-scrolling throwback sections. At first glance, these segments of the game seem awesome. However, they will later reveal themselves as some of the most irritating moments in the game.The jumping controls will have you banging your head against the wall in sheer frustration. Normally I don’t mind difficult sections like these when controls are solid. Unfortunately they didn’t make any tuning adjustments between these varying portions of the game, and it was a huge mistake on the part of the developers. Thankfully these side-scrolling areas aren’t very long.

There are also a few puzzle moments, if you can call them that, that come into play when trying to open doors during the campaign. There isn’t much thinking involved during these areas, as they mainly consist of impaling enemies on spikes, throwing them into giant gaping mouths, or simply pulling a lever behind a separate doorway.

Splatterhouse Screenshot

The cel-shaded textures give a gruesomely cartoon-ish feel, which is by no means a bad thing, but sadly the quality is lacking. The environments are all unique, but again, the texture quality takes away from anything noteworthy. On the other hand, the audio is well done, albeit juvenile in its approach. There is a large amount of swearing and adult-themed talk in the narrative from the Terror Mask, which can get annoying. Suffice it to say, it’s not a game you want to play with any children present. The soundtrack is an outstanding highlight if you’re a fan of the metal/hardcore genre of music. The track list features a decent collection of bands including Lamb of God, Mastodon, and The Haunted.

Splatterhouse can run a modest eight to ten hours of gameplay, depending on whether you go after collectibles. Aside from Dr. West’s gramophone journals, there are some provocative photos of Rick’s girlfriend, Jenny, which can be pieced together during your time in the game. Yu can unlock a horde mode game-type, called Survival Arena, after defeating specific stages in the campaign, in addition to unleashing the entire classic series for your retro-gaming pleasure. These additions add to the game’s overall replay value.

If you decide to take a stab at a harder difficulty on your next playthrough, you’ll be happy to note that all of your previously purchased skills will carry over. It will surely be a welcomed aid to all the achievement/trophy hunters out there looking to score some extra points.

Taking a look back at the entirety of this revamped Splatterhouse will reveal that Namco Bandai Games has delivered exactly what they promised. A fun, classic experience that features over-the-top gore. This game was all about fan service, and while some moments missed on the execution, it’s hard to deny the overwhelming nostalgia factor. It’s hard to recommend Splatterhouse to anyone who wasn’t previously a follower of the franchise, as the game’s overall lack of polish will deter most newcomers. However, if you’re willing to take the risk and judge it in a not-so-serious light, then you may very well find something to satiate your inner blood-lust.

The environments were unique and detailed, but the texture quality was poor. 3.5 Control
The controls during combat were solid, aside from a few slow animations when recovering from attacks. However, the platformer sections were atrocious when it came to the controls. 4.8 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The soundtrack is a must-buy for any fan of the metal/hardcore genre, as it features an all-star compilation of bands. The sound effects were fittingly gruesome, but the voice-over got a bit annoying at times. 4.0 Play Value
If you’re a fan of slasher films and all-around gory themes, then you’ll have a blast if you can look past the lack of polish. Previous fans of the franchise will love it. Newcomers, be wary if you strive for perfection out of your games. 3.9 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Featuring an original storyline inspired by comic talent Gordon Rennie. (Necronauts / Judge Dredd)
  • Re-experience classic enemies and bosses, evolved into horrific monsters of radical proportions and shocking detail.
  • Splatterhouse pulls no punches. With extreme gore and physics-driven fluids, you’ll witness organ parts and limbs flying in all directions taking shock value to the next level.
  • Experience real-time physical damage and regeneration. Stare in awe at the miraculous rebuilding of bone, muscle, and tissue.
  • Relive the classics! Unlock all three original Splatterhouse games within one content-packed gore-fest!

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