From the depths Namco Bandai's archives comes the re-boot of Splatterhouse, one of the original gore-infested beat em' ups from the late 1980s. Raging in unadulterated violence and destruction we're putting on our rain coat for this one.
Right off the bat you should expect two things out of Splatterhouse; violence and blood. Seriously, I haven't seen this much blood since GWAR played the last show of their 'Scumdogs of the Universe' tour back in 1991. With songs like "Slaughterama" and "We Kill Everything," GWAR seems to be in the same mind-set as Rick Taylor, our protagonist in Splatterhouse. Rick is a raging juggernaut of destruction who not only brings the "Rama" to slaughtering, he does indeed, kill everything. So let's get to the gore with Namco Bandai's revival of Splatterhouse. Technology has definitely changed, but the simplistic core of a good old beat em' up hasn't.
80s horror returns
The story isn't going to blow your mind, but it might put you in the right mind-set to justify this escapism slaughter-fest. Splatterhouse follows nerdy college student Rick Taylor as he attempts to rescue his Jennifer, his lovely lady friend who has been captured by an evil scientist. Just like an 80s horror movie, Jennifer using her quick wits heads into a mysterious run-down Mansion, which just happens to be inhabited by an evil scientist, Dr. West and his horrific creations. Think of Splatterhouse as the 'Friday the 13th' version of of 'Maniac Mansion,' oh my!
A mask wears evil
Determined to save his high-school love, Rick turns to a mystical mask called the "Terror Mask" (voiced by Jim Cummings) that grants him immense power. Desperate Rick's gut instinct he embraces the mask in hopes of saving Jennifer. However, Rick could never imagine what the price he would have to pay as the bloothirsty mask turns him into a cold blooded murdering madman. That's the tale in basics and really Splatterhouse doesn't need anything more. All we needed was an excuse to beat up some evil beings and Namco has us covered. I'm glad Namco Bandai didn't try to over embellish the narrative in attempt to modernize the game. Young hero saving his girlfriend is good enough for me.
Don't Read too much into it
Furthering the bond between Rick and Satan's mask is witty banter that constantly fills the empty spaces of sound during your travels. Yes, the Mask of Terror can talk and you know what? It doesn't sound all that scary. This is the comedy aspect of the game, which smarty applied to take some of the focus away from all the brutality. At one point the mask even tells Ricky "Don't read too much into it," so you should know that Splatterhouse doesn't take itself too seriously and either should you. Funny enough with all this violence and random zingers back and forth, I was strangely interested in the story elements that can be found by playing old francophone records. If Splatterhouse wasn't totally from left-field already, how about its referencing it to Bioshock. Uh, I better not.
Keeping it simple
Splatterhouse progresses much like you would expect. You move from one room to room killing waves and enemies as you make your way through the mansion chasing your beloved Jennifer. The narrative keeps things moving, but it also replays on the combat, which is sadistically violent and fun. The enemies help keep things interesting, just don't expect any wild ideas, most of these creatures you'll be fighting are just placeholders providing pleasure for your dark entertainment. Spicing things up more, expect some big boss battles and different variations on enemies, although it's all very basic and strangely gravitating.
Adding a dose of variety are 2.5D side-scrolling sections that pay homage to the original series. These moments aren't overly frequent and last just as long as they are needed. The pacing seems perfect here give you enough a taste without overstaying its welcome. From playing these sections its clear that Namco Bandai went in the right direction when Splatterhouse went full 3D.
Beat em' up
Combat is mainly a button mashing affair, although there is enough depth to keep you invested in the combat mechanics, if you desire. Rick can also upgrade his skills during the game by spending blood points that are earned by splattering your enemies. Even though you can enter a zone and repeated smashing the attack button, the harder difficulties of the game, will ask a little more out of you. I wouldn't say its deeply strategic, but there is an element of tactics that will help you through some of the heavier sections.