SPLATTERHOUSE / Namco / Turbografx 16

Generally speaking, there's an overall trend away from censorship in games. Even Nintendo, draconian stalwarts who wouldn't let a Christian symbol or a pint of blood anywhere near their consoles in the 80s-90s, seems to be loosening up quite a bit. However, they are apparently not at a point yet where they are quite ready for the arcade version of Splatterhouse; so, we get the slightly watered down Turbografx version instead.

First of all, what the heck is a Splatterhouse? Originally published in the arcades in 1988, it's a side-scrolling action game that made its name by being really really gory and graphically violent. You control a Jason Voorhees lookalike named Rick who had the misfortune to take shelter from the rain in some sort of demon-possessed mansion filled with violent mutants. There's some sort of implied attack offscreen, Rick is either killed or knocked out, but some mysterious floating hockey mask revives him and welds itself to his face. Rick's girlfriend was along and now she's missing somewhere in this nasty manor, so we're off to find her.

The game drops you off in some sort of disgusting torture basement. In the arcade original, there were bloody hacked up torsos all over the floor. There were people and mutants locked up in cages in the background all spattered with blood and missing various limbs, rattling their bars and screaming at you. There were dudes with the skin of their faces peeled off just kind of sitting there staring at you, etc. In the midst of all this a relentless wave of fleshy mutants attacks from all sides. You could pick up a cleaver and dice them in half, or use a 2x4 to smack them against the wall in the background leaving a bloody smear. The game was pretty much all about its visuals; the gameplay engine is kind of slow and cludgy, had this been a typical brawler with a Double Dragon sort of guy as a main character and waves of generic street punks coming at you, no one would remember this game now. The game kept people playing despite its cumbersome control and high difficulty simply to see what kind of disturbing scenes would pop up next.

When it was ported to the Turbografx, it was "cleaned up" a bit. Some of the hacked up nude woman torsos were removed, for example, and there tends to be a lot more green ichor oozing out of enemies than blood. The cleaver weapon was almost entirely removed from the game. Whereas Rick sported a white hockey mask in the arcade game and the original Japanese Turbografx release, it's been changed to some sort of red devil mask for this one. Additionaly, some of the moans and screams in the original soundtrack were cut, and a boss towards the end of the game has been changed from an upside-down floating cross to some sort of floating head.

Though the game engine really is too stiff, the game isn't entirely bad - there's a few creative boss fights, such as the second level where you take on a room full of possessed furniture. Ultimately though, it's really more of a curiosity peice than a proper game. Whether it's worth the money to watch the equivalent of a 16-bit slasher flick on your console is up to you.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video