SPLATTERHOUSE : WANPAKU GRAFITTI / Namco / NES
I'm guessing SD Splatterhouse was inspired by Konami's Kid Dracula and Parodius, their self-parodies on Castlevania and Gradius. The arcade gore-fest has been toned down here into chibi cuteness, with a short fat little Rick rising from his grave and chasing a floating jack-o-lantern who absconds with his girlfriend Jennifer.
The levels and characters are similar, though with a "cute" theme instead of "scary", but the gameplay is very different. Rick is fast and mobile in this one, capable of making huge jumps, and he usually has a wide playfield in which to roam across. The game is much more forgiving of mistakes - you now have a life bar, which can be increased over the course of the game by killing monsters. The game really invokes Monster Party more than the original Splatterhouse, just with better graphics and somewhat smoother gameplay.
The gameplay is passable, but not great ... I found it better than the first two "real" Splatterhouse games, but it is still a bit clunky at times and there are a few really cheap and annoying bosses. What keeps you going in this one, however, is just how genuinely funny and creative the levels and bosses are.
The game is also much more gentle on you than the original Splatterhouse games, with a password system after each level, and also four continues per play (which usually drop you off right at the beginning of the section you just died at). The game retains enough challenge to not become a cakewalk, however, since Rick has only one life per continue. As mentioned, some of the bosses are really annoying, but you can circumvent that to some degree by either grinding a bit to up your health bar, or simply using a password to skip on to the next level.
SD Splatterhouse is cute, funny, has great graphics for the NES, and is just playable enough to make it one of the better titles for the system.
* Gameplay Video