Friday, March 27, 2009

SPLATTERHOUSE


SPLATTERHOUSE (1988)

Originally an arcade release by Namco in 1988, this is hands down the best video game ever made. I remember being 9 years old, cashing in bottles and cans for change at Foodtown so I could go over to Nathan's for a cheeseburger and then feed quarters into Splatterhouse. Long before brutality became a hit in video games (like Mortal Combat and more recently with the Grand Theft Auto series and the controversial Manhunt), Splatterhouse laid the foundation for gory games and maintained a shelf life of over 20 years, revamped and ready for a 2009 release on the XBOX 360 and Playstation platforms . . .


The main character, Rick Taylor, dons a hockey mask like our dear friend Jason Voorhees, and his weapons of choice include a 2x4, meat cleavers, a pump shotgun, and whatever else you can get your filthy hands on. The game takes place in West Mansion (nicknamed the "Splatterhouse") where a parapsychologist, Dr. West, is rumoured to have conducted bizarre experiments. Two university students — Rick, and his girlfriend Jennifer Wills (both parapsychology majors) — visit the house for a school project, when a sudden thunderstorm causes them to seek shelter inside the mansion.


Rick is knocked unconscious and Jennifer is kidnapped, and he awakes unable to remove the mask from his face. We learn that the mask (referred to as the "Terror Head") is an ancient Mayan sacrificial mask with incredible power. You make your way through the mansion, attacked by strange looking creatures and when you smack them with the 2x4 they "splatter" against the wall, dripping into mushy puddles. The soundtrack for the game is amazing - what could possibly be better than 8-bit horror music? The levels are all creepy and disturbing - my favorite scene takes place in a room full of what looks like blubbery piles of man-eating sperms, which jump out of the corners and latch onto you like leeches. Once out of the mansion you encounter an enemy in the forest, with a potato sack on his head and chainsaws for arms, who is strikingly similar to one of the zombies in Resident Evil 5 (2009, XBox 360, another game that I've recently become addicted to and will be reviewing here at The Big Toe in a few days). In my opinion, Splatterhouse set the standard for horror video gameplay and went where no game had gone before.


The game caused a great deal of controversy when it was first released, due to the extreme violence, and when it was made for play at home on TurboGrafx 16 (which I still have and play often) it displayed a parental advisory warning. My how far we've come -- nowadays you can get a blowjob from a hooker in the backseat of a car in GTA or suffocate another player with a plastic bag in Manhunt, but 20 years ago Splatterhouse was truly ahead of it's time.


For the 2009 release, obviously the left to right scrolling will be replaced with 360 degree action, and hopefully the violence is turned up a notch with the help of today's mind-numbing graphics capabilities. Apparently Namco kept to the original storyline, except now Rick can be dismembered and use his severed limbs as weapons too! As if slicing up monsters with a meat cleaver wasn't cool enough - now you can use your own arm or leg to bash them over the head! I am counting the days until I can enter West Mansion once again . . .


Check out an AMAZING fan page for Splatterhouse here, including mp3's of the original game for download:
http://splatterhouse.classicgaming.gamespy.com/


Also check out the link below for info on the 2009 release:
http://www.gamespot.com/xbox360/action/splatterhouse/index.html






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