Platform: 360 (PS3)
Publisher: Nacmo Bandai Games
Developer: BottleRocket, Namco Bandai
Review by: Peter David
The name “Splatterhouse” may conjure a B-movie marathon, or an adrenalin-pumping hard-boiled death trap with no escape. The word takes me back to my childhood. I remember playing the original title on a friend’s console. It was one of the few times when you could play an almost-villain. Yeah, the player had to save a girl, but in the meantime relish pounding the living crap out of everything. It also helped that I had a “Friday the 13th” fetish, so when the protagonist put on a glowing hockey mask, I played him like Jason Vorhees.
That was many moons ago, and with my dark childhood aside, I grew and changed with the industry. But it was with great interest that “Splatterhouse 2010” arrived on my doorstep. After placing the disc inside my beloved 360, I came to the immediate conclusion that…this game is not for children. I cannot emphasize this enough. No one who cannot legally enter an “R” rated film should be allowed to even view this.
It is good to see that Splatterhouse remains true to the temperament of the first game. The gamer plays the character of Ricky, who with his beloved girlfriend, Jennifer, enters the mansion of Dr. West, professor of Necrobiology, in order for Jennifer to ask some questions – about what who knows? Maybe she needs help on a test, or she works for the school paper. Either way, thank god she brought her boyfriend along. What a creepy place.
What the heck is Necrobiology? What school teaches such a topic? Is it liberal arts? Private school? These are multiple questions I ask myself before I have to restart the game to figure out what is going on.
Ricky is a geeky loser, who, in reality, if he didn’t have a boat ton of money would never have been able to land a hottie such as Jennifer. To build the dramatic tension, Ricky bought a ring and plans to propose to his true love after a concert that they bought tickets for. Thank God Dr. West puts the kibosh on these plans by stealing Jennifer and leaving Ricky bleeding out on the floor.
Before our hero goes to the white light, he hears a voice coming from (you guessed it) a mask made out of bone (not a hockey mask, mind you, as that would be dangerously close to copyright infringement). All he has to do is put on the mask and he will be given the chance to rescue his love.
It is at this point that the button-mashing adventure begins. Ricky grows from a 135-pound weakling to a 300-plus lumbering behemoth that wears sneakers and mutilates everything in his path. Most of the game is in third-person view, and at times turns into a 2D side-scroller, giving a big nod to its predecessors).
The relationship between Ricky and the Mask is one of the most fun relationships seen in video games this year. If I had to describe the personality of the Mask, it would have to be somewhere between Al Swearengen of television’s Deadwood, and Tim Allen, of Tim Allen fame. Ricky laments about his girlfriend, and the Mask reads his mind and tells him to kill. Being that the mask is older than dirt, its use of today’s four letter words is surprising. Not that I mind, because while playing Splatterhouse, I used those words and a few more.
The level designs are fun. Most of the time the player is inside a cartoon haunted house spewing blood. The monsters are well made and challenging to battle (or dismember). It does become a bit repetitive toward the end, but that goes with the territory of a button-masher.
But where this game really shines is in its well-developed characters and story, which is told in flashbacks. Ricky has to get to the end of each level to find his love, and in order to help him, Jennifer tears up bits of nude and risqué photos of herself for him to follow (and the player to collect and put together in an album on the save screen).
This bugged me, because I thought there would be no plausible explanation as to why Jennifer would be carrying around nude pics of herself. But I was wrong and will not spoil this any further for the reader. The soundtrack is metal-driven, with songs by Lamb of God and Mastodon, which gets the carnage of gore spewing down its merry path.
But not everything is roses in Splatterhouse. The frame rate and the camera become less than ideal in certain situations (i.e. it’s difficult to know who you are slaughtering at times). My biggest beef is the load rate. When playing, expect to die a lot. Also expect to wait, at least 30 seconds, before respawning. This gives ample time to make a sandwich or pour a drink. I was so furious at the load times that I had to step away from Splatterhouse on occasion because I felt my time being wasted.
But Splatterhouse has awesome storytelling, as well as great characters and gameplay to keep the ship from sinking due to repetitive battles and load times one can drive a truck through. The story is left open, so I cannot wait for the follow up, and it’s well worth the price of admission.
For more info, www.splatterhousegame.com
Pads & Panels received a copy of the game courtesy of the publisher for review purposes.