Reviewed in 2015 by Tibe

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Gore lovers welcome!

by Tibe (2015)

If you were born in the seventies or eighties, some famous movies such as Friday the 13th, Haloween, Freddy Krueger or Texas Chainsaw Massacre must have left indelible traces in your subconscious. I have to say it's the case for me, and I love these! In any case, this blessed period for the seventh art was probably the highlight of the gore, horror, terror, anxiety, willies films, in short, you know what I mean. Like SNK surfing on the wave of Rambo and other Delta Force (Chuck) with its Ikari Warriors and Prisoners of War, Namco launches into gore platform in 1988 with the first Splatterhouse. We can't really say that the vein has been exploited before, so say that this game is the ancestor of Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Forbidden Siren and others, is probably not too far from reality.

The app was made for the Namco System 1, an 8-bit hardware widely used by the editor between 1987 and 1990 (Dragon Spirit, Galaga 88 'Alice in Wonderland...) and capable of pretty remarkable achievements. Of course, one can not help but draw a parallel with the CPS (16bit) and the famous Ghouls'n'Ghost of Capcom, released the same year and well, Splatterhouse musn't be ashamed of the comparison, as we will see in this test. Listen, what a sick pitch: Rick is a parapsychology student (it starts well). He decides to go for a walk with his fiancée at night in the forest (great idea!). A storm breaks, and both take refuge in an abandoned mansion (make it happen!). And then starts the drama: Jennifer disappears and Rick gets killed. The unfortunate will be resurrected and then be possessed by the "terror mask", a cursed artefact which will, however, allow him to go in search of his beloved. And frankly, that's not a more ridiculous scenario than these of most horror movies!

The controls of the game are simple: A to hit, B to jump. It's possible to crouch, perform a tackle, but also pick up various weapons, just to add a little to the gore atmosphere: butcher knife, stick, baseball bat, harpoon, shotgun and so on! At the beginning, player have four hearts: each blow you take remove one, and believe me, many creatures in the mansion want you drop dead. Ghouls, undead, ghosts, elementals... but also some particularly creepy curiosities, particularly carnivorious leeches, haunted chair, table and knives, man with chainsaws... and even your dearest sweetheart! The anxiety is rooted in both the visual and the psychological, not only because the mansion is particularly murky and unhealthy, but there's always a crap to surprise you, or some unhealthy thing which we weren't expecting in a video game .... but we love it!

If the graphics fulfill their mission (provided it's a game of 1988, you remember), the soundtrack it exceeded all expectations: not only the music is brilliantly crazy, but the sound effects are bloody well chosen to have you pissing in your pants. The animation is one of the greatest ever seen in a game of this era, everything is fluid and the amount of detail is stunning. Namco regales us with a high-fly realization, perfectly adequate to Splatterhouse. The life is not huge, but it's not easy to overcome the six stages (with checkpoints system), and the challenge is taking at will. Much like Ghouls'n'Ghosts or R-Type, it's about to memorize passages to anticipate at best, but also to develop strategies to overcome the different Bosses, some will make you suffer. Splatterhouse is really a bomb to discover urgently for younger players, and a timeless classic to play again for the more experienced ones!



We've seen more delicate drawings, but Splatterhouse's graphics are pretty well made, with a lot of variety, some funny details that have been well worked and a top glaucous atmosphere.
Impressive for a 1988' game: there are many steps of animation, the moves are all fluid and there's plenty of details.
The oppressive and disgusting atmosphere owes much to the soundtrack, worthy of an horror movie from the eighties!
There's only six stages which are not very long, but the difficulty is well proportioned and there's even several different path in the advanced levels.
If it looks plain and simple at first, Splatterhouse requires dexterity and cleverness if you want to get far. Simple principles for a timeless gameplay, here's a good recipe.



Namco's title is one of the most memorable platform/action games of its era, packing a very special environment and a very good realization.


Too bad the Neo Geo never had its own Splatterhouse! Except for Magician Lord - which is still far from similar to Namco's title - there's nothing like it, even in a different genre.

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