Splatterhouse (Arcade) Review

By Athanasios 31.10.2018

Review for Splatterhouse on Arcade

A strong look/atmosphere/style/whatever can get you places. Without its distinctive aura, for example, Silent Hill would just be an above average action-adventure. Yes, a strong look can get you places… but only if the core of it all, the gameplay, was good to begin with. Enter NAMCO's 1988 foray into '80s USA horror cinema, the, by-horror-fans-for-horror-fans, Arcade brawler known as Splattehouse, which had an insanely creepy atmosphere, served along some pretty violent (for the time) visuals… but, in all honesty, wasn't that good of a game.

Rick is a typical young man, with a typical girlfriend. He decides to take her on a typical stroll through a typical forest, for some typical smoochie coo. Soon, a typical thunderstorm breaks out, and he decides to run along with her in a mansion that can be seen in the distance. A typical mansion? Highly unlikely. Upon entering, "something" kidnaps his gal, and, while trying to find her, Rick discovers a strange mask, wears it, and it grants him superhuman strength, and bad taste in clothing.

Screenshot for Splatterhouse on Arcade

After transforming in the muscle-bound lovechild of Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers, Rick will now have to face the denizens of this place, and create a river of gore while at it. As expected, Splatterhouse is a side-scrolling beat 'em up, and thus winning any awards for its originality was never its intention... and yet, it manages to stand out, as one of the few horror-themed titles of its kind, and pretty impressively, one might add.

The mansion has a pretty intense Lovecraftian feeling of helplessness, as well as a Clive Barker-y eerie vibe and violent look. Each locale is dark, claustrophobic, decorated with deformed corpses, screaming faces, and all sorts of filth. As for the enemies, which range from undead and fleshy critters, to infant-like demons and hellish beasts, they don't have the decency to just disappear when killed. Instead, they rot before your eyes, get beheaded, or splatter into a wall.

Screenshot for Splatterhouse on Arcade

Yes, this has a pretty strong, and strikingly late '80s, b-movie horror aura, with the only "flaws" being the relatively lame look (and subpar animation) of the main hero, who is more chubby than a magic-powered tower of muscle, an OST which does what it is supposed to, but is generally forgettable, and an assortment of mixed-quality sound effects. These, however, are simple nitpicks, as the part where this fails the most, is where it counts the most, too.

First things first, for a brawler, this doesn't really manage to make the one in control feel the immense power of the protagonist. Rick can kick, Rick can punch, and, every once in a while, he can pick up something to swing at his foes to break the monotony - yet each move has a sort of "unnatural" stiffness attached to it, even worse when it comes to manoeuvring our hero around, trying to avoid the enemy attacks.

Screenshot for Splatterhouse on Arcade

In fact, that's the main reason why this isn't fun to play. Typical of Arcade games, it's quite trial-and-error-y, but no matter how many times one plays a level, the placement and movement of enemies and their attacks is such that it makes things more aggravating than challenging, with Rick feeling a bit out of place here, especially when it comes to the boss fights - it's almost as if a character from Final Fight or Double Dragon entered Ghouls n' Ghosts.

The thing that takes the bisquit, however, is the jaw-dropping simplicity, which, in all honesty, was a problem with the sub-genre as a whole. This is all about walking and punching stuff, and since it doesn't feel particularly satisfying to do so, and has a level of difficulty that has more to do with bad game design, there's simply little reason to try out Splatterhouse, unless an aficionado of all things horror, or in case you want to get a taste of its strong atmosphere, and striking visual design.

Screenshot for Splatterhouse on Arcade

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 4 out of 10


Splatterhouse is an annoying, boring, repetitive, and all around flawed side-scrolling brawler, which will have disappeared from the collective memory of gamers if it weren't for its, purposely '80s, and, admittedly, awesome, horror look.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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