- Lots of beat 'em up action
- Doesn't take itself too seriously
- Survival arenas offer some serious challenge
- Includes the original games (which have to be unlocked through
progression of the Story mode)
- Instant death
- Camera is crummy
- Loading times can be horrendous
- Repetitive in long stretches
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Score: 6.0 / 10
I'm thankful that at the same time I've
been reviewing Splatterhouse I've also been spending time with Donkey
Kong Country Returns. It acts as a good balance against Splatterhouse's
gore, in which it revels; from the way Rick's skin rips opens under
attack (or worse, he loses an arm) to the way everything seems to hinge
on disembowelling or eviscerating or dismembering or impaling demons
It's all in the name of love, of course. Rick's girl Jenny has been
kidnapped by the demented Dr. West and the only path to success is the
hulking power offered by the so-called Terror Mask, which has a
personality of its own. (It swings from brooding information provider to
wise-cracking jerk.) It's feels somewhat standard, but I actually liked
the Terror Mask only doles out small pieces
of information about what it actually is and what Dr. West is planning.
It kept me interested, somewhat. Or at least enough to put up with a
whole lot of nonsense to get through the later parts of the game.
What I really like, particularly in short play sessions, about
Splatterhouse is the combat. Many of the moves are locked away until
Rick earns enough blood to "buy" them (and various upgrades), but after
about Level 5 or 6, there's a good number of combos open, with all sorts
of finishing (i.e. "Splatter") moves to highlight the carnage. Dropping
into the Survival Arenas, with their wave-after-wave of enemies, really
shows off what Splatterhouse has to offer. It's just too bad that the
Story mode ventures into the platforming realm as "change of pace" to
the fighting because then things start to get poked in the eye.
The platforming is barely tolerable at best and utterly frustrating at
its worst. There are portions of the game that pay homage to to
Splatterhouse's flat-plane punching action where the platforming is
Rick will still fall to his death quite often, but it's still not
controller-throwing levels of frustration.
No, that's saved for the select parts of the game where the platforming
moves into the 3D realm and instant death becomes a guarantee. That's
when the wheels fall off and the Anger valve gets thrown wide open.
And it might not be so frustrating if I could get right back into the
game. I just spent time with TRON Evolution and I died a lot in that
game. The difference is that every time Rick dies it can be a 15 - 30
second load time, depending on if Splatterhouse is installed on the hard
drive. Compare that to TRON's 2 or 3 seconds, even without being
installed on the hard drive. If I spend 20 seconds getting to a crummy
platforming section only to die and have to wait a half minute before
making another attempt, frustration levels spike.
At least with these platforming parts of Splatterhouse, you don't have
to worry about controlling the camera. The camera barely changes, it's
only with constant user control that demons can be kept in view. It
never seems to adjust to anything. A dozen enemies could be bearing down
on Rick just off screen but the camera will not swing around to give him
a better chance of not being completely gutted. It becomes second nature
to babysit the camera.
Maybe this particular bother isn't as big as the camera or horrible
platforming or long load times, but it still bugged me. For some reason,
each level contains torn up pictures of Jenny in various poses and
states of dress scattered throughout. These collectibles aren't a
problem to me. My problem is with the fact she actually printed out
these pictures. On paper? Who does that anymore?
Back to the point though, Splatterhouse is actually more satisfying than
the original games, even with all of the game's problems. In that way
it's a successful reboot. Not perfect, far from it, but there were times
I actually had fun with Splatterhouse's Survival Arenas because I liked
the combat. And all that blood and carnage makes for a bit of catharsis
after Donkey Kong Country Returns.