Nearly four years before Midway's Mortal Kombat made headlines for its shocking portrayal of blood and gore, Namco tested the waters of good taste with its own aptly named title, Splatterhouse. With a design heavily influenced by popular horror films of the day, players were treated to graphic depictions of violence as they fought their way through a sea of enemies on a vain quest to save their girlfriend and escape the cursed West Mansion.
The story, like all good splatter stories, isn't little more than your standard clichéd affair designed to tie one vicious killing to another. All you need to know is that you are a hulking beast of a man in a mask and the spitting image of Jason Voorhees. With your trusty fist, knife or two-by-four at your side, you will battle through the various stages of the mansion eviscerating whatever happens stand in your way. This is where Splatterhouse truly shines. Enemy designs are wholly unique and original, with the death animations alone making the game worth playing. My particular favourite happens to come when Rick, your character, has the two-by-four in his hands. You'll simply take a big ol' baseball swing and watch as the enemy goes splat against the background art, his guts bursting from his sides like an over-ripe melon. Disgusting, yes, but totally awesome.
Unfortunately, game play isn't nearly as inspired as the art design. Levels are fairly stale and interchangeable, enemies show little challenge and you'll often find yourself spending more time grappling with the slow walk and awkward jumps than with the creatures of the night. It's a real let down because solid game play would've made Splatterhouse a true classic, but it is manageable and not likely to cause great frustrations.
If you're the kind of person who'd be aroused by a title like Tokyo Gore Police, Splatterhouse is definitely for you. If you're not ... well, still give the game a look if you stumble across it. Who knows; your dark side might finally come out.