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Splatterhouse

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1up's Splatterhouse preview.

 

In the thousands they come, these otherworldly hobgoblins that invade our precious world, rife with ill intent, bristling with tooth and claw. If they were to have their way, they'd rend every one of us to pieces for the sheer thrill of it -- or for nothing more than a midnight snack. But they won't have their way today, because Rick is back, and Rick will turn this tide of horror and decay with brute force and zero prejudice!

 

Who is this Rick, you might ask? Old-school gamers will remember him as the stout Jason Voorhees wannabe who prowled the mean streets of Namco's Splatterhouse some 20 years ago in arcades across the nation. While many classic gaming franchises spend years in dormant slumber, waiting for the moment when they can awaken, Rip Van Winkle-like, into a new world, most are usually exhumed and repurposed as standalone ports or as fodder to fatten the ranks of myriad arcade collections (like Namco Bandai's own Museum series). Splatterhouse stands out because, except for a recent Virtual Console resurrection, it's languished untouched for the last 15 years. Besides that half-hearted contribution to modern gaming culture, Rick, his girlfriend, Jennifer, and their nemesis, Dr. West, have been waiting what seems like an eternity to return to the spotlight. That time is now.

 

When is the right time to make a comeback? In the case of Splatterhouse, a notable anniversary is reason enough to pump new blood into older franchises, and for Rick and co., they're 20 years young. Splatterhouse, Namco Bandai's beat-em-up that last troubled consoles with its third incarnation -- Splatterhouse 3 -- on the Sega Genesis back in 1993, 15 long years ago, seems poised to take the modern gaming era by the throat. Veteran gamers will welcome the return of the cartoon horror series, if only to see how Namco Bandai reinvents the characters and mythology for the modern age. Younger gamers who don't recognize the name's marquee value will come for the simple-yet-irresistible banquet of over-the-top action and gore. This is most definitely not your TurboGrafx-16's Splatterhouse.

 

 

Reanimator

 

Although this is a reinvention of Splatterhouse, it isn't a sequel. The plot is essentially the same as it was 20 years ago. Rick, an average guy, and Jennifer, his hottie girlfriend, attend Miskatonic University together, studying necrobiology -- aka "the biology of the dead" -- under the watch of their professor, Dr. West.

 

One day, monsters kidnap Jennifer, maim Rick, and leave him for dead. As he crawls along the ground, leaving a trail of his own blood, he happens upon a mysterious mask that offers him near-unlimited power and strength so he can save his girlfriend. But at what price? Rick, knowing that he's unlikely to ever land another babe as hot as Jennifer, eagerly accepts the offer, places the mask on his head, and transforms from collegiate geek to hulking monstrosity. Transformation complete, Rick sets off in search of Dr. West -- who, ironically, is responsible for the massive influx of interdimensional horrors (known as the Corrupted) flooding into our world through destabilized portals scattered around the globe.

 

Twenty years ago, this premise may have been enough to put any ol' 2D sprite on the screen, stick a 2-by-4 in his hands, and let players pummel anything in sight. But times are different, and a new generation of gamers demands a new kind of antihero. So the producers, inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and '80s splatter flicks, were faced with reinventing Rick for the modern age.

 

The first ace up Namco Bandai's sleeve is its selection of developer for Splatterhouse: BottleRocket Entertainment. Better known as the guys behind Sony's PS2 hits The Mark of Kri (2002) and Rise of the Kasai (2005), BottleRocket has a reputation for creating attractive, innovative, and deceptively violent action games. Anyone familiar with those games might wonder how BottleRocket would transition from, say, The Mark of Kri's smooth, almost Disney-esque visuals to something more in line with today's graphical showcases. BottleRocket creative director Erik Medina gets right to the point. "Something like The Mark of Kri, which did have a much more simple shape and color palette to it, really suited its content. [splatterhouse] is just grittier. It's scary. It's a horror title. It's called Splatterhouse," he says. "Immediately, it evokes ideas of texture and grit and grime, and, you know, it's a completely different mood." The game, even at this early stage (it's set for release on PS3/Xbox 360 in mid-2009), looks great.

 

Of course, Rick looks pumped. His mask has been redesigned to look more like a skull than a hockey mask, and he looks less like the moonshine runner of games past and more like hulking comic hero The Maxx (you may know him from the short-lived MTV series) -- which should come as little surprise, since most of the development team are comic-book fans. Namco Bandai producer Mark Brown further defines Rick's new look: "Rick is inspired by Mr. Hyde from Van Helsing. He has an apelike quality to the way he moves."

 

Also, Rick is endowed with a little more supernatural juice than in past games, allowing him to switch into Berserker mode if his necrotic energy bar is full. Necrotic energy, which he gets from every enemy he kills, allows him to do a couple of things. The first, Berserker mode, causes spikes to erupt from his body and gives him superpowered strength for a limited time. It's harder to control him, but the ensuing carnage is worth it. The second thing he can do with this seeping, green energy is raise the dead. With the body count high, there's rarely any shortage of worthwhile corpses to reanimate, and as long as he has enough necrotic energy, he can raise a small army of demons to take into battle or bash down doors. While the developers do not plan to turn Splatterhouse into a Resident Evil-style puzzle-solving game, they said that the reanimated corpses, the necrotic energy, and "necro-puzzles" will definitely factor into the game.

 

The house that Rick built

 

The environments and enemies are what really make the game shine. Splatterhouse is infused with the Havok physics engine, and stuff is destructible at every turn. Rick can really level the place by knocking enemies into the woodwork -- or by grabbing baddies and using "Splatter Kills" to slam them into structures like a juiced-up WWE madman. Splatter Kills result in a lot of gore, coughing up body parts that Rick can use as weapons. If he's in a baseball kind of mood, ripping the head off a nearby monster allows him to pitch it like a fastball. If he'd rather go to bat, a nearby arm or leg will do in a pinch. Naturally, Rick takes damage, too, and the abuse appears on his body as gashes and lacerations that reveal his inner workings. Thankfully, the mask helps Rick regenerate his health in real time.

 

BottleRocket has clearly spent a lot of time generating each of the game's menacing levels, which range from a dilapidated shantytown that shakes as a train full of gruesome cargo runs through its center to an abandoned carnival that rests in a foggy, overgrown bayou to an icy, underground Nazi battleship, complete with shuffling, frozen zombies. Each of the planned levels, which are accessed through portals, are peppered with what Namco Bandai calls "jump nodes." Allowing for platforming action without the problems usually associated with such mechanics, the jump nodes, for lack of a better comparison, are similar to the lock-on grappling hook in Devil May Cry 4. While not quite as automatic as those -- Splatterhouse still allows some room for failure, providing incentive to approach these platform elements with real skill -- the jump nodes allow for vertical action in ways that the past games never attempted. In the shantytown area, Rick swings, apelike, from node to node on a 2D plane. BottleRocket president Jonathan "Jay" Beard describes Rick's movement along these nodes as "monkey-cage dynamics." As Rick makes his way across the deep chasms below him, Morlocks -- the enemy BottleRocket designed to make life hell for Rick in the nodes -- hassle and harry him every step of the way. While attached to a node, Rick can swat enemies away, but timing is key.

 

Not everything is on a 1-to-1 size ratio with Rick, though. We spotted giant bosses, à la God of War II, in our tour through the game. One guardian, which patrols Dr. West's estate, is a giant, burning wicker man (how they hide these things, we'll never know), and Rick will have to make use of jump nodes spread across the wicker man's burning body in order to reach his weak spot. It's reminiscent of Shadow of the Colossus, but BottleRocket's execution is wholly original.

 

 

A sort of homecoming

 

Besides the guy in the mask, what else about Splatterhouse will really scream "Splatterhouse"? In terms of homage, BottleRocket plans to incorporate a wealth of nods to the past that should please hardcore fans. Weapons like the classic 2-by-4 are a lock to return, as well as cleavers and shotguns -- it just wouldn't be Splatterhouse without them. Key bosses -- like Biggie Man, the giant with chain saws for hands -- returns to the fray. Other bosses, minibosses, and monsters include leeches, which any Splatterhouse fan should recognize, as well as creatures like Clawface (a pus-encrusted freak whose weak points are the pus sacs on his head), and Robo-Ape, Dr. West's personal simian bodyguard.

 

With all of these disparate elements coming together to create a bruiser of a brawler, it's worth wondering what the final, polished product will be like. Beard has an idea. "I think it's going to upset every mother in North America but make every father happy. Every dad's gonna be like, 'That's f***ing awesome,' and every mom's going to be like, 'I cannot believe he's doing that. That's just disgusting.' There's going to be grandmothers fainting all over the place. It's going to be revolting."

 

Screens

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www.1up.com

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A big bump to this thread, since the game is being pretty much ignored all around. :)

 

The game has come a long way since this thread's original post (and the team of developers was switched), and it's finally going to be released this week.

 

For those not already aware, this new title also includes the following bonus games on the disc:

-Splatterhouse (Arcade)

-Splatterhouse 2 (Mega Drive)

-Splatterhouse 3 (Mega Drive)

 

A couple of trailers:

 

 

So, is anyone else also interested in the game?

Edited by Funktion

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I will maybe pick it up much later down the line...when its cheap as was a big fan of the originals...remember a takeaway or a video rental store near my house used to have the machine and played it a ton...

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Looks quite good actually. Shame it'll get raped with this release schedule. I'll give it a rent.

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I've been pretty busy at work, so I only started playing the game last night.

I must say I'm enjoying the heck of it, far more than I expected (since I'm not really a fan of the genre for this new game).

 

As a fan of the horror genre, I always had a special place for Splatterhouse (and Castlevania). There's just something about the simple premise of going in alone to a mansion or castle to fight demonic creatures to get your girl back. How more manly can it get than that? :laughing:

Unlike the Castlevania series, I wouldn't say the games in the Splatterhouse series are particularly good. They featured somewhat "clunky" gameplay, and all you did was basically walk in a 2D plane (Splatterhouse 3 changed that a bit) and beat the crap out of everything, until you reach a usually frustrating boss encounter that beats the crap out of you in return. But the whole "grotesque" graphics and look of the game, along with that minimalistic and spooky soundtrack convened to form an "ambiance" that got me hooked.

 

When the new game was announced, I wasn't really impressed. It just didn't seem like a Splatterhouse game. Most screenshots featured locations and enemies that were unlike anything from past games (too bright, too clean), and it just seemed they dropped a character with a Splatterhouse mask in yet another generic action title. Plus, I'm not really a fan of these 3rd person action titles, since I usually get easily bored with 3D "hack and slash" gameplay unless it's an RPG with plenty of quests to do (yes, I'm not a fan of games such as Devil May Cry and similar; after 10-15 minutes of fun, I simply have to drag myself to continue to play, which is ironic, since I love 2D Beat 'em ups and play pretty much everyone I find, and they involve the same, if not more, repetition :p).

 

Somewhere along the line the original developers where dropped, and a new team stepped in, including some of the people who made the universally panned Afro Samurai game, and my interest went down even some more.

It was when the Retro Trailer I previously posted was released that my curiosity and interest for the title were finally picked, and I equally enjoyed the trailers that came afterward.

 

So last night I started playing the game, and like I mentioned I'm pleasantly surprised. The team that handled the game clearly knew the original games quite well, so there's plenty of clever nods to the past games in the series.

A good example is when the perspective changed the first time to a 2D plane, like the original titles, and new versions of tracks from the first game started playing. It just felt like a Splatterhouse game.

 

Like I mentioned several times already, I'm not a fan of 3D action titles such as this, but the whole grotesque atmosphere and look that always characterized the series is back, and the game managed to keep me fully interested for the 4 hours or so that I played yesterday. While at first the number of moves may seem limited and the combat a bit shallow, when you start getting upgrades the number of moves and combos you start making will actually make for some fun gameplay, and you will be beating and chopping your enemies to pieces in painful ways. In my case I think it helped that the gameplay is more similar to a good ol' beat'em up, with body to body combat, unlike most 3D hack and slash titles that mostly use weapons and somewhat ranged combat.

 

The voice acting on this game is also top notch. Dr. West (one of the plenty H. P. Lovecraft references in the series) sounds great, like a cultured yet insane person, and the wisecracking mask (yes, the mask speaks, and it keeps dropping sadistic puns that seem like they came from any of the Nightmare on Elm Street sequels) makes things always fun, and interested in what comes next.

 

Additionally, the game adds a few things to help keep your interest. You unlock quite a bit of side-content to help flesh out the characters (and their background stories) and the whole universe of the game (the origin of the monsters, ...) such as gramophones spread throughout the game, which play what we can call bits from an audio-log from Dr. West (which in turn unlock pages from a journal of his experiences, all with audio narration), and pieces of naked pictures from Rick's girlfriend (which also feature info on when and where they were taken, along with some audio bits from Jennifer). Additionally, the game keeps unlocking new things such as new moves, arenas for an alternate mode (which in turn unlock more content for the main game, such as weapons), masks, and let's not forget emulated versions of the older games in the series: Splatterhouse (Arcade), Splatterhouse 2 (Mega Drive) and Splatterhouse 3 (Mega Drive). So far I only unlocked the first game, since I'm at chapter 3.

 

If anyone in here enjoyed and is familiar with past titles in the series, I recommend you give this game a look.

 

For those interested Zavvi is now selling the game for £17.95 (Xbox 360 and PS3 versions). I paid almost twice that amount... :o

Edited by Funktion

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I've been pretty busy at work, so I only started playing the game last night.

I must say I'm enjoying the heck of it, far more than I expected (since I'm not really a fan of the genre for this new game).

 

As a fan of the horror genre, I always had a special place for Splatterhouse (and Castlevania). There's just something about the simple premise of going in alone to a mansion or castle to fight demonic creatures to get your girl back. How more manly can it get than that? :laughing:

Unlike the Castlevania series, I wouldn't say the games in the Splatterhouse series are particularly good. They featured somewhat "clunky" gameplay, and all you did was basically walk in a 2D plane (Splatterhouse 3 changed that a bit) and beat the crap out of everything, until you reach a usually frustrating boss encounter that beats the crap out of you in return. But the whole "grotesque" graphics and look of the game, along with that minimalistic and spooky soundtrack convened to form an "ambiance" that got me hooked.

 

When the new game was announced, I wasn't really impressed. It just didn't seem like a Splatterhouse game. Most screenshots featured locations and enemies that were unlike anything from past games (too bright, too clean), and it just seemed they dropped a character with a Splatterhouse mask in yet another generic action title. Plus, I'm not really a fan of these 3rd person action titles, since I usually get easily bored with 3D "hack and slash" gameplay unless it's an RPG with plenty of quests to do (yes, I'm not a fan of games such as Devil May Cry and similar; after 10-15 minutes of fun, I simply have to drag myself to continue to play, which is ironic, since I love 2D Beat 'em ups and play pretty much everyone I find, and they involve the same, if not more, repetition :p).

 

Somewhere along the line the original developers where dropped, and a new team stepped in, including some of the people who made the universally panned Afro Samurai game, and my interest went down even some more.

It was when the Retro Trailer I previously posted was released that my curiosity and interest for the title were finally picked, and I equally enjoyed the trailers that came afterward.

 

So last night I started playing the game, and like I mentioned I'm pleasantly surprised. The team that handled the game clearly knew the original games quite well, so there's plenty of clever nods to the past games in the series.

A good example is when the perspective changed the first time to a 2D plane, like the original titles, and new versions of tracks from the first game started playing. It just felt like a Splatterhouse game.

 

Like I mentioned several times already, I'm not a fan of 3D action titles such as this, but the whole grotesque atmosphere and look that always characterized the series is back, and the game managed to keep me fully interested for the 4 hours or so that I played yesterday. While at first the number of moves may seem limited and the combat a bit shallow, when you start getting upgrades the number of moves and combos you start making will actually make for some fun gameplay, and you will be beating and chopping your enemies to pieces in painful ways. In my case I think it helped that the gameplay is more similar to a good ol' beat'em up, with body to body combat, unlike most 3D hack and slash titles that mostly use weapons and somewhat ranged combat.

 

The voice acting on this game is also top notch. Dr. West (one of the plenty H. P. Lovecraft references in the series) sounds great, like a cultured yet insane person, and the wisecracking mask (yes, the mask speaks, and it keeps dropping sadistic puns that seem like they came from any of the Nightmare on Elm Street sequels) makes things always fun, and interested in what comes next.

 

Additionally, the game adds a few things to help keep your interest. You unlock quite a bit of side-content to help flesh out the characters (and their background stories) and the whole universe of the game (the origin of the monsters, ...) such as gramophones spread throughout the game, which play what we can call bits from an audio-log from Dr. West (which in turn unlock pages from a journal of his experiences, all with audio narration), and pieces of naked pictures from Rick's girlfriend (which also feature info on when and where they were taken, along with some audio bits from Jennifer). Additionally, the game keeps unlocking new things such as new moves, arenas for an alternate mode (which in turn unlock more content for the main game, such as weapons), masks, and let's not forget emulated versions of the older games in the series: Splatterhouse (Arcade), Splatterhouse 2 (Mega Drive) and Splatterhouse 3 (Mega Drive). So far I only unlocked the first game, since I'm at chapter 3.

 

If anyone in here enjoyed and is familiar with past titles in the series, I recommend you give this game a look.

 

For those interested Zavvi is now selling the game for £17.95 (Xbox 360 and PS3 versions). I paid almost twice that amount... :o

 

so wait do you like this genre or not?!

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so wait do you like this genre or not?!

Give me a break, English isn't my first language... :laughing:

 

I don't usually enjoy 3D action titles such as Devil May Cry, God of War, and so on. I find them fun for a very short amount of time, but afterwards I struggle to remain interested, mainly because of the repetitive gameplay mechanics (which, like I stated, is a bit odd, since I'm a huge fan of games with pretty much the same gameplay mechanics, but in 2D... :)).

 

What I do enjoy is the horror genre. And I really enjoyed what I played so far of this game, despite featuring gameplay I'm usually not really a fan of, probably helped by the whole "ambiance" of the game, along with great fidelity for the past games in the series. It kept me interested in what happens next.

 

Anyway, the point of my original post was to simply say: the game is surprisingly fun, very true to the previous games in the series, and anyone who enjoyed the previous games will probably find it to be greatly enjoyable. Also, it can now be found for quite cheap at Zavvi.

Edited by Funktion

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Give me a break, English isn't my first language... :laughing:

 

I don't usually enjoy 3D action titles such as Devil May Cry, God of War, and so on. I find them fun for a very short amount of time, but afterwards I struggle to remain interested, mainly because of the repetitive gameplay mechanics (which, like I stated, is a bit odd, since I'm a huge fan of games with pretty much the same gameplay mechanics, but in 2D... :)).

 

What I do enjoy is the horror genre. And I really enjoyed what I played so far of this game, despite featuring gameplay I'm usually not really a fan of, probably helped by the whole "ambiance" of the game, along with great fidelity for the past games in the series. It kept me interested in what happens next.

 

Anyway, the point of my original post was to simply say: the game is surprisingly fun, very true to the previous games in the series, and anyone who enjoyed the previous games will probably find it to be greatly enjoyable. Also, it can now be found for quite cheap at Zavvi.

 

Didn't mean offence was a genuine question I was unsure! Saw this was £17.95 at zavvi I still think I'd rather wait think this is a sub-£10 game or rental at best

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Didn't mean offence was a genuine question I was unsure!

None taken. :)

 

I was just joking with the fact that, when writing something in another language that's not your own, sometimes you don't express yourself the way you intended.

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This is the sort of game that I'll pick up in a shop and give my beard a good stroke, with eyebrows low and thoughtful; should I get this game?

 

I've still got DMC4 to finish, so maybe I should do that and hope the price has dropped.

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