Namco’s Bloody Revival Grafts Together Old And New

Posted on November 11, 2010

Rick awakes in a pool of his own blood. His girlfriend has been kidnapped and he’s losing blood fast. Suddenly a disembodied voice calls to him, beckoning him to don a macabre mask that has appeared before him. Left without a choice, the feeble college student pulls on the mask. In a scene that would make Bruce Banner jealous, Rick’s muscles swell to monstrous proportions, resulting in a hulking, raging berserker.

Splatterhouse, Namco Bandai’s modern update to the classic horror series, begins with a ‘roided Rick in the throes of a powered-up rage mode, his answer to Dante’s Devil Trigger. Every button push causes the beefy protagonist to swipe at the copious enemies with scythe-like forearms. Paying tribute to gory side-scrolling games before it, buckets of blood spill across the floor and screen with each attack. The time and energy Namco put into the effects of each crimson ribbon is striking. This may be the bloodiest game I’ve ever seen.

All that red stuff is important, too, because hoarding hemoglobin is how you gain access to new abilities in Splatterhouse. The combat is a by-the-numbers mix of light and heavy attacks, usually driven by Rick’s fists and the occasional 2×4. Punching through hordes of spiky, deformed foes lets Rick soak up the life force, which he can use to upgrade health and learn new moves. Destroying lots of enemies also builds his Necro Energy, which he uses to siphon health from the surrounding enemies and execute other special moves. Attacking enemies with fists in a God of War-style game isn’t the most satisfying feeling in the world, so hopefully weapons are integrated into the later levels. Rick’s grievous wounds are reflected on his body, akin to Weapon X’s gory wounds in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Even a dismembered arm will regenerate with time, creating the cool effect of a stumpy arm swelling to a fully-functioning limb.

Speaking of dismemberment, Rick takes a cue from Kratos with his own set of R-rated finishing moves. He can crush heads, sever spines, and even rip off an enemy’s arm and use it as a bludgeon. Dramatic camera angles set against a pitch black backdrop, allowing you to fully appreciate the unbridled gruesomeness of Rick’s fatalities.

On his quest to reclaim his girlfriend from the deranged Dr. West, Rick travels to the dungeon of a decrepit mansion. Here the action takes a break from 3D combat to pay tribute to the Genesis-era Splatterhouse titles. Rick runs to the right of the screen side-scroller style, lopping enemies in half with a meat cleaver, leaping over spike traps, and dodging pendulous spike balls. This 2D excursion not only evokes nostalgic memories of those past titles, but it breaks up the game’s pace. Traveling from room to room in the game’s first stage gets repetitive quickly, so hopefully the final version adds more variety like this to the overall formula.

Splatterhouse mostly consists of Rick traveling from room to room, clearing out the abominations within. Sometimes he has to spill enough blood on the floor or impale bad guys on spikes to progress. Most of the time is spent punching pus bags and watching them die in gratuitously violent ways. If you’re feeling feisty you can collect scraps of erotic pictures of Rick’s girlfriend Jennifer scattered around the mansion. Introverted tweens with limited access to the Internet may get a kick out of these.

Eventually Rick comes across a possessed baby doll. Before the mask (narrated by Jim Cummings, voice of Dr. Robotnik from Sonic the Hedgehog: The Animated Series) can warn him how deadly the toy is, it springs to life. The haunted doll rises into the air, melding with objects like broken furniture, pictures, and even a clock tower to create a towering junk golem. The beast throws enemies at our hero, stomps the ground to create shockwaves, and attempts impalement with the clock tower’s spire. Rick dodges, attacks, and dodges some more throughout the three-phase boss fight. Eventually the gigantic enemy is staggered, and Rick unleashes his berserker mode, triggering a quicktime event. If the player fails even one of these button/analog-stick movements during this kill sequence it results in instant death, so precision is key. Finally, he rips the evil dolly from the thing’s womb and murders it, ending our time with Splatterhouse.

If you adored the bloody, old school side-scrollers of yesteryear than you’ll want to keep your eyes on Splatterhouse. The game aims to please fans of the old series while injecting it with the blood of modern action titles. Unlockable versions of the original games are available, offering even more incentive to fans. Splatterhouse bursts onto shelves November 23 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Go to Source (Game Informer)

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Categories: Game News, Game Secrets

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