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Splatterhouse Arcade Game

Updated on September 24, 2013
RetroBrothers profile image

Martin has been a software developer for many years. This is mixed with a passion for retro machines and game,

Splatterhouse Arcade Game

Splatterhouse was a beat 'em up arcade game developed and published by arcade stalwarts Namco.

Released in 1988 it was soon shrouded in controversy due to the violent nature of the game and it's underlying 'horror slasher' theme.

This no doubt added to its popularity and it ended up being a real attention grabber in amusement arcades up and down the land.

Games this popular ended up being ported to home computers and consoles and it ended up being converted to the PC and TurboGrafx-16 console.

In fact the TurboGrafx port of Splatterhouse had a parental advisory warning printed on the box that read "The horrifying theme of this game may be inappropriate for young children... and cowards." Humorous stuff.

With Halloween approaching it seems appropriate to play this one again and re-live many a happy 10p spent in my relentless addiction to Splatterhouse...

Splatterhouse Back Story

In the game the player controlled Rick, a parapsychology student who was trapped inside the rather horrific and gory 'West Mansion'.

Both him and his girlfriend had took shelter there during a heavy storm before demonic creatures had taken Jennifer and fatally wounded Rick.

Rick was left for dead until the 'Terror Mask' attached itself to him and brought him back from the dead.

After his resurrection by the Terror Mask (don't ask me how, just go with it!), Rick had to make his way through the mansion, fighting off hordes of creatures in an attempt to save Jennifer from a gruesome fate.

The mask, once fused with Rick, granted him superhuman strength.

The superhuman Rick could now go on a rampage through the dungeon and the mansion grounds, dispathing hordes of monsters in his wake.

Any horror fans would quickly recognise a number the in game horror film influences, such as Friday the 13th and the Evil Dead series.

Our hero Rick actually resembled horror icon Jason Vorhees in his boiler suit and terror mask getup from the get-go, and the level design and creatures would not have looked out of place in any 1980s slasher flick.

Splatterhouse Arcade Gameplay

Note the gory setting in Splatterhouse
Note the gory setting in Splatterhouse

Splatterhouse Arcade Cabinet

The menu screen to Splatterhouse as seen in an original cabinet
The menu screen to Splatterhouse as seen in an original cabinet

Splatterhouse Arcade Gameplay

Similar to many sidescrolling beat 'em up games from the era, Rick could only move in a 2D environment.

Our hero could jump, punch and kick and move to the left or right through the playing area.

Rick was also endowed with a Special Attack. This special attack allowed him to execute a drop kick that sent him 'skidding' along the ground, damaging any enemies he came into contact with.

Rick could also perform a low kick, a low punch, and a jumping attack making him a good all round brawler. Various weapons were placed in the levels and these could be collected and utilised to help splatter your way through the evil creatures.

All of the levels consisted of walking left to right, with a number of occasional auto-scrolling sections.

To add some variety to the game, alternative pathways through sections of the house were possible by dropping down through holes or climbing ladders.

This was a good example of 'branching gameplay' and it encouraged players to try the game again and see what each different route was like.

As any good arcade game in the genre, levels culminated in 'boss fights' that took place in a single static room.

Each boss had to be overcome if you wanted to advance to the next level.

Splatterhouse Arcade Game In Action - Walkthrough

Popularity of Splatterhouse in the arcades

Due to it's fairly unique setting, gore and violence this is a game that ended up being more popular than corn syrup in a Lucio Fulci flick.

Controversy usually leads to publicity which usually leads to more popularity; and this was the case with Splatterhouse.

Despite all of the gore and evil creatures it was actually a very playable and addictive game.

I ended up feeding Splatterhouse machines with plenty of 10 pence pieces over many a mis-spent hour in a seaside arcade.

For me this is one of the most memorable games from the late 1980s and is still well worth a look today.

The popularity of the game spawned a couple of gory sequels (Splatterhouse 2 and 3) which I will be looking at shortly.

A classic.

Splatterhouse Comic Back Story

A flyer telling the back story to the game
A flyer telling the back story to the game

An end of level boss in Splatterhouse

An end of level boss awaits in Splatterhouse...
An end of level boss awaits in Splatterhouse...

Splatterhouse Arcade Music

Splatterhouse - a step up in horror

It is fair to say that this was the first proper 'gory' game that I ever played on any format.

Long before the 'blood' in Mortal Kombat alarmed many non gamers for no good reason, this game had gore, blood and guts by the bucket load.

Even the in-game music was suitably horrific and added to atmosphere, increasing the feeling of impending dread as you made your way through the mansion.

It was a real step up in the 'horror' genre when compared to the likes of Ghosts n Goblins and Ghouls n Ghosts, and managed to appeal to fans of beat em up's as well as horror buffs.

The controversy soon died down though and after a while this game became became just another stalwart of the arcade.

Just the way it should be.

Splatterhouse Arcade Flyer

An arcade flyer for Namco's Splatterhouse
An arcade flyer for Namco's Splatterhouse

The Turbo 16 Grafx case for Splatterhouse

This is how the boxed version of Splatterhouse looked for the Turbo 16 Grafx console
This is how the boxed version of Splatterhouse looked for the Turbo 16 Grafx console

Splatter house front cover with warning message for the Turbo 16 Grafx

Note the humorous 'warning' on this cover for Splatterhouse on the Turbo 16 Grafx
Note the humorous 'warning' on this cover for Splatterhouse on the Turbo 16 Grafx

Another advertisement for the Splatterhouse arcade game

Note the horror style prose in this advert for Splatterhouse arcade game...
Note the horror style prose in this advert for Splatterhouse arcade game...

Any fans of this classic game?

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    • RetroBrothers profile image

      Martin Allan 4 years ago from Sunny Scotland

      That's exactly it - the whole game was inspired by various horror movies. The central character resembles Jason Vorhees a lot!

    • Ruggrats profile image

      Justin Watkins 4 years ago from lakewood Washington

      hey is that Jason?!