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Before the likes of Silent Hill, Resident Evil and even Doom, we had Splatterhouse. Well, the first game existed in the Arcades and on the Turbo Grafx 16, but Sega Genesis and Mega Drive owners were able to get their hands on the sequel back in 1992.
Released by Namco, this brutal and gory side-scrolling beat-em-up was much more extreme than what you’d see in most games from around that time. You certainly wouldn’t find this on a Nintendo console! In the early 90’s, this was the closest thing to experiencing those famous horror films of the late 70’s and 80’s.
“Go Back to the House…”
In the first game you played as Rick who took refuge in a creepy house with his girlfriend Jennifer during a storm. She screams as the door shuts behind you and you wake up with a mask attached to your face that grants super-human strength and it’s basically up to you to save her.
I haven’t played the first game, but I’ve heard the ending causes confusion with the story for the western release of Splatterhouse 2. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but basically it was down to some odd choices with translation. You’re not returning to the same house this time, you actually walk through the remains of it during the first level. So hopefully that clears things up a little. No? Well don’t worry, the story isn’t too important here anyway.
As far as gameplay goes, Splatterhouse 2 is a pretty standard game; you move through the levels from left to right, avoiding traps and killing enemies before reaching a boss. Along the way you can pick-up weapons that allow you to kill things in interesting ways, such as splatting them on walls and smashing them into the ground. They often get dropped as you transition between stages though, leaving you to just jumps, kicks and punches for the most part.
“She Doesn’t Have to Die, Rick…”
This game can be extremely tough in places. Those of you with a high level of tolerance and patience would be able to learn the patterns and breeze through it in well under an hour. For the rest of us… well… let’s just say it may take a little longer, if you’re able to finish it at all.
There is a password system to help you continue progress, but I feel the difficulty isn’t just down to your skill level (that’s my excuse anyway!). The movement and controls feel a bit slow and sluggish, and the hit detection feels off in places. This is nowhere near as tight and responsive as Streets of Rage.
Whilst the game does feel slow, it does kind of make sense when you think about it. If the movement speed was faster I think it would lose that creepy vibe and increase the difficulty for reaction speed. I still hate the jumping though as Rick never seems to jump quite far enough for my liking, leaving you right on the edge of most obstacles and pitfalls.
The graphics and music in Splatterhouse 2 do a great job of capturing the mood and atmosphere. Personally I love the intro theme tune and since doing this review it’s been stuck in my head for days! The background music for each of the stages however aren’t particularly memorable, but they serve their purpose well.
“You Need Me”
Some of the enemies in this game look absolutely disgusting and the bosses look even worse! If you’re into horror, guts and gore, you’ll love what they’ve done here. There may be a few people that find the third bosses disturbing, which is understandable as it caused a lot of outrage back when this was originally released.
Splatterhouse 2 can be punishingly hard at times, seeming unfair and unresponsive. Often the trick is to learn enemy patterns, time your jumps and mash the attack button. That worked for me anyway. I’m not a pro at this at all, infact I’ve not been able to finish it yet, I just don’t have the patience. However, this game can be fun to play, especially around Halloween with friends taking turns. It’s tough, but it’s certainly not unbeatable.