Thursday, September 30, 2010

Splatterhouse 2 (1992, Namco, Sega Genesis)

Ah, I LOVE me some Splatterhouse! It's the Halloween season, and being the huge gore-fest horror movie buff, Splatterhouse is absolutely perfect for Halloween. I adore the Splatterhouse series because of it's numerous references to famous horror flicks. Splatterhouse also has buckets and buckets of gore. Delicious gore........

Uh, ahem. After reviewing the first game, I decided to look up and play the 2nd one, which apparently is only on the Genny. I would guess that the sequel would be on the TurboGrafx 16, but I digress.
The plot is kinda confusing due to it being edited for the American release. It's been three months since the events of the first game. Rick Taylor, the hero of the series, is being haunted by his inability to save his beloved Jessica, and the Terror Mask's visions. The mask beckons Rick to go back to the house and save her. Even though the house burned to the ground in the first game.

The gameplay is familiar to the first game: it is a side-scrolling action beat 'em up with a arcade flair. Rick still uses his meaty hands to obliterate the evil ghouls, along with lead pipes, shotguns, and thigh bones. You fight through the distinct stages until you reach the evil boss. Unfortunately, the diversity of the stages isn't as great as the original. Actually, as a matter of fact, the level design is kinda dull. It's not unbearably bad, but it's noticeable. But the action is still there, almost to a fault. You still slaughter hordes of evil monsters which always explode into a billion pieces when you hit them.

The graphics are pretty good. Everything has good detail to it and looks pretty good, especially for the Genesis, but nothing particularly jumps or stands out. They get the job done, I guess. Splatterhouse was never renowned for it's sound design, and this game is no exception, sadly. The tunes aren't bad, but they're not up to Sonic 3.

The game is a little more difficult than the 1st, mostly because of the bosses. The boss encounters in the 1st are pretty hard, but in this one they are just plain frustrating. Especially that monster who does the slide kick over and over again.

I think that the big issue with Splatterhouse 2 is that it's not really a sequel. It's more along the lines of a remake, as the house seems to be back(at least on the American version). People probably won't like the fact that Splatterhouse 2 is actually more of a retelling of the first one, even though the plot tries to tie it in with the 2nd one. I like this game a lot personally because it's more challenging and most importantly, more violent. So, if you don't like violent games, Splatterhouse 2 is not for you.

Splatterhouse 2 is that perfect game to play around Halloween time. I always play through the series every Halloween season, and I'm really hoping this reboot coming around this November is decent(I'm honestly more excited about Epic Mickey.) But if you are new to the series, you need to play the original first, or you will not understand the appeal of Splatterhouse 2. Horror buffs and gore hounds will love this game, but gamers looking for a deep experience should look elsewhere.

+ Lots of horror movie references and Delicious gore.
+ Challenging and Intense Arcade-style gameplay.
+ Decent graphics and Tunes that create the mood that the game's looking for.

A little too similar to the original.
- Confusing plot that seems to be a retelling of the 1st game.
- Frustrating and occasionally cheap bosses.

OVERALL:  ***7.8 out of 10***

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Splatterhouse (1990, Namco/NEC, Turbografx-16)

When I was visiting a friend of mine back a few years ago, he had just bought a system known as TurboGrafx 16. It was mint condition in the box, which admittedly looked like it seen better days, and came with 4 games: Bonk's Adventure, Blazing Lazers, R-Type, and a particularly interesting game called Splatterhouse.

This game stuck with me over the years because it was one of the first games to implement graphic violence in the gameplay. Now you should know, the Turbografx version is not the prime example if this: most, if not all of the violence, has been toned down or removed. Also, certain aspects of the arcade original were changed. I have not played the arcade version, so this post will be about the TurboGrafx version.

You are Rick Taylor, a college student out with his girlfriend Jennifer to visit the mansion of the infamous Dr. West. A storm hits and you and your girlfriend take shelter in the mansion. Turns out that was a mistake because the mansion is infested with numerous types of monsters, and they manage to get a hold of you and your girlfriend. They slaughter you and kidnap Jennifer, but fortunately for you, you are saved by a artifact called the Terror Mask. It revives you, giving you superhuman strength to fight the hordes of monsters to save your girlfriend.

Splatterhouse is a side-scrolling beat em' up. Rick can jump, crouch, and attack enemies with either his fists or numerous weapons laying around the mansion, such as cleavers, 2X4s, etc. The action takes place on one plane, meaning Rick can only move left and right, not up or down like Final Fight.
The controls are nice and responsive, but Rick slides a bit after letting go of the directional pad. This led to a cheap hit or death here and there, but it can be easy to work with if you practice. The real fun of Splatterhouse is the use of weaponry, as they commonly destroy enemies with one blow, leaving a nice violent aftermath. The difficulty is on the hard side, as Rick can only take 3-5 hits before losing a life. Pattern recognition is the name of the game here, and if you are just a little slow on the draw, you are a dead man. Add in some tricky bosses, and you have yourself a hell of a time. Thankfully it's worth the frustration and effort, because Splatterhouse is really fun to play.

The main draw to Splatterhouse is the violence. Rick dispatches his gruesome foes in equally gruesome fashion, green goop flying all over the place, heads flying off, smashing monsters into the walls, leaving a nice stain. The mansion Rick goes through has seen better days, holes riddle the floors, along with countless unidentifiable remains. The boreworm stages look like piles of bloody meat stacked up, and the final boss looks like a human pizza (seriously.). In general, the game's visuals depends on if you like horror films (like me.) If you love gore, you'll love Splatterhouse. All others probably won't like it at all.

Not much to say here. The music isn't the least bit memorable, and the sound effects don't really give your attacks any impact. Kind of an disappointment, really.

Sadly, the TG16 port of Splatterhouse is heavily censored out. Most of the violence was softened a bit, a good example being the splatter effect when you smash a zombie against the wall in the first area. In the original, the zombie splattered green all over the wall, and slid down, leaving a nice blood streak on the way down. The TG16 edition simply shows the zombie smashed against the wall, nearly bloodless. Another case is with the boss in the chapel stage. The original being a inverted cross, and the revision being another mask. Understandable that they would change this, seeing that it would cause a great deal of controversy, but it's still a buzzkill.

Well, what can I say? Splatterhouse screams "Guilty Pleasure". The violence is the main appeal of the Splatterhouse series, but if you take that away, then it feels kind of like a Kung Fu clone, and a sloppy one at that. And that's the big flaw with the TurboGrafx version, it feels cut down. Not just because it's a port on inferior hardware (which it is), because NEC removed most of the violence to avoid problems with parents, which eliminates the purpose of releasing it here in the states any way. As it stands, it's an okay game at best, it gives a bit of challenge, and it's still kinda fun, but I would find a way to play the original arcade game.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Rant on E.T for the Atari 2600.

Everyone knows about this game. E.T is very famous (or infamous, rather) for being the "worst game ever made." I never got around to playing this game because of it's brutally negative reception. But, after reading some articles on this apparent trash heap, I finally got around to playing it. And in my honest opinion, the game isn't terrible.

Now I'm not saying the game is fantastic, because it's not, but it is a very playable game with a lot of interesting elements that are always overlooked in the reviews I have seen and read. First thing is the random nature of the game. The objective of this game is to find all of the parts to a phone so E.T can phone home. To find the parts, you have to search in holes to get them. All of these parts you must acquire are placed randomly every single time you play, giving the game alot of replayability. The graphics are nice, clean, and colorful. They aren't as good as Ms. Pac-Man, but they are still quite nice. E.T also has a nice rendition of the theme song on the title screen, too.

But there is a issue with the holes you must fall in, that isn't exaggerated. When you fall into one, you must levitate back out. The issue is that it's not always easy to, because if you are too close to the edge, you'll slide back in. This happens too much and can burn through your valuable energy. Also there are actions that you can perform, such as eating candy to restore your power, and shake your enemies off of your tail, a FBI agent, and a scientist. But these actions have to be performed in certain areas that seem to be completely random in location. It's usually easy to find these areas, but it's still kinda silly that it seems random when you can restore your energy.

But these are minor gripes! There are too many people that completely rip apart this game because of minor issues. This not bad. But it's still kind of an off title in the 2600 library, not one I would prefer. There are two reasons that people rip this game: It's very complex for a 2600 game, and most people who bash it never played it. Wow, the game actually requires you to read the damn manual! Shocker! The complexity is refreshing for a Atari game, and makes the game a Zelda-like adventure. A lot of people who rag on E.T have never even played it. People probably do this because it's common knowledge in the gaming community and it comes natural for most gamers to say that it's a bad game. I understand this mentality and I actually did the same thing at one point, but then I decided to actually look in the game in-depth, and actually seen a O.K game.

Oh, and the Video Game Crash of '83?  E.T had little to do with it.

E.T didn't almost ruin the video game industry. Atari almost ruined the industry.

You see, Atari produced E.T in mass quantities, because most E.T merchandise sold like hotcakes, so Atari had the same idea and made 3.5 million copies ready to ship out in Christmas 1982. E.T only sold 1.5 million.
So, the rumors about the cartridges being buried out in New Mexico, are true. E.T didn't stop selling because it was known as a awful game, it stopped selling because it was already sold to it's target audience. Believe it or not, E.T has sold more copies that Super Metroid.

The whole situation was simply overestimating how well E.T would sell. Atari was simply being a greedy corporation, and tried to milk their consumer base for all it's worth. And that decision ended up swimming up and biting them in the ass.

So if you hear about some moron on the internet complaining his ass off about how much E.T on the Atari 2600 sucks, just laugh, stand up, and say "You have no idea what the hell you're talking about."

(Note: I quote an article I seen a few months back, I don't remember what it is unfortunately.)