Sunday, 27 November 2011

The Rise and Fall of Splatterhouse

Having recently played through the reboot of Splatterhouse on PS3, it was a pleasant surprise to find the three original Splatterhouse games available to play on the disc. It led me to read up a little on the history of the games and find out how a potentially great IP such as this has re-emerged on modern consoles just to fade back into obscurity again.

First released in 1988, I distinctly remember seeing the original Splatterhouse in the arcades in Japan as a child and being both disturbed and intrigued all at once. A simple side-scrolling horror beat ‘em-up, the macabre subject matter, copious gore and violence lingered in my mind as being a unique game of its time.

You can watch a longplay of the game HERE. (If you don't know what a longplay is, that’s explained HERE.)

Obviously, by today’s standard the gore and violence of the original games are pretty tame – now everything is just amped up to a ridiculous degree as can be seen from this side by side comparison of posters.

The one on the left is the poster for Splatterhouse 2 released in 1992 and the one on the right is a ‘homage’ version of the same poster but for the more recent 2010 game.

After gaining popularity as cult games, the series was revived in 2010 with the new reboot of Splatterhouse released on consoles. Whilst not really groundbreaking, the game managed to successfully translate the gameplay into an ultraviolent 3D action brawler with more blood than I have seen in any game to date.

I particularly like how it is an entirely new game in itself and yet homages the old games with its setting, characters and enemies as well as love for the horror genre in general, with numerous references to H.P Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, Re-animator and Evil Dead.

However the game failed to do well commercially due to two factors – firstly an initial moment of trouble during production when the publisher Namco Bandai dropped the original development team BottleRocket and moved all the production internally.

Despite recovering from this and gradually building up the hype again during production, the second killer stroke came when Namco Bandai hit financial difficulties and dropped all support for the game with no advertising, promotion or demo leading up to the games launch. Further on it was revealed that the whole development team had been laid off.
With lacklustre reviews (some say the lack of payoffs to big reviewers contributed to this) and minimal exposure, Splatterhouse spectacularly tanked and with the development team disbanded a sequel or any future addition to this IP is highly unlikely. You can read all about the debacle HERE.

Although not a massive fan of the Splatterhouse games, I love their style and have an admiration for their legacy – and personally (although this would likely never happen given the events that have transpired) would love to see the main character Rick appear as a guest character somewhere along the line in the Soul Calibur or Tekken Series.

One can only dream…

26 Nov 2011

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