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1:19 AM on 03.02.2013

Not-so-retroview: The Saboteur

Please enjoy one of the best tracks used in this wonderful game while readind my blog:

Welcome to another of my "Not-So-Retroviews", this time, I'll talk about another gem of the industry that

probably deserves more than what it got, The Saboteur, for PC, XBOX 360 and PS3.
I'm sorry for my delay, I started to re-review a lot of games looking for a proper title to talk about, and I have been really busy with my webcomic as well, so my apologies, I hope you like this humble article.
The following analysis was made after playing the PS3 and PC version, with a computer that was below the minimum requirements at the time. I'll put the specs of my computer back then so you have a full understanding of some of my rant, though I said it was bellow the minimum:

AMD Athlon Dual Core 2.2ghz
Nvidia GeForce 7300GT 256mb DDR3
4gb RAM DDR2 800mhz
Compatible audio and plenty of HD space.

So you see, it was rather low spec and the game didn't have a problem showing it, low fps, almost

unplayable, but at the time, I didn't have a PS3, so it was all I have. Now I have a far better computer, but I already sold the game, so yeah.

Well, this game certainly needs no introduction, it was fairly popular when it came out, and its considered to be the Swang Song of Pandemic according to Wikipedia. 2009 was a huge year for Sandbox new IPs, Prototype, Infamous and Vin Diesel's Wheelman, but let's forget about that one please, and we can even count Wolfenstein, even though it was FPS, and with a sandbox of the size of a match box. And we can count sequels if you want, with Assassin's Creed 2.

Like I said, a nice year for Sandbox games, and mostly new IPs, and The Saboteur was the last one of its kind to come out that year, and the last one ever from Pandemic.
The story put us in the shoes of Sean Devlin, a mechanic made racer on the very edge of the beginning of WWII, or rather a very stereotyped WWII, with anachronic weaponry, evil scientists, and weapons and guns made of sheet metal.
Sean has a deep grudges against one of them Germans, for killing his friend, and a French resistance make use of that to fuel his Irish Saboteur roots, while listening to radios with music made in 1964.

It's beautiful.

Seriously, the game seems to have accepted that it was no documentary, and decided to go nuts with the setting, which could be a turn-off for some history freaks, but I found it even more charming than a real replication of those events could ever be. It's things like this that makes games like Sniper Elite V2 mission "Snipe the Führer balls" a fun thing to do, while historically awful, it's fun and engaging, what else is needed?
Back to Sean, after a couple of introduction missions, we found out that he has no sympathy for the New Paris management, and it's invited to set France free of German domain, by accomplishing tasks given by the French resistance and some British SOE.
Now, while I made some mention of anachronic stuff, I think the game did a great work not disclossing accurate dates, since like I said, they decided not to make a documentary out of it, but, they decided to base their main character in someone who really existed, William Grover-Williams, you can look him up if you want to know more, case in point, while not a documentary, it used a lot of references from the time, to make it more appealing I guess, and decided to twist everything up.
For a game on such a grim time of humanity, grim is something this game is not. Clever jokes, colorful setting, half of it at least, and even the enemies look like they were taken from a cartoonish parody of Wolfenstein.
Sean is a smart mouth, a bit nitter, always tactless about his environment, and liking it.
Before digging in, I need to say, that I love this game, and it's the best game in 2009 for me, after Prototype, and no, I haven't forgot Batman:AA, I loved it too, but when it comes to fun Factor, Prototype has the crown, and Saboteur the silver crown I guess.
Speaking of references and humour, this game like I said, lacks none, plenty of missions names, and situations are either comical, based on references and both. The world may be in its grimmer time, but Sean knows how to forget about it, always with a sarcastic note under his sleeves, and I think that's the biggest game charm, because while he's being ironic about everything, the world itself remains most of the time trying to be serious, which makes it even funnier.
Prototype fun was simply turning yourself into a genocide swiss knife for some laughs, and it worked pretty fine, but Alex Mercer was mostly a party pooper, so the fun came mostly from within you. God, I may have to write a Not-so-retroview for Prototype as well, I promise to barely mantion it from no on.
I think the game had potential to be more that what ended being, but then, what failed? The game is popular, no one will deny it, but it never catch up to other series, and there were reasons for that, so let's analise this game for once.

Gameplay is one of the strongest points of Saboteur, but is also one that has a hard time to shine. Most of Saboteur gameplay mechanics were used before in another game, making this one hard not to relate to other games, let's take out of the ecuation the Sandbox element, simply because it's impossible not to compare it to GTA or Assassin's Creed. No, let's talk about other factors, like the climbing, something most Sandbox games took from Assassin's Creed, Infamous and Prototype did as well, so Saboteur couldn't be left out. But sadly, the way it's implemented didn't help the game. While you can climb, the enemy cannot, so it's easy to break the AI, and makes the game far less challenging than it should. The gunplay is rather good, and weapons are easy to come by, so you can go gun-ho, but pushing it will turn the screen red. While you can make a mess of Paris, the game encourages you to use stealth, and to not raise your wanted level.
I guess that one was pretty much took from GTA, especially the fourth, when you got heat on you, a red circle appears on the minimap indicating the danger area to be, you need to go unnoticed, then, get out of the circle or it will never disappear. I don't think that taking this element from GTA IV is a bad thing, but it's one of those that cannot go without mention, someone always will bring that thing when discussing the game.
Like I said before, stealth is the way to go, so the best choice will be to take out with your bare hands on any Nazi without being caught, and take his clothes, to enter secure areas or hard to reach places, like you did on hitman series. Again, I don't think it's bad, but who can avoid making the comparison?
While stealth is pretty much a no brainer, another thing that can really help is doing A LOT of Free roaming sabotage, that will reduce the difficult of some missions drastically. Unlike some other games, most of Saboteur Free-roaming targets could significantly change the difficulty of story driven missions, getting rid of a sniper nest could be a good help, when you got heat on you and need to break the AI by going to the rooftops, so at least, you have some incentive to get rid of some white dots on the minimap. Other targets may be irrelevant except for trophy/achievement whoring, and ultimately boring sometimes, but I guess it could give the game a little longer life if you're into slave, unpaid work.
Another thing to keep in mind, is not to mess up with the citizens too much, you start to lose bonuses if you take your rage on them, and eventually get chased by the resistance itself, a thing they will ultimately forgive once you died, because you're still their hero I guess.
Driving is another one of the mechanics that's really fun to do, you can access to some races later on, or you can hijack a Nazi vehicle and wreck some chaos. The races are great, but sadly, they cannot be repeated, and there are not much of them either, so it's a pity to have one of the most fun elements in the game to be so short, in comparison to have 400 free roam targets in the middle of Paris.
Most vehicles are really well designed and most fo them have their own personality, so even taking a super slow lorry can be of fun from time to time.
The game also features Perks, that can be really a game changer, and what's great about them is that it doesn't require you to grind experience points to eran them, but to fulfill certain conditions, preventing from simply killing over and over with that broken AI to get perks completely unrelated to the killing you're doing, unlike most games. And what's more, the requirement for them aren't that demanding most of the time, it requires finesse, but doesn't demand you to grind as much as some other games do, so it's a great feature, greatly implemented.There is also a shop, since money moves the world, and this game is not exception, and like perks, you don't have to grind that much to get what you need, but get ready to über grind to get what you want. Dying in free roam removes any weapon and grenades you have on you, so you'll be visiting the shop quite often, and once you purchased a weapon, you can get it for free, paying only for ammo, grenades, dynamite, and some upgrades, making the monetary situation quite balanced.
The hand to hand combat is fairly good, but it's only useful when you start a new game, after the first couple of missions, it will only get you a ticket to have an army upon you in seconds, which is a shame, because later on, you can only progress if you do bare hands stealth kills, that after a time, get a little bit tiresome, thank god it's not a QTE.
So, that's it for gameplay, while fun, it decided to play it safe, and never took a chance to see how could improve what's already on the market, which I think it kills its chance to shine above all of them.
Oh, no I didn't forget one of its more engaging elements in the game, I decided to put it in another section that fits better, and even though we can consider it part of the core gameplay mechanics, I think it belongs to...

Yes, the graphics to me it's the shining part of this game, while a bit unpolished for its time, it made a great job delivering context and somewhat sense in this open world adventure.
The game has two kind of areas, motivated and unmotivated areas, which could influence how many enemies, patrols, and response from enemies greatly.
The game pretty much starts with a black and white world, deprived of color, except for blood, Nazi symbols, and resistance symbols. Parts of the game world in black and white will have tighter security, tougher resistance and it easier to stand out. Being in a black and white part of the map will make harder for Sean to escape if he gets heat, easier to get heat to begin with, and will result in heavier resistance from enemies, and no aid from citizens, making it a good challenge, though it doesn't fix the broken AI previously mentioned. Whenever a portion of the map gets color, people feels more motivated to join the fight, and the response from enemies is reduced considerably.
Putting color back in the map is only made with campaign missions, you cannot free a portion of the city by free-roaming, so, there are places that will make your life hell, if you want to free-roam in a black and white area.
This looks like a simple gimmick, but it really makes the gameplay fun, you'll have to balance which targets to get to be able to clear a mission easier, but failing to keep a low profile can turn your game sour in seconds, and you haven't begun the mission yet.
Most approaches are fun on their own, and there's always room to experiment, especially on later stages of the game, where the heat meter increases fast, It's all up to the player judgement. And while there's pretty much a most effective way to play this, players can try their own stuff, making it fun, engaging and challenging.
If I had to state my own opinion on this, I like the black and white aesthetics more than full color, it gives a grim sensation without being pretentious. The contrasts of blood and Nazi and resistance symbols are great with that filter, so I wished to have the option to choose how I want to look at the world once the game's finished, but that's just me, the game's great as it is.

The sound department seems like a mix and match for some people. Needless to say, I have no complains on this matter. I loved the music, and I didn't care if it was anachronic, good music is good, that's it. The voice acting is a bit rough, yeah, but like the rest of the stuff, it wasn't made to deliver superb drama and complicated relationships tree,and in fact, I have to admit that I felt too invested with the characters, and came to like most of them, the father missions were really fun, and the dialogs with the chinese Scientist were sublime, but I can understand why some people didn't find the audio department in this game as memorable as I did.

I realized I mentioned too much the Broken AI of the game, I'm sorry, didn't mean to be a downer, I actually don't mind AI that much, but I'm sure most people would be turn off by it. I think this game failed to try to expand the bounds, its biggest sin was to play it too safe, and this came from a game that used Swasticas without a second thought, I expected gameplay to ve as bold.
In any case, if anyone of you haven't got the chance to play this game, I would strongly recommend it, it won't

change your life, you won't learn anything of value, but you'll be too busy having fun to even consider that.

As for my next Not-so-retroview, I'd like to ask you if you're interested in the following games I've been reviewing lately, for my next analysis. The games I've been playing are as follow:

Saints Row 2
I guess I could add Prototype, but i've been mostly killing time with it.
Persona 4 and Golden
Persona 3 FES
Odin's Sphere
Sly Cooper
Zombie Driver

Also, I'm open to suggestions if you have one, toddles!   read

7:41 PM on 11.16.2012

Splatterhouse 2010: A tale of hit and miss (and mostly miss)

Hello again, as promised, here's my talk about one of the first game I consider it deserves a more insightful analisys, Splatterhouse 2010 for Xbox 360 and PS3.
While I only played the PS3 version, I think they're pretty much identical, so there are no relevant differences, as far as I know. Here we go.

One thing that is somewhat a fad, but somehow never strikes as hard as game developers seems to expect, it's revivals.
There are a few exceptions, but even those who succeeded are really behind from other current games that are more relevant in the industry, like certain annual shooter, NFL roster upgrade and such. Any company that own a title worth of its weight back then, will probably find enough incentive to try a brand new start in this current gen, and so, things like Splatterhouse happens.

Before we fully dive-in, allow me to clarify this: I love the game, I love the series since I was a kid, and nothing will change that, still, it saddens me to accept that when it comes to sales, the game showed its worth, and that's undeniable.
Also, this analysis will come with spoilers, from the Original Splatterhouse and the new one, I guess you can avoid it, I don't know if spoilers have an expiration date as well, I mean, we all know the Titanic sunk, but somehow you always find people who burst in rage when you mention it, but I digress. Back on topic.

Splatterhouse was a series of thematic platformers (more on that later) featuring extreme violence, tetric music, and subtle references to the horror genre. Back in its days, I think that was most appealing to youngsters like us was the violence. This is pre Mortal Kombat era, back in a day when violence wasn't even a subject of discussion, and when parents didn't have internet to complain. Though I'm sure some of them did.
The original story features Rick Taylor and Jeniffer Willis, being caught in a rain, taking shelter in the wrong house. Rick being almost killed and Jeniffer taken to gods knows where.
Then a mask later called Terror Mask revives Rick and gives him the strength to fight monsters and save Jeniffer.

All of this was pretty much the little you could pick up from what the intro shows, and what the manual of the turbografx-16 explains. That's the first thing I believed could totally misfire for the reboot.
Nowadays, games can make really engaging stories, but sadly, most games from the pixels era didn't have elaborated stories, but more likely a reason to have the control in your hands, other than fun, and that's it. No complex relationships, no double-crosses, no web of intrigue. Just the reason to be there and the expectation of seeing it end.

And that's the first thing the game misses in my opinion, the game jumped into the "let's make a great story wagon" without thinking first how to keep the player engaged, not with it, but with the game. If story was a cake, gameplay is the spoon to eat it, and you can spend ages in making it great and tasty, but with the wrong spoon, it won't be as good. I'll come back to gameplay later, for now, let me talk about story for a bit more. Like I said, Splatterhouse used its story as a driven motive for the player to acknowledge the killing and the gore was justified.

The reboot, on the other hand, while respecting the knight in gory armor take from the original, added a lot of new stuff to fill blanks between the killing. I'm not very demanding of well written story when it comes to games, but it comes as a turn off when the world is in danger. I mean, people hasn't realized how big the world is? Is it possible to jeopardize all of it, but put it in the hands of one guy? I know that drama requires big stakes, but I feel you lose connection to a story when you see it's trying to embrace so much, and it cannot hold it for very long time.

That corrupted mumbo jambo wasn't necessarily bad, mind you, but the original felt more engaging without half the stuff the reboot tried to make you chew. Originally, the house wasn't going anywhere, it was in some sort of status quo until Rick and Jeniffer barged in. You never felt like the world was in peril whether they went to the house or not, and if Rick is killed, it was simply game over, you failed to save Jen, put another coin and try again. The game doesn't give you the need to feel like there was more to it than that. Did you ever think that if Jason Voorhees were to succeed in killing all those obnoxious teenagers in their thirties, he would take a plane and kill everyone else? No, then, why the West Mansion would have to represent a world wide threat with the price of oil and civil war going on out there?

I think the first misstep of the game is mostly is simply to bite more than it can chew, and unfortunately, it's not the only game that suffers from that, but somehow this game had to pay a far worse price than some others.

Now, let's talk about gameplay, and let me be clear with this: The original Splatterhouse(s) gameplay sucked reaaaally bad. Rick sprite was too big and easy to hit, the movement was clunky, and enemies had really cheap hits.
Still, it worked at the time, whoever wanted to play Splatterhouse was simply there for the gore fest, the animations with each weapon was priceless, and seeing the monsters being torn in half was really satisfying. It wasn't NES Ninja Gaiden, or Kage, that had smaller sprites and fluid action, but the feel of power you get from controlling Rick was rewarding on its own. In fact, Splatterhouse spinoff; Wanpakku Graffiti, had a small character sprite and far better control of Rick than any other canon version.
Before getting lost in the original gameplay, let's switch to the Reboot. Is the gameplay good? Hell yes, but it's rough as hell, unless you're a dying fan of the series, you'll find better action games in God of War, or Prince of Persia, the sands of time series, hell, even X-blades is a better action game, and before you chew me for that, I will talk about X-Blades in another moment, let me continue with Splatterhouse.
Like I was saying, the gameplay is rough, at first it doesn't explain much of its mechanics, and it's frustrating to no end, the enemies had ways to prevent you from landing a single hit for a good time, while draining your lifebar. Any newcomer is better starting a new game+ in order to feel what the core gameplay mechanics can really do. In fact I dare to say that you should start with everything and the more you progress, the more you abilities should be lost to make it really challenging, but there's no way a mechanic like that will ever see the light of day.
In any case, the game wastes a lot of chances to make the players feel like he controls Rick, I'm no friend of tutorial levels, but this game could use something like that. Even seasoned veterans of GoW might have a hard time with it.
Another thing we could compare is the population of enemies. Enemies in the first Splatterhouse were pretty much organized, they mostly came in turns, sometimes you find two or three coming at you to increase the challenge, but most of the times, it was pretty simple. The Reboot, decided to go big and you always are outnumbered, and Rick, with the previous flaws I mentioned, could manage them fairly fine; and while it appears like enemies are made of jelly, monsters in the original were as weak, most of them died with one hit, but now that you fight hordes of them, if feels less personal than before. There are enemies that represent somewhat a better challenge, and they're quite tough, you need to learn how to take them and once you do, you're up for a nice challenge. But most of the times they appear when there's a horde as well, so it's hard to be personal on that. I think this is more of a personal taste of mine, I don't mean to say this is wrong, or that they shouldn't, it's good as it is, I prefer something else.

So what? Well, it's true that gameplay in the first wasn't a shining example of action platformer, but it's really rewarding for experienced players. Enemies have fixed movements and positions, so once you play enough, you can pummel your way through with a bandage in your eyes.
On the other hand, the reboot suffers from the same issues even with a fully upgraded Rick. Enemies that rips your arms off instantly, forcing you to use that drain move in order to regen; enemies that gang on you and don't let you hit the ground, and lack of more wide attacks without having to consume your Necrobar.

The platforming is also a mess, originally, it was a little unforgiving, a single mistake could get you killed, but again, once you learn to play with that handicap, your pretty much confident enough to go on. The Reboot, tried to use many ideas, with no explanation, or truly a reason to be as frustrating as it ended up being. I'm sure this one specifically is more a consequence of the game being jumping between developers, and that shows. There are some platforming that seems to came from Uncharted games or Ninja Theory's Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. Those parts feel so out of place, I can't believe they green-lighted it unchanged.
Platforming in 3D is something really hard to achieve, and this game is proof of it, which makes me wonder why did they include platforming at all. I mean, you control a hulk like guy that moves like he weights a ton, I think that goes without saying that he is no Prince (of Persia) so precision platforming shouldn't even be mentioned in the development meeting. Sadly, it was.
What made it worse is those moments, the game rush you into moving as fast as possible, and while the jumping between shiny-grab-on-here objects is automatic, the game makes a wonderful work forgetting it and making your jumps simply miss and get ready to see the loading screen, oh, the loading screen.
Another thing that makes even more hard for me to love this game, is that they decided to add 2.5D platforming sections, and it's more like a 3D platforming section with a fixed cam, because the game doesn't change its physics for those moments, you just cannot run to the background, but the game still acts like a 3D game, so the jumping is awkward, falling into a pit is insta kill, and boy, do you fall in pits. I feel like I repeat a lot, but I cannot avoid it, remember what I said about the original and learning through memorization? This also affects here, no matter how good you get with the game, or how much you upgraded Rick, which by the way, has no upgrades that affects his movement, except for that roll thing, but it wasn't really useful in those sections, you will most likely fail due to awkward controls in a split second decision you have no time to correct or regret. It's loading screen time.

This could be solved in so many ways. My first choice is to remove any platforming, and leave the game to be the gore fest it tried to be, instead of something else. But let's be fair, and constructive.
Mario 64 does platforming quite well, hardly a split second jump decision, and plenty of jumping here and there if that's what you wanted. Sonic Adventures does that cinematic thing that could worked, even with a fridge for character, with games getting more into the cinematic, it wouldn't be weird to put scenes that ask you to run and jump non-stop while shit get serious in the background and getting closer to the player. You can make mistakes, enough to get the gist of it, without being insta kill for not jumping at the right time.
And it doesn't have to be quick time event; it would be more rewarding if the player learns on its own the timing for it, and successfully clears that jumping and running section, with a margin to screw up.

This is another thing that I cannot help but to think it could be a lot better. But, unlike before, I don't think it's bad either. I liked the music in the new Splatterhouse, and I can't deny it fits, but whoever heard it in game, tell me, doesn't it feels like you cannot memorize a track from it?
The original Splatterhouse had really good tracks, easy to remember, chilly, and completely tetric.
While I think it's a good idea to use Metal to give the game that grindhouse feeling it wants to give, I think this is another huge missed opportunity to put a trademark on the industry.
If we want grindhouse, I think that there are a couple of games out there that simulates that feeling just fine. But what made Splatterhouse unique was that tetric, chilly music that gives you goosebumps when you heard it. That feeling of I'm getting into something so uncanny, this music makes me want to flee, that was the core of iconic tunes like Halloween series and Friday the 13th as well, and Splatterhouse was no exception. Check out Splatterhouse - Part 2 Intro:

Now, when you see this intro, doesn't make you feel uneasy to know what's on the house? Doesn't that tune sticks to your memory and makes you remember right away where it's from? When you compare this track to the Metal soundtrack of the new one, makes the Reboot feel a bit underwhelmed, and really forgettable.

Now, it would be idiotic to say that we need this midi tune to make a next gen game better, and since you want to use Metal bands so bad, how about this?:

See? It wasn't that hard, now was it? But let's say you (NAMCO) are still insisting on using new tracks to promote the bands, which in return will promote the game, then, why not having an option to choose what soundtrack do you want to use? Games like Lollipop Chainsaw allows you to pick the music you want to listen in game, and you have some tracks to unlock via purchase, which adds replay value. Why not trying something like that? Or take this game ClaDun X2, the games lets you choose in the options menu if you want to listen to normal music, or midi versions. Why not enabling it like that?

Getting Metal bands to make your music was mostly a marketing decision I think, and I understand where that comes from, but unless you're into the Metal scene, you won't have the slightest idea who those bands are, so, again, they bet on the wrong horse if you ask me.

Well, it's a no brainer that there is no comparison between 2D sprites and fully 3D world, I love how Splatterhouse, the new one I mean, looks. Its pseudo shading filter looks far better than a realistic environment would look, so I'm more happy with the final result. I think that while it's not at the top of graphics, it made a good use of the aesthetics, and respects the source.
The creatures looks kinda messy, a bit, if you excuse my language, fucked up, and they're not scary, rather, they're repulsive. It's not a bad call, you cannot empathize with them, so you're less likely to have second thoughts when you rip them apart. I think I sort of disliked some of GoW finishers because I loved how the creatures look, they're well designed, somewhat good looking, and they look like creature like us, sentient and living. Splatterhouse on the other hand, they look so messed up, you feel you're doing them a favor by killing them, so it's no biggie.
Bosses are great, I liked them all, and while no one seemed to represent the original bosses from the Original Splatterhouse, they look great, and gameplay wise, the fight are far better than pummeling hordes of messed up creatures. When it comes to bosses, now more than ever you want to break them up. So I think overall this part was really well made.

Now, could it be improved? I guess, there's always room to improve, but I don't think it deserves as much attention as the other subjects I mentioned deserved.

Now, I'll go into the story a bit more, this time:

No need to repeat myself, right? The story was adapted in order to last more that the hour or so it could take you to finish the original game, and thank god the main motive for rick to be there is still the same, to save Jeniffer.
Now, originally, while they were Parapsychology students (I want to major that, oh yeah), they had no connection to Dr West, in fact, it is unknown if West appears in the original one. Most people believe is that ghostly head that appears in the end after you defeat the final boss, but in any case, West never have direct interaction with Rick and Jen, making him some sort of unwilling antagonist at best. The new one, he couldn't have anymore screentime, being a bad imitator of Dick Dastardly. I guess it's okay as a villain though, it's better than an unknown, faceless force like before, and helps develop a Hero-Villain relationship.
What I liked the most of Dr. West, is that he pretty is much the same as Rick, a man that would stop at nothing to save his wife, who casually resembles Jen, and well, the antagonist isn't one-sided, as Rick is the one who killed his wife Leonora in the past, as part of the needlessly complex script this game has. So, Rick wants to save Jen and to do so, he needs to get rid of West, while West hates Rick and the Terror Mask because they killed Leonora, which they wouldn't if West didn't took Jen, who wouldn't take Jen if Rick and the Mask didn't kill Leonora and on... and on... and on.
It's a mess, I know that you cannot play with time and come out unscratched, but this game got seriously confused, and like I said, needlessly. Now, let's be fair, the game could do seriously worse, and luckily, it's not that bad. In the Original, like I said, rescuing Jen was mostly a driver for the player in order to play, why save her, or why was she taken, was not relevant. Now, the game demands a reason, and I must say, there aren't much options for this, so I guess we can roll with it.
Now, a big, I repeat A BIG chance was lost with Jeniffer. In the original Splatterhouse, you find her before the game ends, and when she gets up, she transform in a horrible monster that will attack the player with no mercy, leaving no option but to defeat her, while she sometimes ask your help.
Back in 1988, this probably was a huge "OMG" moment. I played the first after playing the 2nd and 3rd, so most of the impact was lost, but even so, imagine this, the person you have to rescue is now your enemy and there's no other choice but to kill or die.
There were rumors for a time that she wasn't the real Jen and the real one was trapped somewhere else. But the Japanese version of Splatterhouse 2, explains that she certainly died, and her soul is trapped in the house, so she can still be saved, which also serves to the purpose of... the house I guess, in any case, you killed her in the first game.
Imagine that in the Reboot, or put yourself into Rick shoes for a moment, right there. The only person that makes your world worth every single thing, is a monster that you cannot save. was she worth killing if it mean everything to you? What was the point of killing her and going on afterwards?
I think this is what, as a fan, I cannot ignore. One of the most important twists in the history of games, pre Kojima, and it wasn't pretentious, it was bold and well executed.

And they didn't included this change in the Reboot.

Alright, I know that a Reboot require some changes in order to adapt to new technologies and the new blood, but not facing Jeniffer monster and killing her with your own controller was by far the biggest opportunity lost, and that crappy evil smile at the end didn't cover it.

Now, like I said, this game was rather than bad, a series of missed opportunities to shine, ending with underwhelming sales, the closure of the developer, and probably we won't have a sequel at all, so regardless of personal feelings towards it, I think we cannot deny the failure of this game.
Most of the issues the game had was caused by today's state of affair with the industry. Games are getting more expensive to develop, and sales aren't as good as before. Consumers will always get on retail their shooters and their roster update, but games like this belongs in the offer bin.

I personally love it, with all the criticism I made, I still say with pride that I love it, they included the first three Splatterhouse games for free, if it were another Game Company, we would be paying 5 bucks each on our console store, but we got them for free. The nude pictures was a bit uncalled, but was another positive step, and not for the reasons any male would agree, but because M games are M simply for violence and language, and games always had a awkward way to face nudity, while we can still have a stupid uncalled sex scene on any over the top action flick. So it was a positive step, even if it wasn't your thing. GoW was another one that kinda takes this for granted, and I complimented that on a lot of gaming talks I had.
The violence... well, it's violence, doesn't come in many envelops, so you know what you'll find. Maybe another thing this game suffered is that it took too long to come out. This game should have appeared before Devil May Cry, or not long after, and it would probably would have left a better impression on younger generations. I mean, nowadays, seeing a monster explode is pretty much part of our daily routine, so if this was the only thing that made Splatterhouse a name before, it should have returned when Violence wasn't in every bloody game like chocolate sprinkles.

But, backtracking this blog a little, revivals have a hard time, times changed, and it's hard to be relevant unless you never left, like Mario.
Most thematic platformers had to accept they died, find a way to reinvent themselves, or stick to formula and be forgotten.
I refer to thematic platformer to games that joined the platformer band wagon and took their own take on it. Games like Sonic, Bubsy, and Rocket Knight Adventures are mascot Platformers, Mario should belong there, but I'm not entirely sure, I know it pretty much started it, but I don't know if it was its purpose. I think it wasn't until Sonic, that everyone felt like making their own Mascot Platformer. Contra is an Action Platformer, a game based on frenzy action and shooting, with platfoming. Castlevania was a horror platformer, like Splatterhouse, but not because it was scary, but because it uses Horror film references and aesthetics in it. And there are a bunch more of platformers with their own theme in it, but are mainly platformers because that was what sold back then, it's like making an FPS today out of an old RTS... oh, wait.

Well, I guess this industry somehow remains the same while changing.

And as a final word, Splatterhouse was a victim of the current industry, plus its own weight, and some bad decisions made at some key points. I can only wish for a sequel, I would be more than eager to "not-so-retroview-it"

By the way, this ended being longer than I thought, so I'm more than open to suggestions on what I can remove, I know I repeat myself a lot, and like I said, being English my secondary language, it's hard for me to realize when I become too redundant. I hope you enjoyed the reading.

Toodles! - Earthfield.   read

10:37 PM on 11.14.2012

Introduction Blog

Hello there, as much as I try to refrain from it, I cannot avoid an introduction for my future blogs. I think it could help understand what to expect, or not from now on, from me.

As I think everyone in here, I love videogames, and I love analyzing them as well, from outside the code. I was thinking of making reviews for a while, but thing is, I live outside US, or any important country for the industry, that means, I get a game at best 1 month later than release, making any review a bit out of time. Retroviews are also outside the question, with the AVGN and the HVGN making a great work with it, and so many other chaps, it's impossible.

So I rejected those ideas. . Instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose...

Not so Retroviews.

What is a Not so Retroview? I know the name is obvious, but I'm trying to make a point, lads. Thing is, when does a game become Retro? Is there an expiration date for it? Where do we draw the line? If you were to ask me in the PSX era, I would reply "That's obvious, games from the NES era and before." Today, I guess I'll say "That's obvious, games from the PSX era and before." So, where's the line exactly? When the console no longers produces anything? Who can truly define a line?

If Mario 64, which was a 3D Platformer is today Retro, what is NSMB Wii that is a 2.5D platformer?
I know That time is what most certainly define them of Retro and non retro, but when analyzing the source, doesn't this case feels a bit backwards? I hope we can discuss this in the future.

In any case, to avoid any mess with this, I decided to make analysis from games that might not be that old, but they're not relevant today either, and to avoid any kind of Fanboy accusation, I'll tell you all the platforms I own, to understand what I limited to when it comes to reviews. Buying my own games puts the budget issue at play so you'll have to excuse me if your platform of choice is not in my list of games I'll analyze. Though this may be able to change, so nothing is definitive:

SEGA Saturn
SEGA Genesis
Nintendo DSI
Nintendo Wii

Those are my guns for now, so I will be limited to those for the time being. I will find games that I enjoyed, but weren't as successful as I would have hoped for.
Also, it is worth mentioning that I don't speak english natively, so you probably find lot of mistakes, I try to look out for them myself, and I appreciate being corrected, just don't get grammar nazi on me, it doesn't help, I learned english from music and movies, and an Irish friend I had, so my english is a mess by default. Bear with it.

To get this to a closure, I will tell you now that the first analysis I want to write is about Splatterhouse 2010. I think that game had a lot of hit and miss I'd like to discuss, so I'm eager to talk about it. Now that my introduction has been made, I think I'm more than ready to start this one out.

Anyway, to sum it up, it is my pleasure to be here, and I hope you find my future updates of your enjoyment.


BTW: I also find ironic that I'm using the 360 achievements when I don't own one.   read

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