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randombullseye avatar 5:34 PM on 10.08.2008  (server time)
Old School Games: Splatterhouse 2

As a kid a friend of mine would often bring over their sega games or VHS tapes for us to watch together. Among those things were many horror related things. A best of Ozzy Osbourne cassette tape, a VHS Army of Darkness, and a genesis game called Splatterhouse 2. Three great things from my friend. Makes me sad that he moved away, but besides introducing me to some of my favorite movies and music, he introduced me to the wonderfully silly Splatterhouse games as well.

The big appeal of this game is the look. Have you ever played a horror game where your character seemed more horrific and more of a monster than the undead hell creatures you battle? That's what Splatterhouse is all about. You're a muscle bound guy in overhauls with a skull mask. The mask looks very reminiscent of horror film character Jason. Now aside from the main character, every monster you fight has the most wonderful death animations. Slimy goo and gore flies out of most enemies. You can kick guys bodies in half and watch green slime shoot out. You can slap enemies into the background with weapons and watch them slime down walls. This is among greatest aesthetics a game has ever had.

Game play is similar to a beat em up, just without a Z-axis to move up and down on. Further evidence of that can be seen with beat em up genre staples such as the elevator levels, the simple control setup, and the way you use weapons to bash monsters. Just simple left or right movement. Two jump buttons. An attack button. Pick up a weapon and burst some enemies to pieces. In the first stage you can pick up a pipe weapon and when attacking your enemies they slam into the back wall and ooze down. I was close to ten when I first saw this and it still makes me giggle. Another level has a chainsaw and a boss encounter that must be played or seen to fully comprehend. Unfortunately, the game is unflinchingly difficult. You've four hearts to health and a few extra lives. Every hit seems to take off too many hearts and things take a little practice to get into. Luckily you've unlimited continues with three lives per continue. The final boss being the worst of these. Its a shame. Seeing as how much fun it is to beat a monster's face in the final boss is so cheap.

Splatterhouse 2 is actually unbeatable. Not really unbeatable, just the final boss has a (spoiler!) second form that moves too fast to hit. If you somehow make it to the last boss, good luck. No really. Good luck. The final boss flies around the screen and is only hittable for a brief moment of time. They take off a lot of damage with their hits and I can't defeat him. I of course did beat it, but admitting only with cheat codes. I can't do it without some playing field leveling cheat codes. Even then, that was a feat unto itself!

of course a speed run makes the final level and boss look easy.

Musically its what I would expect from a horror game. Lots of moody atmospheric organ music and genuinely creepy sounds. Splatter sound effects and grunts are included for most everything. Evil laughs and other sounds play throughout most levels as well. Also the chainsaw sounds just as wonderful as you would expect it to.

This game is fun, but I couldn't stay with it long today. A few tries on the first level before I got back into the swing of the game, filled with lots of me getting killed. Then a few attempts at the first boss. Then a few attempts at the elevator level. I made it all the way to the second boss battle before I quit. I'm probably going to throw in Splatterhouse 3 as soon as I'm done with this, but without two there would be no three and you can see a lot of the same concepts applied over there. Two seems to have more genuine violence and brutality. Also two has chainsaws and from what I remember of the third game: no chainsaws!

The Splatterhouse series is great IF you like hard video games, horror, and violence. You must like all three to fully appreciate the series, especially part two. The second game is hard just from a design aspect, but the third is a genuine challenge without being unfair to players. I already wrote about it and will eventually write about the first game. The series is released kind of weirdly, the first game was an arcade one that was ported to the TurboGrafix16. Then the next two were genesis games for some reason. To my knowledge only one other game exists in the series, a famicom disk system game that makes everything really cute looking but still with the horror theme. A new game was announced, but if you can only find one of these, I'd suggest the third. The second's fun, but its too unflinching with its difficulty. At the very least play up to the chainsaw level.

And of course, some box art. The American version's colors look faded out compared to the European version, but both are just as silly. The Japanese version is also worth taking a look at. Those two are in the gallery along with a few other screen shots.

American box art

Any of you guys play Splatterhouse 2?

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