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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Halloween Horror Review: Splatterhouse 3 for Genesis


Splatterhouse 3 actually gets pretty high marks for its story, since it’s one of the few beatemups I’ve played where I became invested in the character’s and their endeavor.  This surprised me because the story is very simple and the cutscenes are extremely brief, but this game can supply some real tension for a player.  You play as Rick, who has been awoken by an ancient mask to find your mansion transformed into a hellish nightmare, full of mutated monsters.  Together with the mask, you must battle your way through enemies in order to save your wife Jennifer and son David, as well as defeat the evil lurking in the night.  Any B-movie horror fans will most likely find themselves enjoying the story, but what really makes Splatterhouse 3 unique is that it’s a beatemup with multiple paths.  If you don’t save someone, the game doesn’t end, but the story changes accordingly.


Splatterhouse 3 features several moves/combos for your character, each varying in damage.  You have your basic punch, grapple, throw, and jump kick.  When grappling you can headbutt your opponent by pressing punch, jab them in the gut by pressing down and punch, or do a “megaton driver” by pressing down and the special transformation button.  When you simply press the special button, you transform into a bigger, stronger, and slower version of Rick, known as Mutant Rick, until you run out of your power meter.  While Mutant Rick, you can press back, forward, back, punch, to thrust your guts at enemies, giving the illusion of multiple appendages.   More useful yet, as standard Rick, by pressing back, forward, punch in quick succession, you can perform a spin kick which knocks enemies away and does massive damage.  This is arguably the most useful moves in the game, and is nearly essential for clearing some stages within their time constraints.

The stages are made up of non-linear paths.  There are many different paths and rooms to explore, but in order to save everyone; you must complete the stages within a set time limit.  There is a built in map function to prevent you from getting lost, which you can check upon clearing any room of enemies.  Occasionally, while wandering the level you experience cutscenes showing the dangers approaching those you are trying to save.  Depending on how you traverse the stages, you can find lots of powerups, such as orbs to fill your special meter, health replenishing meat, and extra life bibles.  There are also a few weapons, including bricks, bats, and knifes scattered around the stages, which can be extremely useful but they are few and far between.  Collecting these items can make the stages much easier, but costs valuable time and will likely prevent you from saving anyone.  Also, if you manage to beat a stage very quickly, you are transported to the elusive Stage X before the next stage, which is filled with fat zombies who love dropping extra lives.


The graphics in Splatterhouse 3 are quite good.  There are large, colorful sprites, tons of details in both characters and background, and great animations.  However, the Splatterhouse franchise is really known for gore, and Splatterhouse 3 delivers.  Each enemy has “stages” they go through as you pummel them.  Essentially, their face splits open into a bloodier and gorier mess as you attack them, and occasionally, you can demolish an enemy’s face with a bat and get a satisfying “splat” sound effect.  If you like slashers films, or are a gore hound, then you will appreciate the animations and graphics in Splatterhouse.  If you’re not, then you will still experience a great-looking game with atmospheric backgrounds and effects.  It’s not the gore that makes Splatterhouse 3’s graphics good, but the gore does enhance them and gives the game its style.


Aside from the aforementioned satisfying splat noises which accompany gory face busting, Splatterhouse 3 features intense music tracks in each stage which play as you fight through enemies in any given room but lulls to an eerie tune after you defeat the enemies and tend to your map.  All of the music works very well and each tune manages to be both creepy and exhilarating.  There’s also unique music for the various boss battles.  The enemies also have various grunts and other sounds which work well, and sound effects help to make Rick and the enemies various blows feel solid.  I would venture to say the soundtrack for Splatterhouse 3 is one of the best horror game soundtracks I’ve ever experienced, including current generation games.  There’s a ton of variety, and every song ties in nicely to the overall mood of the game.

Splatterhouse 3 did a lot of things other beatemups hadn’t done at the time, and did them extraordinarily well.  From the non-linear gameplay, to the multiple story paths, to the perfect blend of horror elements any horror fan can appreciate, it’s a game which genuinely feels quite a bit ahead of its time, despite being in a genre most gamers tend to associate with the 16-bit era.  It has quickly risen to one of my favorite beatemups, one of my favorite Genesis games, and one of my favorite horror games and I know I’ll keep coming back to it time and time again.

1 comment:

  1. Great review! I also enjoyed sp2, that game also had a great soundtrack!