By Sam Graham
Long before horror games became all about people on Youtube putting on annoying voices, narrating bollocks, over-exaggerated screams - when the real thing they're screaming at is the knowledge that if they don't scream louder or pull their biggest Salvador Dali's Clock face then they'll have to get a real job - and generally being shit at the games they're playing, they were about having fun.
Splatterhouse 2, the sequel to - do I even have to tell you? You can probably guess - Splatterhouse 1 for the Sega Megadrive/Genesis, is basically a 16-bit Stuart Gordon film. It’s gory, camp, and completely unashamed of itself. It's that guy who hangs out near schools on Halloween as zombie Jimmy Savile. Amidst a slew of animal mascots jumping over things, Splatterhouse 2 was horror for kids, more brazen than anything R.L Stine was putting out at the time.
Simple premise: Rick, a man in a mask (not Jason though. Definitely not Jason. Don't want to get sued) punches the shit out of everything on his quest to save his missus from a haunted house. There is more to it, but everything else is pretty much secondary, like the plot in a porno: once you've got to the fucking, who cares about anything else? Like its movie counterparts, nobody played Splatterhouse for its award-winning plot anyway.
The game starts up with some eerie music and you walk to the right, punching skinned monsters in half, then punch a globular demon until its guts rupture, then stave in some demon's heads with a stick, then a face comes out of the wall, so you punch it in the eyes until they burst. It basically goes like that. This game has no pretence about what it is. It knows it is trash and it celebrates the fact. Grindhouse goodness. Gore = fun. Amidst the punching monsters in half with Rick's supremely muscular arms, chuck in a couple of jumping bits and you've got Mario on steroids. There's demon fish and foetus' hanging by their necks that mewl when you punch them in the stomach, it doesn't give a shit. It's a wonder it never got banned, though this came out in a time long before people were offended by stupid shit like Tracer from Overwatch having an arse, just like the ones those no-life SJW's spend so much time sitting on.
Of course that's how it looks anyways.
Reality is, it's like those ghost trains that look great from outside, but once you've handed over that non-refundable three quid, you're subjected to sitting in the dark while objects of dubious girth and stench wipe across your face. And by that crap metaphor I mean that the game is hard as nails. Not because of fair challenge, but because Rick takes up so much of the god damn screen you barely have any reaction time. As well as looking like he's shit his man-nappy, he jumps and moves like it's leaked out down his inside leg. Because he's so enormous and slow, Rick can only successfully dodge two things in the whole game: Jack and shit. Some enemies jump over your head, but more often than not they end up clipping you and you lose another hit point. And those fuckers don't come cheap. There aren't any to pick up, and you only get awarded them for your score (that's how old this game is. People still played for the high score). 4 Hits and that's your lot. Honestly, worse reaction time than a blind woman at a bukkake.
Most of the enemies only take the one hit, and the majority of the levels are the standard 'just go right' variety, which is a relief, but good luck on any level set in a lift, because there's no room to manoeuvre. Enemies drop in from the ceiling and then jump over you right as you go to introduce them to Rick's pixelated fist.
This game's main selling-point has to be in its art style. The music has that 80's horror vibe to it, and the scenery look like a cross between Friday The 13th and From Beyond. It’s bright and colourful and while it requires some imagination (because the blood is made up of little squares), it celebrates the gore and the cheese from the days of practical effects monster horror. It's only Rick's stiff control that lets the game down, and by god does it. It could have been perfect. Instead it's the equivalent of taking the first bite of a delicious looking burrito, only to find out it's actually the baby from Eraserhead.