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‘Splatterhouse’ Review – Visions of Gore From My Childhood

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Last week, we took a look at some new screens of Namco‘s iOS port of Splatterhouse [$2.99], the arcade side-scrolling brawler from 1989. Splatterhouse was notorious for being one of the edgier titles of the time, featuring plenty of gore and demonic undertones that are actually quite tame by today’s standards. Being a big fan of Splatterhouse in my younger years, I was pretty excited to hear that the game was coming to my favorite mobile platform, but two major concerns immediately popped into my head as well. First, I wondered if this would be an actual arcade port rather than the toned-down version that made its way to home consoles. Second, Splatterhouse was a ridiculously hard game even with the tactile feedback of joystick and buttons, so I wasn’t too sure how well that would translate to virtual touch screen controls.

With Splatterhouse now being available in the App Store, I finally have answers to those concerns. Thankfully, the game is indeed a port of the racier arcade version of the game. There are a couple very minor changes that I’ve noticed so far, but by and large this is the real deal that includes all the gore, weapons, and original death mask from Splatterhouse in the arcade. As for the controls, they are about as good as virtual controls can be, which isn’t saying much. Splatterhouse required some quick reactions in order to combat the many enemies approaching you from every angle. This is made infinitely harder with the lack of tactile feedback, and even worse since the virtual buttons aren’t always very responsive. It’s still playable, and worth putting up with because Splatterhouse is so awesome, but you’ll inevitably encounter a lot of frustration due to the controls.

In regards to the content and features, the iOS version of Splatterhouse really delivers. There is the full 7 stages of the arcade version, with three levels of difficulty to choose and the ability to start a new game from the beginning of any previously beaten level. An option to turn on “assistance” adds a third button (besides the jump and attack buttons) that allows you to perform a slide attack. This move is normally pulled off by jumping and hitting down+attack right when you land, which is nearly impossible with virtual buttons, and is still difficult to perform even with this added feature. The original screen aspect ratio is preserved in Splatterhouse, so there will be borders when you play, but there is the option of three different screen sizes and multiple choices for border wallpaper.

In addition to the arcade game, there is an exclusive mode to this version called Splatter Rush Mode. Here, you play on a special elongated level with a fixed zoom as baddies rush you from both sides of the screen. You’ll try to survive for two minutes killing everything that comes your way, with the ability to score chain combos by killing enemies in quick succession. At the end of two minutes, or if you die beforehand, your stats are tallied up and can be uploaded to Game Center for competing on the leaderboards. There are three difficulty levels of Splatter Rush Mode, each with their own unique environment and enemies taken from the arcade game. This mode is a ton of fun, and the virtual controls are less of an issue when playing in this mode.

This is a video from the actual arcade game, but gives you an idea of the gameplay in the iOS version as they’re nearly identical:

If you grew up a fan of Splatterhouse then this version is most likely worth the few dollars just for nostalgia alone. It’s a competent port though too, with no noticeable technical issues, and the new Splatter Rush Mode adds a nice new twist to the gameplay. If you can deal with the less than ideal controls then you’ll find yourself having a pretty good time with this version of Splatterhouse. However, if you’ve never played Splatterhouse before, I doubt this version will impress you. The 20 year old gameplay is pretty shallow, and the original difficulty is only compounded by the poor virtual controls. Personally, I’m pretty excited to have this classic in my pocket to play at any time, and many of our forum members feel the same.


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