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Japanese Arcade Flyer for Splatterhouse.png

Splatterhouse (スプラッターハウス, Supurattāhausu) is a 1988 beat 'em up arcade game developed and published by Namco (now merged with Bandai as Namco Bandai Holdings). It is also subsequently the title of the entire series of games released in home consoles and personal computer formats.

Due to its violent nature as well as some questionable enemies, the TurboGrafx-16 port of Splatterhouse had a humorous "parental advisory warning" of sorts printed on the front of the box. This warning read as follows: "The horrifying theme of this game may be inappropriate for young children... and cowards."


Similar to many sidescrolling beat 'em up games, Rick can only move in a two-dimensional environment. The playing field does not feature a three-dimensional area, a feature that was added later in the series with Splatterhouse 3. He has the ability to jump and can punch and kick. Rick also has a Special Attack, where he will perform a drop kick that sends him skidding along the ground, damaging any enemies he hits. Rick can also perform a low kick, low punch, and jumping attacks, as well as pick up and use various weapons placed in the levels.

The TurboGrafx-16 cover
Splatterhouse is a sidescrolling beat 'em up video game in which the player controls Rick, a parapsychology student who is trapped inside West Mansion. After his resurrection by the Terror Mask, Rick makes his way through the mansion, fighting off hordes of creatures in a vain attempt to save Jennifer from a grisly fate. Players of this game will also recognize a number of western horror film influences, such as Friday the 13th and Evil Dead II.

All of the levels consist of walking left to right, with occasional auto-scrolling segments. However, alternative pathways through sections of the house are possible by falling down through holes or jumping up onto ladders. In this way, branching gameplay is possible, if only prevalent in the middle levels. Levels culminate in boss fights that take place in a single room. Unlike traditional side-scrolling fighters, boss fights have varying objectives and styles.


Rick and Jenny escape the storm (PC Engine artwork).
While Rick and Jennifer are alone in the woods, a violent storm suddenly broke out. The couple seek shelter in an inconspicuous mansion. Jennifer's shrieks are heard as Rick blacks out. A strange mask comes to Rick's fallen form and goes on Rick's face, apparently giving him the strength to continue. He awakens in a dungeon of the house's lower level with a strange mask. Rick goes on a rampage through the dungeon and the mansion grounds, killing hordes of monsters. Inside the mansion, Rick finds Jennifer, prone on a couch and surrounded by a throng of creatures that retreat upon his arrival. After their departure, Jennifer is pleased to see Rick but suddenly transforms into a giant, fanged monster that attempts to kill Rick while occasionally regressing to her human form, whimpering and begging him for help. Rick defeats Jennifer, who transforms back into her normal self and thanks him before her body disintegrates.

Infuriated, Rick tracks the remaining monsters to a giant, bloody hole in the mansion's floor. Upon entering it, Rick discovers that the mansion itself is alive. He follows a bloody hallway, the house's "womb", which is producing fetus-like monsters that attack him. Rick destroys the womb, which causes the house to set ablaze as it "dies." Escaping the burning mansion, Rick comes across a grave marker. For an unknown reason, the mask releases energy into the grave, summoning a giant monster that claws its way up from the earth and attempts to kill Rick. Rick destroys the creature, which unleashes a tormented ghost that dissipates into a series of bright lights. Rick flees as the house burns to the ground behind him. The mask explodes from Rick's face as he stands in shock and awe. However, after the credits, the pieces of the mask reassemble themselves and it laughs.

The 1990 home port expanded the background beyond what the Arcade version provided. In the instruction manual, Rick and Jennifer are given last names, and are identified as two local university students studying parapsychology. The titular "Splatterhouse" is called the West Mansion, the residence of a brilliant Dr. West, who was rumored to have some secret experiments before his mysterious death. Since he was a world-renowned authority of the field, Rick and Jennifer traveled to West Mansion for research. Rick's mask is said to be a legendary ancient artifact which contains a sentient spirit that grants the user supernatural powers, and was also given a name (which was kept for the immediate sequels). Most elements of the new backstory were reused for the 2010 Splatterhouse. The game content is mostly identical in terms of story progression, except the intro is truncated and does not show Rick and Jennifer entering the mansion or the mask coming to Rick. The ending is also slightly different, in which the mask does not reassemble.

Comic Advertisement

An old comic styled avertisement for the TurboGrafx-16 port.

Sometime before it was released, a mini-comic advertisement for the Turbo-Grafix port of Splatterhouse was released. It showed Jenny and Rick walking up the West Mansion, the attack, and Rick waking up with the Terror Mask on his face. This comic showed the some of the earliest examples of Rick with hair and Jenny being blonde. As a side note, Rick is seen holding a lead pipe, despite it never appearing in the game.

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