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Title: Splatterhouse 3
Rom Player: KGEN 98
Reviewer: Dr. Boogie

Synopsis: In this, the final chapter (so far) of the Splatterhouse series, Rick has to don the Terror Mask once again to beat the stuffing out of some of the nastiest monsters I’ve ever seen. The plot for this round is that some time after rescuing his girlfriend, Jennifer, from the mansion where the whole portal-to-an-evil-dimension thing took place, they settle down and have a son, named David in case you were wondering. The rest of the details are sketchy, but at some point, a magical jewel known as the Dark Stone comes into play. Then, through unknown circumstances, evil monsters establish base camp in Rick’s very large mansion. The only difference is that this time, a monster so evil that he is known simply as “The Evil One” leads them. His goal is to obtain the Dark Stone and unleash its not-so-nice powers so that he can take over the world. Now, I don’t know whether Rick was out shopping or what, but the game starts out with him walking through the front door, ready to kick ass and save his family.

The thing that separates this installment from the previous two is that rather than being an extremely difficult platform game, this one is a side-scrolling fighting game. Thus, no more irritating restarts because brushing against the enemy causes you to take damage. Now, when you bump into them, you get to head butt ‘em! I only wish that they had kept the slide attack so that you’d have some kind of running move. As you progress through the levels, you’ll be presented with still-picture cinematics that explain what’s going on, and show the Terror Mask as it gives you little bits of advice that, to a limited extent, further the plot, but mainly just show the mask as looking less like a goalie mask, and more like a prop from some B-movie.

Anyway, there are six levels total in the game. The first for are spent saving your wife and son, and the last two are spent getting rid of the bigger evils. Each level is divided into several rooms of various sizes and one boss room. After defeating all the monsters in one room, doors open and you are allowed to look at a map so you can plan the best way to get to the boss. It’s important that you get to the boss fairly quickly because you are given a time limit for each level. Now, you don’t die when the time reaches all zeroes, but things tend to go a little… sour, if you don’t get to and take out the boss before then. This takes the form of many things: The death (or worse…) of a family member, the unleashing of really naughty evil upon the world, etc. For extra flavor, some of the doors in the house are marked yellow, indicating that they warp you to a room elsewhere on the map. This can be good, because it often warps you to a room close to the boss, but getting to the right warp point often requires a slight detour from the quickest, most obvious path to the boss. Also, some rooms are devoid of monsters, but contain life and Eldritch Orbs, which I’ll get into later. Even better, some large rectangular rooms have no monsters, per se, but instead of other obstacles such as flying books and puddles that shoot out huge claws. That kind of room can be traversed quickly, but can cost some life.

Getting into powerups, you get these nifty little blue balls called Eldritch Orbs. These add a quarter to a power meter. Once you have even a little bit, you get to use a cool ability that took you two games to realize that you had: the ability to mutate!!! Upon doing this, the Mask fuses with your shoulders and really bulks you up, destroying your already torn shirt and allowing you to hit that much harder. Unfortunately, the effect only lasts until all the monsters in the room are killed, or until the bar empties out (The latter doesn’t happen to often too often.). The weirdest part is that after you go back to normal, your shirt also returns to normal. There are lots of those orbs, so don’t be too broken up. In addition to cool orbs and life bonuses, you also get some weapons on occasion, such as baseball bats, meat cleavers, cinderblocks, etc. They work fairly well, but if you leave them on the ground too long, a flying ghost head thingie swoops in and steals it.

The enemies are, in a word, disgusting. In this game, however, they begin to show battle damage as you beat them, from wounds as simple as a large gash to the monster’s head caving in completely. After a good beating, the monsters die and melt into nothing. The bosses, as in all the Splatterhouse games, raise the bar in regards to sheer ugliness, with the exception of the Evil One, who appears as an eight foot tall, faceless, blue-skinned Adonis. Among the more disturbing ones are a giggling monster that appears to be half frog, half lamprey, and a teddy bear with two huge arms that shoot out of its head.

The music maintains a certain air of creepiness during the cut scenes, but the in-game music is more like the action-oriented kind you hear in a side-scrolling fighter game. The sound effects are pretty good, limited mainly to roars by the monsters and grunts made by you (and the unnerving giggling of that one boss). All in all, this is a great game, even if you found the first two painfully difficult. The scariness of the cut scenes is sometimes broken by the occasional spelling error, but you’ll definitely be impressed by all the skull-crushing, emulsifying, wholesome killing.

Best Cheats: Stage X - If you beat a stage with at least three minutes left on the clock, you'll go to Stage X, where you'll get a couple extra lives after you beat them out of some monsters. After you beat the stage, the game will show a cinematic of Rick saying "....?" and the game will proceed to the next stage.

Spin kick - If you become surrounded by enemies, hit the jump and attack buttons together to knock 'em down with a quick spinning kick. This requires no life or power to do as normal Rick, but once you change into Mutant Rick, you shoot out some tentacles in leiu of a spinning kick, which does more damage, but takes off a small chunk of power.

Game Play: 8
Graphics: 9
Music/Sound: 8
Originality: 7
Overall Rating: 8

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