Game: "Splatterhouse 3"
System: Sega Genesis
Published by: Namco
Reviewer: Dr. Boogie
Review: When it comes to horror games, Silent Hill and Resident Evil are ok, but for my money, there can be only one master of video game horror: Splatterhouse. The first two were a couple of hellacious platform affairs, but the third was a more accessible, and arguably more brutal, side-scrolling fighting game.
In what was, for the longest time, the final chapter of the Splatterhouse series, Rick has to don the Terror Mask once again to beat the stuffing out of some of the nastiest monsters you'll ever see. 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. 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 power so that he can take over the world. Rick, who was apparently running some errands when all this happened, starts out walking through the front door, ready to kick ass and save his family.
As much as I love the previous two games in the series, I don't miss the extremely limited health and constant death due to tiny, fast enemies. 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.
The game also gives you a little exposition in between levels. As you progress through the levels, you'll be presented with still-picture cinematics that explain what's going on. Therein, you'll see the Terror Mask as it gives you little bits of advice. You'll also see that the mask looks less like a goalie mask, and more like a prop from some B-movie.
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. Your son gets offed, your wife turns into a mindless monster (women, am I right guys?), 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 will piss you off all the same as you get tossed backward after getting hit by a flying book.
Powerups are pure and simple in this game. You either get life from realistic-looking hearts, or 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.
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 (though I'll take a cleaver over a cinderblock any day), but if you leave them on the ground too long, or if you get knocked down while carrying one, a flying ghost head thingie swoops in and steals it. All the stolen items wind up in another room in the level, but unless the room is already on the way to the boss, you're probably not going to want to stop by and retrieve that baseball bat when another cheap hit is just going to get it stolen again.
In the Splatterhouse tradition, the enemies are suitably grotesque. Plus, 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. And if the final blow is dealt with a weapon (again, excluding that crappy cinderblock), most of the enemies will suffer and gorier death!
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. Each tune, though, is memorable in its own right. The sound effects are pretty good, too, limited mainly to roars by the monsters and grunts made by you (and the unnerving giggle of that one boss). When Rick gets knocked down, he gives a kind of enthusiastic sigh, but the rest sounds great.
All in all, this is a great game, even if you found the first two painfully difficult. And the game even manages to keep a nice fright factor about it. The time limit and cutscenes add some great tension to each level. I mean, who wants to be responsible for this poor guy's wife and kid getting killed (or worse)?
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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