Wednesday, 16 June 2010

The Worst Games I Ever Played: Splatterhouse

Somewhere out there, beyond the small suburban village of Springwood...past Camp Crystal Lake and just bearing west of Haddonfield, Illinois...there lies a strange, gothic mansion, on the borders between Copyrightinfringia and Fairuseland. It is here that two university students, Rick and Jennifer, take refuge from a storm. Here, is where the story of Splatterhouse begins.



As you can see, once inside the house, Jennifer disappears without explanation, and Rick (who appears to be wearing mental asylum gear anyway) lies unconscious on a pulsating sea of purple. Above him dances a mystic Mask of Fuckening (a Kabuki mask in the original Japanese version, a Voorheesian hockey mask in the US/European version), it then slaps itself onto his face Jim Carrey style. Instead of parading through a mildly amusing (although CG heavy) family comedy, however, Rick instead goes on a rampage of monster punching (not to be confused with Rampage, the game of punching monsters).

I played this game a lot, and I fucking hate it. These two, seemingly disparate things, can be blamed on one cause: I really wanted it to be good.

As a kid, I was big on horror movies. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday had yet to make its fair-to-middling way over to the rental shops in the UK, so the thought of playing a game in which you were essentially Jason Voorhees battering seven shades of shite out of a never ending parade of Clive Barker-esque demons sounded pretty awesome when I was eleven. Hell, make that a board game and I’ll play that now.

As those of you who have watched the above video clip now know, however, the game consisted of constantly walking to the right whilst slowly and unresponsively punching a conveyor belt of monsters in the face. Sure a lot of video games have that as their central premise, but Splatterhouse suffered because it was a) technically flawed (bad controls, graphic glitches, etc.), and b) it was such a wasted opportunity.

Splatterhouse was one of those things that your eleven year old brain looks at and just knows it’s going to be awesome. “Look at that!” your childish enthusiasm yells, “He’s got a fucking baseball bat and he’s fucking up a Bootleg Xenomorph! There’s no way that this can be bad! Jesus, I bet it’s fast, frantic and more gore loaded than Shogun Assassin!”.

It wasn’t fast. Rick creeps his way through the entire level at the Speed of Treacle. There’s no sense of impact when punching something, and the “thrill” of the curiously gelatinous gore wears off after the...ah, it wears off before the first time you see it.

Nevertheless, as a kid, I swore myself blind that the game was a good one. My stupid little brain wanted it to be so awesome that it simply refused to accept that it didn’t live up to the Voorheesian Utopia of Gaming that my brain wanted it to be. So, I kept playing it. It’s a bit like how you kept watching The Dreamstone, even though it was a fluffy piece of crap, because in your head you honestly believed that one day Zordrak was going to get down off of his throne, Balrog Up and slap the Noops into oblivion (not to be confused with The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion).

I wanted to believe that Rick was an awesome monster smashing machine, and not a pyjama wearing hockey goalie with ME. I wanted to believe that the gore genuinely was disgusting and OTT. I wanted to believe that splatterpunk was a viable genre, and not just a bunch of man-boys who harboured rape fantasies. I wanted to believe in this game so much, and I felt it let me down.

You know what the worst part is? The worst part is that I know that if I saw an arcade machine of any of the Splatterhouse games, I’d stick a couple of quid into it, hoping beyond all hope that it wasn't that bad. If I saw a Mega-Drive cartridge for one of them at a boot fair, I’d buy it, in the hope that I’d be able to actually enjoy it this time around. This is because, at the end of the day, I’m a big fucking moron.

You lied to me Splatterhouse. You lead me on! You made me believe you wanted to marry me! You did! It's true! You did! I'll hate you till I die! I can't think of anything bad enough to call you!

You know what would make this just fucking perfect? If they announced at some big video game tradeshow that they were making a new version of Splatterhouse. And they made it look fast, and gory and “Hella-Awesome”. That would probably make me crack a little hockey mask wearing boner, and buy a PS3. This is because in my big, dumb emotionally fourteen life, I still have faith in Splatterhouse.



Gruddammit.

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