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Splatterhouse, Review Travesty of Decade? April 21, 2011

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.

At the end of last year, a remake of the cult classic game series Splatterhouse was released for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.  It received scores ranging from below average to abysmal and these reviews generated a lot of negative press for the game.

For those of you unfamiliar or unaware of the history of the famous video game series Splatterhouse, let me forward you to some very insightful history courtesy of Derek Alexander, who calls himself The Happy Video Game Nerd.

He even did this cool little video about the differences between the classic arcade version and the Turbo Grafx 16 CD version of the game, the only home console port of the game released in the US.

Like most people, I was faintly aware of the game series from its history as an arcade game.  After I inquired, some of my peers were also familiar with the sequels of the game released to the Sega Genesis.

I started catching tidbits about this game back when promotion was being done for it while it was in development.  When it was released, I remembered watching Yatzee’s review of it (and his standards are higher than a kite for what is considered good) and that was pretty much all I saw of it at release.  Because I was pretty broke after buying a dozen collector’s editions over that year, and I hadn’t heard much about Splatterhouse after it came out, I didn’t give it a second thought.

But then I started to see reviews of the game from people other than mainstream reviewers, and they were painting a much different picture of Splatterhouse than what the reviewers were.  Here’s the HVGN’s take on the new game.  My apologies for constantly referring to him in this article, but his videos were what brought this to my attention and I think he deserves a lot of credit, and his opinions about the game are shared by many players.

Then I read THIS article at the West Mansion (post dated 1/14/2011, sorry it doesn’t have a dedicated page yet), considered by many to be the biggest Splatterhouse fansite on the web.  You guys may think I’m controversial whenever I post something, take a gander at what the webmaster of that site had to say.  The short of it is, he was pretty sure the reviews were unfavorable because Namco decided to pull advertising for the game from sites just before release.  He figured, without ad revenue to warm reviewer’s stomachs the review sites had no reason to be generous to the game and they universally destroyed it.  So even though the game was fun to play, the review scores were abysmal, the bugs were exaggerated and hopes of sales of the game were destroyed.

But he had some evidence to back up his claims.  According to actual people who played the game, the review scores (and comments) about Splatterhouse were completely unmerited at best or outright wrong at the worst.

Now there are games out there that I personally enjoy which are not by a lot of means perfect, but they’re still a ton of fun to play.  The typical term for these kinds of games are usually unpolished gems that just need a little love.  They’re games that despite the flaws that a little more development time could’ve fixed were still really enjoyable.  A personal example I would consider fitting that description would be Troika’s 2004 swan song Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines.  That is a game that despite its performance issues, control bugs, memory leaks and cliffhanger endings, I happily play each and every summer because it’s still enjoyable to play, and fans have done everything they can to fix and modify the game to give it the polish that Troika never could.

Of course there is always the inverse of that, the game that is bad no matter how much polish it did or didn’t get.  Alone in the Dark (2008), was that kind of game.  It did receive abysmal scores across the board and I can tell you personally looking back on my playthroughs of the game, they were merited.  The bugs and glitches HINDERED the game being fun, instead turning completing it into a chore (making the scene skip menu, something that I normally would never consider using, SERIOUSLY tempting to use through the whole game).  The claim that it just needed some extra time for polish was quickly tossed as the one version of the game that got the extra six months of polish the game reviews thought the game needed (The PS3 version) was still an awful buggy mess, only it was now a little bit easier.

So these guys looked like they had fun playing the game, and the low scores from the reviewers was looking more like there was a fix in place.  The major tell to this was that some of the glaring problems reviewers had with the game, particularly framerate issues, were not actually in the game.

In all, the webmaster of the West Mansion, the BIGGEST Splatterhouse website on the internet for the past 10 years, has announced he will retire in two months but there’s a mention that someone else will pick up the site after he leaves.  Namco has shut down the American development house that made it, making seeing any further games highly unlikely.

It’s kind of reasons like this that have made me hesitant to start doing full reviews for games on this site (micro-reviews for odds and ends are different, but I still haven’t officially reviewed a full game on this site yet, although I have been considering it for some time).  I believe that a game should be fun above all else, and I am able to overlook issues I’m having with the game if I’m enjoying the game regardless.  The real tell for me is if I’m able to REPLAY the game repeatedly even with all these issues.  I also will take price into account since no one has ever sent me a video game for free (and I don’t expect them to).  I just haven’t been comfortable enough to do a full review (video or written), since some people who visit this site think I’m opinionated enough as it is.  However, if someone wants to send me a new game with the hopes that I’d review it, I would be more than happy to oblige them.

I’m writing this all to tell you all in general, don’t put 100 percent faith in the review system.  If you’ve waited years to play a game that has gotten bad reviews, don’t let that deter you from picking it up and forming your own opinion about it.  Don’t let some paid intern who gets tons of free swag sitting behind a computer all day tell you how you should feel about a game you’ve never played.

So the question stands right now, is the game as bad as the reviewers say?  Well, my copy is coming this weekend, and I’ll be able to see for myself.


1. Webmaster of Biggest Splatterhouse Site on Web Steps Down « gameXcess.net – Gaming News, Videos and Editorials! - June 25, 2011

[…] Well…we know what happened then, I’ve talked about it in the past.  After playing the new game myself I can assure everyone that the reviews of it were wrong, and while it was not perfect it was quite a fun experience.  This horrible trend of game reviewers not knowing a good game if it bit them on the ass and overrating games that were nothing special is something I don’t hope will continue, but you just have to look at the recent media fallout of Duke Nukem Forever to see the tumblers for that lock continue to fall into place. […]

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