To conquer the TurboGrafx-16 means to beat every single game in its 94 HuCard library, but no game will capture as much attention in doing that as the console’s most famous one, Splatterhouse.
Splatterhouse is the most well-known game on the TG-16 because of how unique it was at the time. It’s a run-and-gun type game (run-and-slash?) that is less known for its technical acumen and more for the creepy horror mood that it provides. (And that includes the fact that many parts of the game were censored for North American audiences.) Your character, Rick, is forced to rush through a haunted mansion of sorts to rescue his girlfriend, Jennifer, from all sorts of horrible things. Most aren’t familiar with this story because your character wears a face mask (ala Jason Voorhees) and appears more a serial killer than doting boyfriend.
Horror aside, the reputation of this game is as an incredibly challenging one, but in reality the game is quite easy. You get 5 life bars and 4 lives to get through the mansion as well as 5 continues. Each continue will force you to start at the beginning of the level you were in, but the levels are so incredibly short it practically doesn’t matter. When I played this game 2 years ago, having not played it in the 15 years previous to that (and never having beaten it), I expected to die quickly and move on. Instead, I beat the game on my first playthrough.
Last night, after a two-year break, it took a few continues but I beat it in 40 minutes. After learning of a Twitch/networking glitch, I had to repeat the play, and beat it in under 27 minutes on just one continue.
The key to playing Splatterhouse is to play calm and identify when enemies should come to you or when you need to aggressively attack them. Each enemy has a clear pattern and if you can keep your focus off the creepy background elements, it’s easy enough to focus on the gameplay and win easily. There’s no mysterious tricks or weak points to beat any of the bosses…just hitting them anywhere will do. Only a couple of points in the game present a tough challenge.
After all these years, though, the game is so eminently replayable. No, there’s no secondary collecting goals to worry about, no alternate paths (there’s one point in the game where, yes, there is, but there’s no reasonable need to see them all). The game can be beat quickly, but it’s still fun to do it over and over again. The graphics hold up very well, looking as creepy as they always have, though the lack of animations is fairly noticeable now. (The last level features just two enemy types and there’s probably 3 frames of animation between them.)
Still, Splatterhouse will likely be the quickest game I’ll beat out of all 94 — and among the most fun!
Two games down. 92 to go! Up next will be Neutopia, the Zelda-clone of the system! If you’d like to keep track of my progress, follow me on Twitch.