game Cover
game HuCard
©1988 1990 Namco Ltd.
Release : 1990-04-03 (¥6800)
HuCard (4 Mbits) NC90002
Action / Platform game

American Version
Released in America as
( TGX040041 )
Splatterhouse is a side-scrolling horror themed action game developed by Namco, and conversion of the arcade game of the same name originally released in 1988. It stars two young scientists interested in paranormal phenomenons, Rick Taylor and Jennifer Wills, who one day decide to investigate a strange old mansion that that has been known to harbor many terrifying secrets. The gloomy house, named the 'Splatterhouse' by the locals, is owned by Dr West, a renowned scientist rumored to conduct bizarre and gruesome experiments. One night, as they arrive at the mysterious mansion, a storm starts raging and they are forced to take shelter inside the dark place. They both come under attack and Rick falls unconscious. When he regains consciousness, he discovers that Jennifer is gone, and that a creepy mask with supernatural powers (the "Hell Mask") now covers his face. His body has also mutated into that of a repulsive, and yet tremendously powerful, burly creature. Rick must now explore the mansion and find his beloved Jennifer - but hordes of murky deadmen, impaled zombies, flesh eating worms and other nightmarish and grotesque creatures are now on the loose everywhere. Rick can punch with his bear fists and kick (low, jump kicks and slide kicks), and can also pick up weapons scattered throughout the game, such as a planks of wood (the 'two by four'), spears, a lethal meat cleaver or a shotgun. More than just enemies, the game also throws disguised booby traps and ominous obstacles at the player, such as sharp blades, spikes, bottomless pits and other lethal dangers. Splatterhouse consists of seven levels, and some stages even branch out (through holes in the ground or ladders) and allow the player to take alternate routes.
SplatterhouseWanpakuGraffiti (Fc)
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Aplatterhouse - arcade The arcade game Splatterhouse was originally released in 1988 (picture on the right). Although the game was a beat'em up at heart, its gory theme was really what set it apart from other games at the time. The game was later converted to the PC Engine (1990), FM Towns (1992), PC (2003) and even a LCD game was released in 1988. As a side note, the first Splatterhouse that Namco developed for home consoles was not a straight conversion of the original arcade game, but rather a parody - the cute Splatterhouse Wanpaku Graffiti was released for the Famicom system in 1989, and was most certainly designed to appeal to a younger audience. Two sequels to the original arcade game were later exclusively released for the Sega Megadrive - Splatterhouse Part 2 (1992) and Splatterhouse Part 3 (1993). These two megadrive games are interesting, in particular, because they reveal the evolution of the demonic Hell Mask (also known as the "Terror Mask" in the west). It looks like there has always been fears regarding copyright issues between Splatterhouse and Friday the 13th, and although first versions of the Hell Mask definitively look like Jason Voorhees's classic hockey mask, Japanese early releases didn't change its design. This wasn't the case for western releases, where the mask was edited to look more like a deformed human skull (Splatterhouse 2). This design was later used in Splatterhouse 3, both for the Japanese and Western releases. Finally, the franchise then laid dormant for several years - the latest installment was the awfully average and messy beat'm up Splatterhouse released for the Playstation 3 in 2010, which desperately attempted to revive the excellent series, but miserably failed at it.

There are some differences between the original arcade game and this PC Engine conversion. First of all, the introduction sequence was dramatically reduced and only features the exterior view of the mansion (we don't see Jennifer and Kirk running through the rain, or the Hell Mark taking over the hero's body and soul). The in-between level screens are also different - although the arcade game shows a picture from the coming stage, the PC Engine port shows one of the creature the player Splatterhouse - American version will eventually fight there. Interestingly, the gore factor was also toned down a little - for instance, the first level features prison cells in the background and mutilated human bodies which were completely removed from the PC Engine port. Weapons have also be shuffled around, for instance although Rick first picks a meat cleaver in the arcade version, the PC Engine port features a wooden plank, and the cleaver only appears once in the chapel stage (and was curiously turned into a Golden Cleaver). Finally, the American Turbografx-16 was edited further and in different ways - the most notable is the Hell mask, which was changed from the original white to a darker red (probably to avoid copyright issues with the Friday the 13th franchise, picture on the left). Because of this change, the mirror-image enemies found in level Level 4 wear blue masks instead of grey masks. Other TG16 changes include material containing any religious references... In stage 4, the antichrist boss (the inverted cross) was replaced by a blue grinning demon head, and the altar at the end of the same level was completely removed (only four 'floating' candles are now visible). Finally, the cross planted in the ground at the end of stage 7 was replaced by a tombstone. As a side note, the Turbografx-16 version also had a parental warning message printed on the game's cover which said "The horrifying theme of this game may be inappropriate for young children... and cowards." - it is hard to tell if this was a serious message (I believe game ratings only appear in the mid-1990s) or just a passing joke...

Teaser text from the American version:
Alone on a stormy night... enter, if you dare, the unspeakable horror of SPLATTERHOUSE! Hideous ghouls and demented demons leap from every corner in a relentless nightmare of terror. Who's that with a saw? Look out for that axe! Just don't lose your head, as shock after gruesome shock assaults your senses. Your only hope... unleash the monster within yourself and fight back in the grisly mayhem of SPLATTERHOUSE!

Game Staff (Copied from the end credits) :


Y. Asada
Mr. Yokoyama

Papaya Payapaya

Sound Program
T. Kobayashi


Original Music

Graphic Designed
Y. Sakakibara


Original Art
M. Ishida

Visual Effect
T. Oda

Special Designed
Title Designed
Spanky Usukura

Special Artist

Special Thanks

1988 1990


Splatterhouse manual Splatterhouse American manual Splatterhouse commercial
Click on picture to enlarge

Splatterhouse - Stage select screen Stage and sound select screen:
On the title screen, press Run to start a new game. Then, when the screen with the mansion in the rain appears, press Select three times, then hold down and left, and press I and II at the same time. The Stage select screen will appear (picture on the right). If you press Select on the level select screen, the menu will change to a sound test. Press Select again to switch back to the stage menu.

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The horror and macabre theme, gory effects and grotesque enemies all contributed to Splatterhouse's success in the late 1980s. Although the gore was slightly turned down, this PC Engine port really delivers the goods! What I like the most about Splatterhouse is its gross-out comedy (unlike the gratuitous and extreme violence that can be found in today's games) that reminds me of the classic horror movies from the 1980s, such as Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street. There is a palpable sense of smugness when you swing that wooden plank for the first time, and splatter zombies against a wall. Although levels tend to look alike, enemy designs are rather unique and creative, and some are particularly vile and disturbing. I have only one gripe about the game - Kirk can be really stiff to control, and the game becomes a real challenge when the screen gets cluttered with enemies. But, all in all, this PC Engine port is an excellent conversion and is overall really faithful to the arcade. I feel that this version definitively helped drive Splatterhouse popularity outside of Japan (the coin-op was a very rare occurrence in the west).

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