TW: Strong violence and gore.
So, this review has been in the works for quite some time. I actually played this game before any of the other Splatterhouse titles, but I finished it after I beat the original 4. I will just say, this game was an absolute blast to play. Yes, captain contrarian strikes one last time before the end of the year, and that this game is what I consider the best game in the series.
Yes, the first two games may be more refined gameplay and design wise, and are thus “objectively” better at succeeding at what they set out to do, but the simple truth of the matter is that Splatterhouse 2010 attempts A LOT more. Even if it doesn’t succeed at everything, the sum of its parts still offers much more than the original games. It has a far more involved and fleshed out story (no pub intended), offers much more content, has a much stronger and more developed sense of atmosphere, the gameplay is at least better than Splatterhouse 3’s, is less memorization based (except for some of those god damn platforming segments), involves a lot more depth, AND the graphics and sound quality are better. Yes that’s because this was a 7th gen console title and the older ones were 16 bit games, but that’s precisely WHY Splatterhouse 2010 is superior; it is the same vision but vastly expanded using today’s technology (err 2010’s at least).
I tend to jokingly refer to a lot of AAA game series that don’t appeal to me, such as Call of Duty, Halo, Assassin’s Creed, Uncharted, and 99% of major titles by Capcom, Koonami, Activisn, EA, or Ubisoft, as “normieshit.” The term “normie” is often used in edgy nerd cultures in a sarcastic fashion to refer to anyone without any eccentric traits or behaviors and is able to blend in with the mainstream. It is similar to the Japanese slang term “Riajuu” except instead of being used to refer to people who lead a fulfilling life, the term is slightly more derogatory but is the type of insult that no you uses unironically (at least I hope not) and has nothing to do with one’s success. It can be used similarly to how “basic” has been used lately, but the people that frequently use that term are typically normies.
As such, “normieshit” is used to refer to the types of games that normie gamers like. Normie gamers should not be confused with “casual gamers” seeing as how the latter refers to people who play mobile titles or facebook games, while normie gamers are the type that typically claim they are “hardcore gamers” while only playing high budget AAA titles and whatever is popular (see also “CODfag” for an alternative with more homophobia). These terms are mainly used facetiously just because I think they’re funny to use, but I also tend to only use normieshit for popular titles that look soulless or uninteresting (or one’s that may be good but I’m just not interested in).
I do have a fair number of AAA titles I really like, them being a lot of first party Nintendo titles as well as those that break the mold or appeal to my tastes. Splatterhouse 2010 is another one of those titles, but it unfortunately was critically panned because mainstream game critics hate fun. This is not the first time I have taken a contrarian opinion regarding a game, but I’ll just let the metacritic page speak for itself.
Yep, it seems like a case of “we were not adequately paid by the publishers to give it a hype review,” especially considering that a lot of the scores are harsher than the actual content of the review and shit that is commonly mentioned in negative reviews just flat out doesn’t happen. For instance, a lot of the reviewers have mentioned that there are issues regarding low framerates and controls yet I noticed none of these issues while playing. Then again I also don’t give a shit about technical quality and I know how to git gud. There has been a lot of talk lately about whether game reviewers need to be “good at games,” and by “talk” I mean that the only people saying no are the reviewers themselves.
While I do feel that the Cuphead video with the guy fumbling around with the tutorial for two minutes was overblown considering that the guy wasn’t even a reviewer and he only recorded it because no one else was available at the time, the fact that every moderately difficult game is compared to Dark Souls by hack reviewers does lead me to believe that some of them just kinda suck at games. To be fair, being bad at a game does not inherently mean that one is not equipped to form an opinion on it. After all, I sucked at Bleed, Attacking Zegeta, 8BitBoy, and Ghostie Quest but those games are still shit. The problem is that every reviewer is expected to at least have a basic level of competence at games, or for them to hold awareness of their lack of skill or knowledge compared to others.
Then again, these critics tend to also say that the game is a shallow button masher so maybe it isn’t a concern here… except for the fact that there are mixed messages. I can only assume that most of these people probably did not even complete the game or the review copy was buggier than the official release. Yes, there were a few things that should have been ironed out, but this game WAS rescued from development hell. It would have been nice to see a patch for it but this game sold about as well as a copy of The Communist Manifesto at a Trump rally due to those reviews. The game sold so poorly that it did not even get a release in Japan; the country that CREATED the series it was based on! And they got Duke Nukem Forever!
One of the valid complaints about Splatterhouse 2010 is its load times. Loading screens often last for 20 seconds, which is a lot for a PS3 game but likely about what one would be used to from a PS1 game. The wait is usually manageable except for when you are at a rather difficult or cheaply designed spot that is easy to die on, such as one of those fucking platforming segments or that one fight near the end of Phase 11 after you catch the meteor (you know which one I’m talking about, the one that drains all your necro energy). Needing to sit through that goddamn loading screen so many times just makes things obnoxious. Cinematic sequences can be skipped thankfully but cutscenes during the levels cannot be. They are usually not too long but again, if you are repeatedly seeing them in tandem with the loading screens it can get very annoying. Thankfully there are only a few of these moments and they are at least manageable.
But what about the content of said cutscenes? Well, I can say that the story mostly delivers on the writing. There are a few lines here and there that can be kinda over the top, but there is an engrossing story going on. Similarly to the original Splatterhouse, the game open’s up with Rick in a pool of his own blood, and the Terror Mask saving his life in exchange for him becoming his host. After he dons the mask, he transforms into this monstrosity……
After the mask possess Rick and goes nuts on the surrounding enemies while a laughably bad metal song plays in the background, he realizes that it hurts to have spikes and blades protruding from your skin and that the human body can’t handle staying in that form for too long, so he decides to settle on Rick having muscles that wouldn’t look out of place in a Bara Manga without all the spikes and stretched skin.
The main plot is basically a re imagining of the first game in that Rick’s girlfriend Jennifer is taken hostage by Dr. West and Rick needs to travel through a monster infested mansion to rescue her. The difference is that there’s an actual plot this time and our characters have personalities. From what I looked up, the original Splatterhouse originally intended for Rick to be a deranged mental patient trying to catch Jennifer but was changed at the last minute (good call on their part). It explains his design but the fact that there was no dialogue meant that it still worked.
Such a feat could not be done for the reboot though as Rick is intended to be the good guy from the start. Women generally are only into large beefy muscle men if they still have a pretty face, so having Rick be a hulking brute from the start would not work as well here. Instead, Rick starts out as a scrawny nerd and retains the same personality despite his body changing. As a result, one of the core themes of this game is Rick’s discomfort with his newfound strength and the fact that the Terror Mask tries to keep tempting Rick into admitting that he just thirsts for blood and gore. Yes, this theme DOES sound similar to something I reviewed fairly recently.
It is notable how the Splatterhouse series has always had wholesome values thematically. When you see someone who is clearly uncomfortable with gore and bludgeon creatures to death with their own severed limbs (or even his own), tearing off their entire torso, or even reaching into their anus and ripping out their intestines; it makes the sacrifice THAT much more apparent. And yes, I cringed looking at a lot of the splatter kills and it made me feel bad for these generic demonic creatures that were just trying to kill me, but then again I’m kind of a pussy because I need to make up for not having one.
On the other hand, these splatter kills are made immensely satisfying because of the fact that you need to specifically avoid spazzing out on combos to set one off when they have little health left and complete a quick time event; which results in you regaining a bit of HP and necro energy. There are no creature voice sound effects during the splatter kills, and the sound effects are never grating (which is something that I can be very finicky about so it’s saying something that to say this game gets it right).
Of course, since mainstream reviewers only played the first few levels, they claimed that you kill enemies before you have the chance to execute a splatter kill and that the game is a mindless button masher. I may as well take the time to say that calling something a “button masher” is a good sign that you are a hack critic. EVERY GAME is about “mashing buttons,” even games that aren’t action games have you mashing buttons a lot. “Button Masher” is nothing but a cheap buzzphrase used to avoid elaborating on the game’s challenge factor, or why it isn’t fun. Newsflash! Games can still be fun even if they are easy!
That is NOT to say that Splatterhouse 2010 is easy though, quite far from it in fact. “Button mashing” in Splatterhouse 2010 will only send you to that god damn loading screen. Looking at it that way, it almost makes me glad it has the load times as to discourage DSPing your way through and instead plan out your attacks; something that game journalists don’t know how to do apparently.
I will at least give credit to the critics where it’s due in that the game starts to recycle the same few enemies repeatedly about half way through, which is unfortunate because there were some real creative designs. Hell you even have enemies that are bosses in earlier stages that are reduced to standard enemies that show up in groups. While one can purchase move upgrades and increase max HP and necro energy, thus giving it some light RPG elements, Splatterhouse 2010 is NOT an RPG and you can only advance by getting gud… and you do.
Combat wise, Splatterhouse 2010 takes more from Splatterhouse 3 than the first two games. Berserker Rick is obviously meant to be similar to Mutant Rick (except actually useful) and the enemies can still take off huge chunks of your HP in only one hit. Unlike in Splatterhouse 3 though, you can also heal yourself much more easily with the splatter siphon move (L1 + Circle). You can only use it if you have spare necro energy, which is filled up by fighting and killing opponents. This means that you can’t just spam healing every time you get hurt and will need to get a few shots in to regain necro energy if they run out. Even if one could though, they’d likely still die a few times if they don’t pay attention.
The combat in Splatterhouse 2010 is more addicting than lemonade mixed with heroine. It may not be as involved as something like God of War or Devil May Cry, but the only other game I’ve seen with so many over the top ways of killing enemies was Madworld. And yes, Splatterhouse 2010 is FAR more violent than the originals, but a lot more of it is stylized rather than atmospheric. There are still a lot of elements of the latter considering how you see Rick’s innards the more damage he takes; and that is not pleasant to look at. The violence is both satisfying and cringe inducing, and it fits with the theme of the story perfectly.
One part of the story that really resonated was Rick worrying about how Jennifer would react to seeing him like that and that she’d view him as a horrific freak. What makes this such an effective plot point is that Jennifer is not given that much development and you don’t get to see her have much of a reaction. You don’t hear her confirm that she does not judge Rick. It’s not because she doesn’t, but more so because Jenny doesn’t get that much screen time.
The damsel in distress plot line has often been criticized for its overuse, and some have even called it a sexist trope. My belief is that it somewhat is, but it’s important to take context into account. The reason that the trope has such a reputation is because it was used as an excuse plot in a lot of retro titles; IE the princess was used as a reward for the hero instead of as their own character, and allegedly teaches young boys that they will always “get the girl” in the end. It thus sets up the mindset that having a girlfriend is an accomplishment or a conquest, and not a mutual loving relationship. It’s a lot like that one Seth Macfarlane short where Mario rescues Peach but she refuses to give him a kiss because that’s not how consent works.
Just look how many straight men use “virgin” as an insult. Scratch that, feminists do it to. Hell even I have likely done so at one point (but I promise it’s only if I think it’s funny, there’s nothing wrong with not having sex and you shouldn’t feel ashamed of it). And yes, playing a game with a “damsel in distress” trope does not mean someone is going to become sexist; it’s merely a reflection of a much deeper issue.
The original Splatterhouse was a straightforward variation on it with the twist that Jennifer turns into a grotesque monster and Rick needs to kill her or get killed himself. This individual moment helped humanize both Rick AND Jenny despite neither of them having a single line of dialogue. Additionally, the peril that Jenny and David are put in in Splatterhouse 3 also humanizes Rick’s relationship to them by emphasizing how horrible it is to lose a wife or son. Jenny and David were not “rewards,” they were Rick’s family and he could not afford to let anything happen to them.
Splatterhouse 2010 continues this trend by emphasizing how important Jenny is to Rick, and that they are in a serious relationship. In the Terror Mask’s own words… “You promised her that you’d be with her till the end of the world. Time to prove you’re a man of your word.” Despite the fact that Rick is literally trying to save Jenny’s life, he does not feel entitled to her and is deeply concerned about being judged as a freak, as if there is any merit to that happening when he rescues her from a mad doctor and the demons of hell. Despite Splatterhouse being exploitative and crass in nature, there is some serious and genuine emotion to it, and you really hold more admiration for Rick’s character than any other stereotypical muscle man… which just pisses me off all the more whenever I remember THIS exchange.
Yes, I’m going there. I don’t care if it was from before we were recognized or if it’s just on offhand line and gamerbros will get butthurt if I complain about it, but I’m going to complain about it. This is transphobic. This line has NO reason to be in the game other than an “lol tranny” joke. Yes, it is in character for the Terror Mask to say as he just wants to fuck with Rick. Hell it is entirely possible that it was something he made up. The Terror Mask is an ancient artifact that has destroyed entire civilizations and likely looks at all humans with equal disdain; he merely knows what to say to screw with him. Rick, however, overreacts the same way as in any of these incidents. All this makes me think is that Rick will literally go through hell to rescue Jennifer, but if she reveals she’s actually a trans woman, Rick would be gone faster than a copy of Mein Khampf at a Trump rally.
Want to know what is even more fucked up? The preceding conversation said that the girl was a sophomore. Now, the game never specified whether she was a college sophomore or a high school sophomore, but I hope I don’t need to explain what is wrong with the latter. But even if she IS a college sophomore, there is still the implication that the girl was younger than him, and the dialogue in the following conversation does not even mention the zinger that was just dropped. Notice how Rick starts taking responsibility for what he did in what was a legitimately emotionally moment. The problem is that any jokes where the punchline is “eww, tranny tricked me into sex” does the exact opposite; it treats Rick like a victim and the girl like a predator. This is despite the fact that the girl was most likely younger AND more likely to be taken advantage of.
The problem with this joke is that it completely kills the mood of the conversation and added NOTHING to the game other than shock value that is only tolerable for a few years. Whatever justifying argument made about the game regarding the standards of the time of its release that may exist do not matter. ANY work of art is judged on how well it stands the test of time. It’s only been seven years and this joke already aged like milk, so I’m going to fucking criticize it. I HATE it when games do this shit.
You AIW gamerbros talk so much about how games are supposed to provide an escape from reality, yet where the fuck is OUR escape when even games we like mock us and we are expected to laugh at it? Yes this game is older and is a more tame example, but I’m just coming off of seeing a bunch of douchebags bitching about trans women being rightfully concerned about the direction of the Catherine remake. Persona 3 is one of the best JRPGs I’ve ever played, but I am unsure if I will ever play it again because of that fucking beach scene and I’m unlikely to touch Catherine either after how I heard the original treated its trans character.
Anyway, I do like how they handled The Mask’s character. Unlike the original trilogy, The Mask isn’t just pure evil. Instead, it is trying to prevent the resurrection of an ancient godlike race called The Corrupted. The Corrupted are played off as Lovecraftian beings that will destroy the world if Dr. West isn’t stopped. The Mask has been made a slave to the corrupted for an eternity and he escaped them through a tiny dimensional rift. There is such intense build up given to The Corrupted and I was greatly anticipating the final battle against them. Unfortunately, the final battle SUCKED.
Calling it a “battle” is being generous, because all you do is defend Jenny from some regular enemies for a few minutes then do a few quicktime events to finish them off. The boss fight at the end of the second stage was more of a final boss than the Overlord was. Earlier in the game, The Mask said something along the lines of “They’re not the corrupted, they’re just groupies. If that were The Corrupted then your face would be melting off.” So how is it that Rick was able to take down the final boss as easily as he did?
According to what I’ve looked up, the fact that the final boss was weak has a plot based excuse in that The Mask was trying to revive them and trap them in a weak body made of the corpses of the sacrifices rather than the special bodies Dr. West made for them. The problem is that this came completely out of nowhere and I don’t even remember there being anything that stated The Corrupted needed bodies. It just sounds like an excuse to justify an underwhelming final battle. Additionally, The Mask tells Rick that him killing Dr. West gave them the final sacrifice needed to be set free… only for Dr. West to still be alive after the battle.
However, what kills any chance this game had of having a good ending is that it ended on a FUCKING CLIFFHANGER! Basically, Jenny gets possessed by the corrupted and Rick’s deal with The Mask is not complete. Great, we have a sequel hook for a game that’s never getting a sequel cause it sold poorly; genius move Namco, really! Why in the name of fuck have developers not learned from Shenmue 2 to NEVER assume you will be able to make a sequel? There is a TON of shit that can go wrong, and Namco thought that after the development hell this game went through and laying off its staff that it was still okay not include a final battle or an ending?
And no, you can’t just play the original games to figure out what happens because Splatterhouse 2010 does not follow the plot of the original arcade game, and there were a shit ton of plot threads that never even existed in the original game. Fittingly enough, this reboot could use a remake itself. It would be cool to see an updated version with less bugs and less loading. Also upgraded visuals because this game looked way too blurry when I made any movement. Oh but that would mean they’d have to re license all the music… fuck.
Oh, well on that note, the music is badass. You have a bunch of songs licensed from Metal bands such as Five Finger Death Punch and Mastadon, and you have original compositions that fit the same format by Howard Drossin, who also did the soundtracks for Sonic & Knuckles, Comix Zone, and Baldur’s Gate II: Throne of Bhaal. These tracks are effective at both kicking ass and invoking atmosphere. I was not too big on some of the licensed tracks (“Must Kill” for instance, sounds like the most stereotypical metal song every created and is basically what old people think ALL metal is) but most of the tracks were fucking wicked (albeit rather forced).
The graphics were excellent with the exception of that fucking blur that I don’t even know whether or not is the game’s fault or my TV’s, sound effects were well used, voice acting was decent (Jim Cummings as The Terror Mask definitely stole the show), story was compelling and interesting except for the ending, gameplay was fun, it has a lot of replay value with the battle arena mode, and you even get nudes of Jenny as collectible items that reveal more information about Jenny’s character. It manages to add depth to the story while still being completely and utterly tasteless, that is awesome!
Despite the fact that Splatterhouse 2010 could have really used a few more years to iron out a few flaws, to develop a better climax, or to get converted by the trans agenda and not include that fucking quip, I stand by my statement that it is the best in the series. The only one with any competition is the original, but you can beat it in 30 minutes. Maybe I’m just biased against old games cause I was a mid 90s/2000s kid and because I like shit with stories. I’m probably one of the few gamers that actually puts story over gameplay, but I would prefer that both be good. In this case, both WERE good but could have been done better.
I keep finding myself considering whether or not I should start giving review scores again, and every time I do I remember why I ditched them in the first place. It is this arbitrary categorization that encourages people to skip to the end and read the score without reading the content of the review or getting butthurt before reading without paying any attention to the content. It’s such a reductive method of game critique because games are works of artistic expression, and you can’t quantify human emotion.
This is why I stopped writing shit for GameFAQs and decided to write stuff on my own terms; it means less blithering morons demanding I follow arbitrary standards and view games as products rather than art. Anyone can make a laundry list of features and point them out as positive and negative, it’s another to explain WHY these things are fun or why they don’t work. I explicitly focus on being as descriptive, in depth, and analytical as I can be without resorting to artificiality or a formula, and I always prefer to say shit that hasn’t already been said, and what isn’t commonly said is that this game kicks ass!
Well, I finally finished reviewing this series… unless I start to make enough money through Patreon that I can afford the LCD game or the Wanpaku Grafitti sequel. Anyway, Splatterhouse 2010 can be bought either here (PS3) or here (360). If we want any hope of seeing a follow up, then it is best to support the series in any commercially viable ways, which include.
-The virtual console releases of the original 3 games (last day you can add Wii points is March 26th 2018)
–Namco Museum for Switch which contains the original arcade Splatterhouse.
–Splatterhouse 2010’s Mask skins and Survival mode arenas. Buying the game itself will likely not give Namco any money, but the DLC may still work.
In addition to that, if there are any new releases such a Steam ports, getting them would be a good idea. It may seem unlikely, but weirder things have happened.
Happy very belated Halloween everybody.