"When a knife is thrown at Rick, what does he do? FUCKING PUNCHES IT, that's what! When was the last time you punched a knife — fist-to-blade — and it was the knife that lost? Yeah, that's never happened, 'cause you ain't as badass as Rick! Rick will fuck you up!"
In the Splatterhouse series of Beat 'em Up games created by Namco, players control protagonist Rick Taylor as he fights against diabolical supernatural forces in a struggle to save the woman he loves (and, in Splatterhouse 3, his son). Rick has a constant companion throughout this freak show of demented demons: the Terror Mask, an ancient artifact which confers great and terrible powers upon its bearer — and seems to have a mind ofits own...Namco originally released the first Splatterhouse in arcades; in the United States, its graphic violence sparked a media frenzy from Moral Guardians, which got it swiftly pulled from American arcades. Its later release on the TurboGrafx-16 received some Bowdlerization (later games did not get such treatment, since they were console-only games). The relative obscurity of Splatterhouse at the time of its arcade release spared the port and its sequels from many a Moral Guardian's cross-hairs during the early 1990s "violence in video games" moral panic spawned by Mortal Kombat and Night Trap.While the first two Splatterhouse games feature 2D side-scrolling Kung Fu Master-style gameplay (Rick can splatter most enemies in one hit and only survive a few hits himself), Splatterhouse 3 plays like a Streets of Rage-style beat 'em up and included a non-linear exploration element where players navigate a maze of rooms to reach a boss battle.Besides the main series, Namco also published a bizarre and wacky prequel on the Famicom — Splatterhouse: Wanpaku (or "Naughty") Graffiti — featuring Super-Deformed versions of the game's characters and parodies of numerous horror films (and their associated tropes).The series sat dormant after Splatterhouse 3, and fans clamored for a new game for years. In 2010, Namco Bandai delivered with Splatterhouse (released for the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360). This remake/re-imagining of the first game essentially works as a modern-day version of its 16-bit predecessors, with all that description entails (one example: if Rick takes a lot of damage, he'll lose massive amounts of skin and body parts until he can heal). Namco Bandai also included the entire original trilogy (including the uncut arcade version of the first game), which turned the disc into the ultimate Splatterhouse collection.
UNTAGGED PLOT SPOILERS FOLLOW. You have been warned.
Splatterhouse ~ During a nasty storm, "parapsychology" (um, sure) students Rick Taylor and Jennifer Wills take refuge in West Mansion, known to locals as "the Splatterhouse" due to rumors of insane experiments carried out by the mansion's owner, renowned — and missing — researcher Dr. West. Once inside, a group of demons kidnap Jennifer and attack Rick, who gets left for dead. When Rick awakens in the mansion's dungeon, he finds his face covered by the "Terror Mask", a Mayan artifact capable of sentient thought. The Mask fused itself to Rick; it gives him superhuman strength and encourages him to explore the mansion to find Jennifer. Rick kills pretty much anything (emphasis on thing) in his path as he climbs to the mansion's upper floors, but when he finds Jennifer, she transforms into a monster. An enraged Rick kills the monster to stay alive, then discovers that the mansion has become a living creature; once he destroys its "womb", it "dies" and goes up in flames. Rick escapes the mansion and kills the final creature blocking his way (in the graveyard outside of the mansion); after the creature dies, the Terror Mask explodes, and Rick returns to normal.
Splatterhouse 2 ~ Three months later, nightmares of the Splatterhouse — and Jennifer — haunt Rick. During one of these nightmares, Rick hears the Terror Mask's voice again; it tells him Jennifer's soul lives on, and if he can save it, he can bring her back to life. Rick returns to West Mansion and puts the (reformed) Terror Mask on again, then travels through the ruins of West Mansion to discover a path to a secluded mansion belonging to West's research partner, Dr. Mueller. Mueller's mansion contains a portal into Hell itself — where a demonic force known as The Evil One holds Jennifer's soul. Rick enters this portal, fights off Hell itself to save Jennifer's soul, then leaves Hell with Jennifer in his arms and The Evil One on his trail. Rick manages to outrun The Evil One, fight off the last pursuing abominations, and lay the Terror Mask to rest once more.
Splatterhouse 3 ~ Five years after saving Jennifer, Rick has become a successful Wall Street tycoon; he now lives in a mansion in Connecticut with Jennifer and their son, David. David has latent psychic abilities, however, and The Evil One plans to use them to unlock the power of the Dark Stone, an artifact which will open a portal between Hell and Earth large enough for an army of demons to come through and overrun Earth. The Terror Mask senses The Evil One's power as it overtakes Rick's mansion, and with both David and Jennifer in peril, it easily convinces Rick to fight The Evil One's hordes once more. Players determine if Jennifer and David live or die by finishing levels under certain time limits, though the gameplay finale is unchanged regardless of their fates: Rick encounters (and destroys) The Evil One, then learns that the Terror Mask used Rick to usurp The Evil One's position. After the Mask attempts to use the Dark Stone, Rick defeats the Terror Mask once and for all in the climactic battle.
Splatterhouse (2010) ~ Rick and Jennifer, students of infamous "parabiologist" Dr. Henry West, arrive at West's mansion to interview him. West sends creatures (who serve The Corrupted) to kidnap Jennifer and kill Rick. Rick receives a fatal wound from one of these creatures, but in the ensuing chaos, the Terror Mask falls out of an ancient sarcophagus and comes into contact with his blood. The newly-awakened mask tells Rick that it can heal him and help him get Jennifer back, so Rick reluctantly puts the artifact on. After it heals Rick, The Mask transforms him into a hulking beast of a man — then tells him that until he saves Jennifer, it won't come off. Rick's path of destruction leads him through West's mansion and beyond as he fights The Corrupted's servants in all their twisted, disgusting forms to save Jennifer and stop Dr. West before he can bring The Corrupted to Earth. Along the way, Rick discovers portals that fling him through time and space — revealing things that might happen should West succeed and things that have already happened thanks to a Stable Time Loop — before he arrives at the exact time and place where the "good" doctor wants to bring The Corrupted out to play...
The Splatterhouse series contains examples of the following tropes:
1-Up: In the third game, you can find hidden rooms that leads to books that gives Rick an extra lives.
2½D: In the first two games, not only do you have to avoid obstacles on the same 2D plane that you're in, but also enemies and traps from the background. Some weapons can be picked up from the background as well.
A Taste of Power: The remake starts with The Terror Mask putting Rick in Berserk Mode and pumping him full of power. Rick can't take that much power at once, so the Mask decides that they'll need to "take it slow".
Advancing Wall of Doom: As the original game began life in the arcades, all levels in it contain a device to keep players from stalling, in the form of a slow-moving wall of glowing, rippling purple something that pursues you until you reach the boss. The console-exclusive Splatterhouse 2 does this twice; once by having the Kraken chase you across a collapsing bridge, and once as you're escaping Hell by having a giant glowing creature — which is possibly the Evil One - pursue you while shooting energy balls at you.
A couple of the side-scrolling segments in the 2010 game have some form of this as well.
Alien Blood: Demon Blood in this case — while plain ol' red is pretty prevalent as well, quite a few of the enemies have blood of various other colors. Strangely enough, it seems that backgrounds in all three games are allowed to be as red as possible, but blood from enemies has to be another color if it's freshly spilled (such as a low-level mook in part 3 with bloody red stumps where its head and hands should be, but still bleeds green). Even then, it's not a strictly enforced rule, as a boss in part 2 explodes into a crimson spray that even runs down the screen.
Ascended Extra: Dr. West was the one who kidnapped Jennifer in the game that started the franchise, but never actually appeared on-screen, and indeed didn't exist at all until the manuals for the home console port were printed. He appears in full in the remake, with a fairly fleshed out backstory.
Mirror Rick becomes an actual boss in the remake, as opposed to a generic enemy that Rick has to fight. He would have had actual lines too, but they were Dummied Out (he intended to Kill and Replace Rick).
Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Hell Chaos, the last boss of the first game. His head alone is as tall as Rick. The rest of his unseen, rotten body is underground.
The Remake gives us Golem, an enormous tentacled beast grown from a doll full of tentacles that armors itself into a humanoid shape using furniture from throughout the house.
The giant Boreworms are really giant this time.
The final boss, The Overlord, is a massive, vaguely humanoid beast composed of ten thousand corpses supplied by your rampage against the monsters of the game.
Ax-Crazy: The Terror Mask in the remake. He keeps urging Rick to kill more stuff.
Which, believe it or not, makes him better than his original trilogy persona; the few lines the mask spoke in the classic games imply that it is a very cold and cunning being; while the new personality seems to be interested in only killing other demons and just having "fun" with a little bit of a revenge quest snuck in, the old one wanted to outright kill every being in its path for world domination, Jennifer, David and even Rick himself included.
Badass Boast: The Terror Mask gets one in the opening of the remake after Rick asks what it is.
The Terror Mask: "Let's just say I'm God. Your God. Well, at least the only one who's listening right now."
A subtle, but present, example at the start of the second game:
The Terror Mask: "Rick... she doesn't have to die. You can still save her. Only I can give you that power. Rick... you need me."
Bad Future: One of the places you travel to in the remake, New York City, thirteen months after failing to save Jennifer, the Corrupted have basically ended everything.
Better to Die Than Be Killed: Before the first boss fight in Splatterhouse 2, three monsters choose being torn apart by the boss rather than face Rick.
"Blind Idiot" Translation: The name "Biggy Man" is actually meant to be "Piggy Man", which is the actual romanized spelling used in the PC Engine version's manual (as well as in the official soundtrack). In an early strategy guide for the TurboGrafx-16 version for the first game, Piggy Man's name was mistranslated "Biggy Man" and this mistake was propagated by fansites, eventually making its way into the American-developed 2010 version.
Blood Knight: The Terror Mask. Established in the remake, as according the original trilogy's very few dialogues and manuals, the mask is very clear on its primary goals and doesn't seem to crave fighting and killing as much as it does in the remake.
Body Horror: It's hard to find a series with more body horror than this one. In fact, it's hard to find a single frame of a Splatterhouse game that doesn't have some kind of body horror in it.
Bonus Stage: The Strange Zone (Stage X) in the third game, they're essentially bonus stages with no timer where you fight off some enemies and pick up some 1-Ups and power stones.
Body of Bodies: The Final Boss of the second game. Also the one from the remake... this time more literally, as some of the bodies he's composed of will occasionally fall off, revive and charge at you.
Boss In Mooks Clothing: In some areas of the remake you'll find a single, apparently ordinary mook all alone. For some reason, it can kill you with one Deadly Lunge if you're not careful enough, even at full health.
Bowdlerization: Believe it or not, the 2010 game got a small bit of this; instead of the game's easy difficulty being called "Pussy", Namco higher-ups made them change it because they felt it would be insulting to gamers. It was changed to "Coward". It's particularly odd because this is a game in which the Terror Mask constantly berates your character's reluctance or fear with lines like "I'm sorry, did your vagina say something just now?"
The Terror Mask was originally the "Hell Mask" in Japan.
In the first game, the Inverted Cross boss was reskinned into a monster head for the console ports.
Breakable Weapons: Especially in the Remake. Justified, as Rick is swinging said weapons with unearthly power. Furthermore if they weren't breakable they'd be a Game Breaker.
"See, that's the kind of shit that got us an M-rating."
Call Back: The remake is made for the fans, and crams a mind numbing amount of these into it, in fact it could even have its own page. Here is just a few:
To the intro of Splatterhouse 2.
"She doesn't have to die..."
The same line also serves as a callback within the 2010 game itself, as the Terror Mask says this to Rick before he puts it on; later on, we hear Dr. West saying he heard a voice say the same thing to him after his wife died.
When the Terror Mask tells Rick of his time on earth before West (see the Noble Demon entry below), Rick is the one who identifies the people the Mask met and protected as Aztecs. The Terror Mask will say that he always thought they were Mayans, who were said to have created the Mask in the first game.
Early stages of the game have furniture flying at you magically, not unlike the second boss of the first game. The boss of the second level starts out similarly, before using the contents of the room to become a colossal golem of furniture and tentacles.
In the past, you attempt to save Jennifer (who is actually the identical Leonora) from being burnt like a witch. Just as you reach her, she turns into a monster and attacks you.
Not only does Mirror Rick make a return, but now he has a red mask like in the TurboGrafx-16 version.
The Boreworms make an appearance, but are now nothing but tiny little things that you casually squish for extra blood, possibly in reference to Rick's visibly larger size. The Giant Boreworm also shows up. He's grown a lot since last we saw him.
Rick's default form resembles Mutant Rick from Splatterhouse 3.
Ultimate Evil has a cameo as the Heart of the Corrupted.
Chainsaw Good: For Rick in Splatterhouse 2; it's also the best weapon in the remake (next to the shotgun).
Chainsaw Not-So-Good: The infamous boss Piggy Man from the first game had chainsaws where his hands should be.
Cluster F-Bomb: Rick and the Terror Mask in the remake, especially the Terror mask.
Inverted with Mirror Rick, who was just a normal enemy to overcome in the original game. The remake, however, makes Mirror Rick a full-on boss, albeit occasionally throwing weaker Mirror Ricks at you before coming back to the fight.
Demonic Possession: Rick can give up control to the Terror Mask in the remake for short periods of time. The resulting juggernaut is able to flay demons apart in single strikes, siphon blood out of multiple enemies at once, and risks killing Rick if it's maintained past the enforced duration.
Jennifer becomes a victim of this at the end of the remake. Thanks a lot, West.
Determinator: Monsters kidnap Jennifer. Rick kills all the monsters. Jennifer turns into a monster and must be killed. Rick goes to hell and gets her back. Eldritch horrors invade Rick's mansion and attack his family. Whether he saves them or not, there is going to be hell to pay.
Die, Chair! Die!: In the original arcade game, justified as they were possessed and out to kill you. In the remake, you can smash some of the crates, barrels, and other objects laying around for Boreworms and get their blood.
Early-Bird Cameo: After you defeat Head Snake, the keeper of the gate to the Void in Splatterhouse 2, you see a huge, red mass being expelled from the passage. It's the Ultimate Evil, and you fight it as the final boss later.
Eldritch Abomination: Pretty much everything, to some degree. The House itself, and some of the monsters from the second game counts.
Elite Mooks: Many enemies have a stronger counterpart, namely the Teratoid and Abhore have the Demon Teratoid and the Demon Abhore.
Embedded Precursor: The 2010 revival has the original trilogy of Splatterhouse games as unlockable bonuses.
Everything Trying to Kill You: Aside from the ordinary hellish creatures from Another Dimension, things that attempt to kill Rick include random wildlife, furniture, household tools, his own reflection, his girlfriend/wife-to-be, and his son's teddy bear.
Evil Feels Good: The Terror Mask in the remake is constantly trying to get Rick to admit he loves the power and strength it gives him.
"Who am I? Let's just say I'm God. Your god. 'Least the only god that's listening right now. What do I want? Ah, the same as any god. Little faith. For without faith, I am nothing. And without me... you're fucked."
Good Thing You Can Heal: The Mask in the remake has an amazing healing power. Pretty much required, as some injuries will leave you with missing chunks of flesh, exposed bones and missing arms.
Gorn: The series gets off on this, sometimes to the point of being stomach-churning.
Growing Muscles Sequence: Rick goes through a pretty gruesome one as soon as he wears the Terror Mask in the beginning of the 2010 remake.
Hockey Mask and Chainsaw: Rick wears a hockey mask and can sometimes use a chainsaw. In sequels, the mask was redesigned to look more like a skull, but the similarities to Jason's signature mask were still pretty apparent.
Hollywood Nerd: Pre-Terror Mask Rick in the remake. Even after putting the mask on, he still keeps his dweeby-sounding voice.
I'm a Humanitarian: "The Children consume human flesh with much relish. I tried it once. It was not to my taste."
Jump Scare: Splatterhouse 2 ends with one after the credits.
In the remake: during the Meat Factory, the game suddenly flashes images of Jennifer's hideously deformed face saying "Rick, save me."
Ludicrous Gibs: The various "Splatterkills" you can perform in the 2010 remake. One particularly charming one involves Rick shoving his hand up an creature's asshole and ripping out its intestines.
Made of Plasticine: Most enemies are, to some extent. That, or the Terror Mask is just that powerful.
Considering that the arcade version of the original game opens with Rick having to be saved from death by the Mask after he enters the mansion, the latter is likely the case.
Made all too clear in the remake. Rick without the mask is damn near sliced in half during the attack that leaves him dying; Rick with the mask is able to rip the same enemies to shreds with his bare fists.
Mad Scientist: A boss in the second game. He chucks beakers of incendiary chemicals. (In the Western version he's Dr. Mueller, a research partner of Dr. West. In Japan, he IS Dr. West.)
Doctor West in the remake.
Magnetic Plot Device: Obtained from evidence from the manuals and games, it is revealed that the Terror Mask is the one thing responsible for summoning evil spirits and turning houses into massive horrifying fleshpiles. Apparently, it's a magnet for evil of all sorts. Even the Wanpaku Graffiti ending featured it coming to life, and laughing evilly while poltergeists proceeded to trash the studio.
Multiple Endings: In the third game, whether or not you complete certain stages before the time limit is up determines which ending you see.
Museum Game: The newest Splatterhouse (2010) is a softer museum example as beating this Nintendo Hard game earns the right to play the original 3 games, while also viewing extra art and information on them. It's basically a playable tour through the Splatterhouse franchise plus art and information. This is done as both a nostalgic reward for fans of the original series (especially as many wanted to play the uncensored game but never could) and to educate new players about the cool stuff that came before.
When you view the completed pictures of Jennifer in the game's menus, they have date and place labels; among the places the photos were taken are "Dark Stone Nightclub", "Mueller's Bar", and "Wanpaku Graffiti".
The game not only references the Dark Stone several times, but shows it during certain loading screens.
The Scream Park features three bosses from the original games as part of the background: Hell Chaos (the final boss of Splatterhouse), Big Head (the glowing head from Splatterhouse 2), and the Giant Boreworm (from Splatterhouse 3).
Nintendo Hard: The 2010 game is pretty hard, compared to other modern beat-em-ups. The very first room past the Taste Of Power opening can kill you repeatedly on normal difficulty. Opponents don't have much Mook Chivalry, Rick needs only a few hits to die, and he isn't very good at crowd-clearing.
Noble Demon: The Terror Mask tells Rick that after escaping the influence of the Corrupted, he took up the role of a protector to the ancient Aztecs, and was actually pretty good at it, and partly wants revenge on the Corrupted because they killed all the people he was protecting. When Rick doesn't believe the Terror Mask, he tells Rick that, if a good guy like Rick could do a few bad things (which he certainly has at this point), then the opposite could be true with himself.
Much in contrast to his personality in the original trilogy, there the Terror Mask wanted the other demons dead for his goals of world domination, no revenge involved. Overall the classic Terror Mask is more of a cunning evil bastard and the new Terror Mask is a happy killer.
Off with His Head!: Rick can decapitate enemies when he's using a machete. This Rick kills many of the bosses in the remake, most notably the Giant Boreworm. He can even do this with some of his Splatterkills.
Blue Hominis can do this too to Rick, which is obviously instant death for you.
During the last phase, Rick confronts Doctor West, and after revealing his big plan for revenge against Rick (for things West accidentally set in motion himself), Rick replies "Yeah... well fuck you." To which Doctor West shouts, "No, Rick. FUCK YOU!!!"
Perhaps the funniest shout out are the disembodied hands giving Rick the finger, straight out of Evil Dead 2.
One of the heads circling the "inverted cross" boss from the first game is the head of The Toxic Avenger.
The horror movie references are visibly obvious but the oddly detailed plot came from Lovecraft before it became trendy, mixed with bits of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure part 1. Who would have guessed the Terror Mask was based on more than Jason Voorhees?
During the final phase of the last boss fight in the second game, the boss takes on the form of a bat-like creature and music suspiciously similar to "Bloody Tears" from Castlevania plays.
When Rick first obtains a shotgun, the gun's previous owner appears to be Ash Williams.
The game packed in references to the works of Lovecraft: in Chapter Six, a monstrous beast resting in a tank towards the end of the level looks a lot like Cthulhu; several spells and prayers spoken by Dr. West — himself, a reference Herbert West — mention "Chtulhu fhtagn" and "Shub-Niggurath"; sharp-eyed players can spot other minor references to Cthulhu in the backgrounds of several stages, such as a piece of wall decor in Chapter 11; and Jennifer and Rick attend a university located in Arkham, the fictional city featured in numerous Lovecraft stories.
For shout outs to the original series, see the Call Back and Mythology Gag entries above.
Shows Damage: The 2010 remake. As Rick gets damaged by enemies and traps, you can see pieces of his flesh ripped apart , even his arm can be ripped off as shown in Chapter One (which also cripples your ability to fight back). Thanks to the Terror Mask though, he can regenerate lost flesh and arms.
Slide Attack: A possible maneuver in the first two games. The second game changed this so that you have to do a full jump to perform a slide attack instead of being possible regardless of jump height in the first game.
Stable Time Loop: Sometime in the past, Dr. West witnesses a masked figure re-killing his already-dead wife Leonora and vows to make humanity pay. Moving forward a few hundred years, West kidnaps Jennifer and mortally wounds Rick, forcing him to put on the Terror Mask. Eventually, Rick will go back in time — he's the masked figure that West saw kill his wife, thus causing his Start of Darkness.
Spin Attack: A possible maneuver in the third game, and you might need it to save precious time when dealing with several enemies.
Super Mode: Rick can do this on command in the third game, hulking out and gaining massive strength. Rick can also do this in the 2010 game, but instead of gigantic muscles and his bones grow out of his body and form blades. In both games, your super mode drains your Power and Necro Meter respectively.
Suspicious Video Game Generosity: The pen-ultimate boss in Splatterhouse 2 gives you plenty of points worth extra lives, and you might need them if this is your first time playing the game blind.
Theme Music Power-Up: In the remake, any time Rick goes into his super form, the game picks one of a collection of metal songs to play, all with dramatic names like "Apocalyptic Havoc".
As well, at the end of the game after dealing the final blow to the boss, Rick and Jennifer are about to be crushed. Cue a QTE to that begins the shredding chords of "Pounding Nails Into Your Coffin" as Rick single-handedly throws a skyscraper-sized giant off them, tackles it, tears its heart out, and chucks the boulder-sized heart 20 feet.
Timed Mission: The third game is all about this. You have to complete each mission within a certain time limit if you want Jennifer or David to live. While failing to do so doesn't harm Rick, you can only get the one Good Ending if they both survive.
Title Drop: After Biggy Man comes back for round two in the remake.
"Show him why we call it 'SPLATTERHOUSE'."
Writing Around Trademarks: Well, this example counts more as "Spriting Around Trademarks". In the arcade version of the first game, the Terror Mask resembles the symbolic hockey mask of Jason Voorhees; in the TurboGrafx-16 port, Namco changed the color to red to likely prevent a lawsuit. The sequels returned the color of the mask to white(-ish), but altered the mask's design to be more skull-like.
As a Shout-Out to this, one of the DLC masks in the 2010 game is a red hockey mask appropriately called the "Retro Hockey Mask".
Timed Mission: Every level in the third game is timed, and if you mess it up it affects your ending.
The remake has an entire timed level, The Wicker Bride, where you must run through a garden maze before a fanatic mob of townspeople declare Lenora / Jennifer a witch and take the usual countermeasure to this kind of situation. Because of the time-traveling portals, you will repeatedly get extra time once you fight through a wave of monsters, but you'd still better book it.
Villain Protagonist: In the first game, Rick is dressed like a hospital patient. This is because originally, he was supposed to be an escaped psycho chasing Jennifer. Him being a standard good guy and her boyfriend was a case of last-minute Executive Meddling.
In the remake, most of the interiors of the House in many levels are fleshy and alive. There are also the "Mouth Guardians" (gigantic living maws that you must feed with monsters), Eye Guardians (Gigantic eyes) and the nucleus of the House, which this time is a gigantic heart.