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Masters of Fear: Splatterhouse


You could argue that Iím reading a bit much into a gory video game, but I really donít think so. The developers went out of their way to make you hear the girl cry out for help. In a time when getting voice in games was troublesome and expensive (Just saying the word Sega out loud in Sonic the Hedgehog took up an eighth of the gameís storage space),they made sure that her cries for help were there and audible. Itís not something you read, but something you got to hear and endure. They also made sure you witnessed her transformation, watching how helpless she was against the thing that had ruined her body. It drives the terrible situation home, over and over again. This is what they want you to take away from the game. This is what these things want to do to people. This is why you should hate them.

There are two more levels in the game, but you may find yourself floating through them in a daze. To me, everything ended right there when my girlfriend thanked me for killing her and turned into dust. Splatterhouse is a fun, great game filled with some sickening gore, but itís the points that fly in the face of the rest of the game that made it stick with me. Itís the point when you realize itís just two humans trying to escape this terrible place that the game really finds its staying power. Yes, it is mostly an action game with horrific elements, but it was that one point when it showed its human side that it gained a spot with the horror greats.

Its contribution, as amazing as it sounds, is to being emotionally horrified, something I didnít really expect when I played it a few years ago. I also didnít expect it to hit me as hard as it did the second time, either, but the game hasnít lost any of its power with the age of its graphics and hardware. Yes, at its core itís an absurd situation, but what story doesnít use strange plot lines to explore complex human emotions? Despite being buried in a bloody brawler, SplatterhouseĎs emotional payload isnít any less significant. It stands out all the more due to being the one moment of touching humanity in this twisted world.

I was horrified at the events of this game, shaken to the point where I will always remember that one helpless scream. If that isnít effective horror, then I donít know what is.

Images courtesy of splatterhouse.kontek.net (Literally THE source for everything Splatterhouse. Definitely check these guys out), swankworld.com, greygelgoog.livejournal.com

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About JoelCoutureone of us since 11:26 PM on 05.27.2013

Contributing Editor for mashthosebuttons.com, destitute but determined fantasy novelist & short story writer at joelcouture.com. I wish I was paid for either of those jobs.

I love horror games. If you scare me, I will give you money. I also love terrible games, as it's a lot harder to make a game that's so bad it's hilarious than it is to make something that is just bad.

For some reason I'm not super clear on, I am obsessed with J. Jonah Jameson.