Remembering Splatterhouse 30 Years On

Thirty years ago this month, a new arcade game was released by Namco. It was a game that was very different to the Pacman arcade machine or Space Invaders game at your local arcade, though. This game was Splatterhouse, the now famous slasher beat 'em up arcade game.

Having a horror theme, Splatterhouse was a departure from the normal games that Namco was producing at the time – Galaga, Pac-Man, and Rally X to name a few. Namco saw other arcade game manufacturers having success with horror-themed games, though, so decided to make one of their own.

Well, they did more than that, actually, as they upped the gore levels with Splatterhouse, a game that reveled in the gratuitousness of its violence. Of course, we are comparing Splatterhouse with other arcade games of the 1980s, not with today, as Splatterhouse is quite tame by today's standards.

Back when it was first released, though, it had shock-factor. In one of its home console ports, the packaging for Splatterhouse carried the warning that the "horrifying" gameplay “may be inappropriate for young children... and cowards”.

The Gameplay

In Splatterhouse, you control the anti-hero Rick in a haunted mansion. The creatures in the mansion kill him at the start of the game, only for Rick to be revived by a hockey mask.

His girlfriend, Jennifer, remains trapped in the mansion, however, and needs to be saved by Rick before the undead creatures kill her too.

So, you punch, smash, and slash your way through monsters and other evil creatures in a bid to rescue Jennifer.

Pop Culture Influences

Splatterhouse borrows a lot from popular culture at the time including the hockey mask which is very similar to that worn by Jason in Friday the 13th. Other horror movies that appear to have influenced the game include The Evil Dead, Poltergeist, and Night of the Living Dead.

The game was first released in Japan in 1988 before making its way to the US a year later. It wasn't widely available, however, as arcade owners appeared to shy away from the gory nature of the gameplay so didn't purchase it for their arcades.

Where it gained its biggest following was when it was ported to home gaming consoles. Sequels and spin-offs followed, but it never really reached the heights that Namco had hoped. That said, it has built up a cult fanbase in subsequent years.

While we don’t offer Splatterhouse on our arcade machines, there are loads of other fantastic 1980s games available for you to play. Check out the range now.