When most people think of Splatterhouse, they think of the violence and blood and guts found on the Turbografx-16 and Sega Genesis consoles. However, oddly enough, possibly the best game in the series is one that a lot of folks have never heard of since it was released exclusively in Japan. This game is much more child-friendly than the others and was released for the Famicom system, but despite the lack of gore and having the worst graphics in the series (mainly due to being on an 8-bit console, of course) this game adds some platforming in with the hack ‘n’ slash gameplay to quite possibly make it the best Splatterhouse game ever made.
The game starts off like a lot of 8-bit games...A girl has been abducted (your girlfriend) and you set out on an adventure to save her. That’s really the whole story here. Not a lot there, but not a lot is really needed, either...This game is all about the action. Using your machete, and occasionally a shotgun, you’ll be destroying any and all enemies that get in your way through various settings while often having to rely on some platforming skills to navigate through a level unscathed. As you defeat enemies, you’ll notice that a counter in the upper left corner will start moving. It starts out at 0/10...After you defeat one enemy, it becomes 1/10, and so on. Once you defeat ten enemies, you’ll hear a tone and a bar will be added to your overall health. Eventually, you’ll need to defeat more enemies than just ten to add another bar to your health...So, it’s kind of like a leveling-up system...The more enemies you kill, the stronger you become. It gives you a reason to actually hack your way through the enemies rather than just jump over or avoid them to reach the end of the level quicker.
The difficulty in Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti is perfect. It can be very difficult in some places, but not so difficult that you can’t overcome it after a few attempts. Some areas seem overwhelmingly hard at first...But after a couple attempts, you’ll find yourself making through those same areas with relative ease. It’s never so easy that you get bored, and never too difficult that you just feel like quitting. It’s not a very long game, but it does have a password system, so if you do happen to get stuck on a level, you won’t have to play through the whole game just to get back to the area you had problems with.
If I had to complain about something in Wanpaku Graffiti, it’d be the length of the game. Even with having to continue a few times, it only took me roughly an hour to reach the end. While it can also be argued that the length helped prevent it from getting repetitive, with the password system and all included in, I guess I was expecting a much longer experience than what I got. The other gripe that I’ll toss out there is how cheap some of the enemies can be...I’ll use the werewolf boss fight as a prime example. When you get hit in Wanpaku Graffiti, you’ll get knocked back...Well, if you get knocked back at certain times against the werewolf, who likes to hop over you, you could get stuck in an unavoidable juggle just because you got knocked back and then he lands on you just as you regain your balance, then get knocked back and landed on again...And the pattern will continue until he randomly decides to not jump over you again. While the cheap stuff like this doesn’t happen very often, it does happen...And it does feel very, very cheap.
While I said that this game was graphically inferior to the other games in the series, it’s actually pretty nice for an ‘89 Famicom game. Every enemy looks completely unique, and most parts of the game look a bit different from one another. Everything is very simple, but also very easy on the eyes. The audio is about the same. Also, while it’s not technically ‘graphics’, much of the text in the game is in English, making it a prime candidate for a possible future release on Wii’s Virtual Console down the road here in North America. The audio tracks really fit the game well. They’re not masterpieces, but the do a very good job of complimenting the game and making the overall package seem that much more of an enjoyable experience.
Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti is another one of those games that you’ll play and wonder why it was never released anywhere but Japan. With a nice blend of platforming and hack ‘n’ slash, this game could be a great undiscovered treasure for a lot of gamers that don’t reside in the Land of the Rising Sun. Despite some cheap deaths and occasional, overcome-able-with-practice difficulty issues, this is a fantastic game to import if you’re looking for some fun platforming that doesn’t involve an overweight plumber. With minimal gore and a focus on platforming, Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti is much different than its 16-bit big brothers...Then again, that may be precisely why it may be the best game in the series as well.