February is the month of love, so most people say, so what better way to send it off than doing a retrospective on one of the most underrated love stories in all of gaming: Splatterhouse, however, we’ll be focusing on the concluded story of the original trilogy as the remake ends on a sequel-bait cliffhanger, but will still be talked about.
The original trilogy and the remake are both huge gorefests with the amount of body horror you face and give to enemies, especially in the latter, but there’s something that overpowers it: The series, in all games, is the story of a doom-driven man out to rescue his girlfriend and see her safe, no matter who or what stands in his way, be it monsters, ghosts, possessed household items (Rick PUNCHES knives and flying chainsaws, FIST TO BLADE, and WINS!), and even eldritch horrors from beyond the grave or realm of the living.
That being said, we’ll follow the JP Canon Storyline, Famicom release Wanpaku Graffiti ignored for ease considering it is a disconnected entry at worst and a loose prequel at best, with this retrospective seeing as there are only two major differences between the two: Jennifer’s fate between the first and second games, and the involvement of Dr. West.
The first game which came out on the Arcade and the PC-Engine or TurboGrafx-16, had the start of this story where we first meet Rick and Jennifer, a couple out to seek shelter from the rain in the West Mansion, also known by another name: Splatterhouse.
There, Jennifer was kidnapped by monsters and Rick was attacked and left for dead when the Terror Mask found him, and forcing itself onto his face, gave him enough power to slaughter any and every monstrosity standing on his way to rescue Jen and get away from the mansion. However, fate has other plans and he had to kill the mutated Jennifer, seeing her soul disappear in his arms as her physical form crumbled. He then faced the house’s womb and the resurrected Hell Chaos, setting the mansion aflame with the former’s death and the latter being resurrected from a soul escaping from the Terror Mask and taking over an unmarked grave.
After that grueling battle, Rick is left all alone, the memory of Jennifer dying in his arms haunting him and the Terror Mask blowing apart to pieces, but reforming once again once Rick disappears. Such a somber story told in 4 stages in a concise manner, so nice.
Splatterhouse 2, released on the Sega Genesis or Mega Drive in other regions, is set 3 months after the first game, in which the Terror Mask torments Rick and keeps telling him (translating the JP text on the intro scene) that “She’s not dead.”, “If you want to save her, find the hidden manor.”, and “Once you arrive, I shall give you that power.”, Rick accepts and comes face-to-face with the Terror Mask once again.
Rick fights his way through other monsters he has not encountered before, reaching the portal to the world of the dead, removing the seal placed on the opening in the world of the living in order to dive into the Land of the Dead, defeats the guardian and breaking open the crystal housing her soul and in essence resurrecting her, and escaping again, this time from the house and with the newly-resurrected Jennifer in tow.
And doing all this before defeating the Hideous Pantheon (A mass of human and wolf heads with bat wings) which escaped when you opened the earlier seal before Rick and Jennifer can safely escape and start anew with their lives.
The Terror Mask gives Rick a warning in the end: “Remember this, you’ve removed the seal. We’ll meet again. Farewell!”, is an ominous set of parting words.
Splatterhouse 3, released on the same console, is set years later, after Rick has become a successful broker and built a mansion for himself and his family, having married Jennifer and now having a son, David.
One night, the freed Evil One invades Rick’s home with the ominous Dark Stone in tow (that or it was in Rick’s home as a decoration without the family knowing what it really was), letting loose a horde of monsters and putting Rick’s family in severe danger, which the in-game time limit connects to. Perhaps due to the Dark Stone’s presence, the Terror Mask gives Rick the power to transform into Mutant Rick, a much more powerful state which allows him to destroy monsters easier, battling and destroying both the Dark One and the Terror Mask after it reveals its true intentions.
With 6 stages and a rewarding storyline should you clear stages fast enough, giving Rick the best (and canonical) ending where his family survives and the Terror Mask has gone for good, his life having a turn to true peace until the end of their days.
The 2010 Remake of Splatterhouse released on the PS3 and Xbox 360 is a good game, and the story is similar to the first, albeit with changes that were, in my opinion, for the better as it sets up a different flow towards the heavy realizations in-game.
Now, the story starts the same as the first, but with Rick being killed by a monster that Dr. West himself summons, and he wears the Terror Mask instead of being found and possessed by it.
This time, the new Rick goes through a lot worse as Lovecraftian horrors that face him are much bigger, and even the Biggy Man/Piggy Man (However you wanna call him, the US or JP name) is fought not just one like in the original, but TWICE, first on the 2.5D plane and another on the 3D plane, not to mention Dr. West’s active involvement in the story in his own quest to resurrect his dead wife Leonora who bears a surprising resemblance to Rick’s girlfriend Jennifer.
Crushing his way through the enemies that appear and through all phases of the solar eclipse reaching totality on his way to rescue Jennifer and saving her from the mad hands of Dr. West where it ends with a stinger revealing her to be possessed by something from the Corrupted’s prison realm.
Summing everything up, Splatterhouse as a whole series is as big a guilty pleasure playing in Valentine’s either on a date or during your Single Awareness Day as watching Dogma during Holy Week. If you still have a PS3 or Xbox 360, I recommend picking up a copy since aside from the main game, it has the original trilogy as well, allowing you to experience the fun and uncensored gore galore of the original ones in HD, giving players a different experience in the Horror sub-genre of Beauty and the Beast like the one Tromeo and Juliet or The Toxic Avenger affords.