Saturday, June 30, 2012

Playing in Haunted Houses!


By - Steve Mezo

I have loved haunted Houses for as long as I knew what they were.

Even just creepy pictures of them off in the distance with just a lone lit window would get my imagination racing. 
  What was it? 
Was it a lone survivor using the last of the light to ward off what was haunting the house, or something worse?

I think the first haunted house entertainment I ever experienced had to have been on my Fisher Price Movie Viewer "Lonesome Ghost". 
 I watched it till the film literally wore out and broke. 

Then there was The Weeble Haunted House. 
It was so cool because it was the closest thing to being in my own haunted house. 

Then as far as playing around in one in board game form there was
 The Green Ghost Game that my Wife (Then Girlfriend) introduced me too. 
This one is still fun to play!!!

That same year in (1982) electronic versions came out.

There was Atari's Haunted House
The game play was pretty basic where you had to find three pieces of an Urn of the late Mr. Graves. And while doing this you had to avoid being attacked by a tarantula, a bat and the ghost of Mr. Graves himself. And the only help you had was the light from matches you had (The red button on the controller made an orange glow around the set of eyes representing you). But it was still allot of fun even though you had to use your imagination a little. 

That same year Gottlieb Pinball Machine company released one of the coolest pinball machines ever!

 It had three levels where the center was inclined and the flippers were reversed. Where you had to send the ball back up.

Then six years later 1988 I found a new video game called
I thought this was the end all be all coolest game ever! You get to be "Jason" or a close look alike and fight monsters in a haunted house!!!

Then after some research I had found the original storyline on Wikipedia.

Two college students, Rick Taylor and Jennifer Willis, take refuge from a storm in West Mansion, a local landmark known as "Splatterhouse" for the rumors of hideous experiments purportedly conducted there by Dr. West, a renowned and missing parapsychologist. At the mansion, the two are attacked by demonic creatures that drag Jennifer inside and fatally wound Rick, leaving him for dead.

Rick awakens in the dungeon of the mansion to discover that he is still alive thanks to the influence of the "Terror Mask", or in some versions, the "Hell Mask", a Mayan sacrificial artifact from West's house which is capable of sentient thought. The mask attaches itself to Rick, fusing with his body and transforming him into a monster with superhuman strength. With the mask's encouragement, Rick goes on a rampage through the dungeon and the mansion grounds, killing hordes of monsters. Inside the mansion, Rick finds Jennifer, prone on a couch and surrounded by a throng of creatures that retreat upon his arrival. After their departure, Jennifer transforms into a giant, fanged monster that attempts to kill Rick while begging him for help. Rick is forced to kill Jennifer, who transforms back to normal and thanks him before she dies. Infuriated, Rick tracks the remaining monsters to a giant, bloody hole in the mansion's floor. Upon entering it, Rick discovers that the mansion itself is alive. He follows a bloody hallway to the house's "womb", which produces fetus-like monsters that attack him. Rick destroys the womb, which causes the house to burst into flames as it "dies".

Escaping the burning mansion, Rick comes across a grave marker. The Terror Mask releases energy into the grave, reviving a giant monster named Hell Chaos that claws its way up from the earth and attempts to kill Rick. Rick destroys the creature, which unleashes a tormented ghost that dissipates into a series of bright lights. As the lights vanish, the mask shatters, turning Rick back to normal, and he flees as the house burns to the ground and the credits roll. However, after he leaves and the credits end, the Terror Mask reassembles itself and laughs evilly, staying there for 45 seconds, with the word, "END", appearing on the bottom right corner of the screen.

I think I spent about six future car payments in the arcade playing it back then.

Later in 1992 Sega had released the sequel to SPLATTERHOUSE
The game play was pretty much the same, but this time the story is Rick is beckoned by The Terror Mask to go back to Dr. West's mansion 3 months later. (How can this be? It burned to the ground after Jennifer's death and the destruction of The Terror Mask!) 
Turns out that in the original Japanese version this mansion is in the land of the dead and Rick is fighting to bring Jennifer back to the land of the living. He succeeds, but the curse of the West Mansion isn't done yet. 

This time in in "SPLATTERHOUSE 3" (1993) it's five years later Rick's married Jennifer, has a five year old son named David, does well on Wall Street and buys a mansion in Connecticut. 
Then Rick comes home one day to find his own mansion has been possessed much like Dr. West's was, but this time finds out the Terror mask is behind it all. The only problem is he only finds out about it after he's rescued Jennifer and David and has to fight the evil spirit of the Terror Mask.   

The game has more of a 3D feel this time and a timer for each level to complete. And if you fail to defeat the monsters and bosses in a certain time you run the risk of loosing Jennifer, David or both before the final battle. 

Another favorite released that same year was
 "Haunting with Polterguy"
This one was great because the whole objective was to scare this beyond nasty family out of every house they lived in. And the graphics were really impressive for the SEGA system back then.

Then one day in 2010 I find out that PS3 was coming out with a
 re release of SPLATTERHOUSE!!!

I was happy to hear about it, but at the same time I was like "What if it sucks?" I mean I love the SPLATTERHOUSE games and would really hate to see a crappy version of it out there. 

But this bad boy is far from crappy!

The story line is still pretty much the same where Dr. West 
 is the cause of all of the craziness in his mansion, but when you find his audio diaries it really adds to the creep factor. 
 Love the detail that went into the haunted house!

Jennifer is once again in danger and Rick gets the beat down of a lifetime, but is brought back from death with the help of the Terror Mask who has it's own motives.
and Rick gets back to work of returning the favor of a mega beat down. 

The game has an 18 and over rating (For some pictures of Jennifer you find during game play) but I think it was also for the fact of it was designed by people that discovered the game like I did waaaay back in 1988 for the first time.

There are so many hints of this that it's like getting to visit an old friend and kind of relive those years. Take what Rick is wearing before and after his transformation. I don't want to take away from the kids now, but I was wearing concert shirts, jeans, chain wallets and skater sneakers before allot of the kids now were even thoughts. Yup just like when I was playing the original back in the old arcade.

The Heavy Metal Soundtrack (A must have and would have been used if the audio were available during the SEGA era), And the artwork that was heavily influenced by the artist of "HEAVY METAL" (The graphic comic collection magazine) and the artwork of Frank Frazetta that was huge back then.

And there's influence of Friday The 13th, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Nightmare on Elm Street and The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II that were right there when the arcade version came out and those movies were at their peak at the box office. 
Not only was I treated to a virtual time machine, I had great game play and was able to unlock the original arcade SPLATTER HOUSE as well as the SEGA versions of 2 and 3 to play too if I'm in the mood. 

I have to say NAMCO really got it right with this one.