A Different Take on a Classic
If you’re a parent, the odds are at some point you’ve wanted to introduce your darling child to the gore and spectacle that is the Splatterhouse series. It’s a rite of passage right up there with going to Disneyland. However, some may think that decaying corpses, monsters with chainsaw hands, and other horrors from the 16-bit days are a little too much for your precious preschooler.
Thankfully, Namco was thinking of the parents who want to expose their children to the horrors of the West mansion in a manner that will hold off the psychiatrist bills, at least for a few years. If you happen to have a Japanese Nintendo, otherwise known as a Famicom, you can send your little one on a Halloween journey they won’t soon forget, and it doesn’t even require any razor blade-laced candy apples…but those are always welcomed.
Japan Knows Best
Instead of going for the realistic look, or as realistic that could be achieved at the dawn of the 16-bit generation, Wanpaku Graffiti opts for a kid-friendly, cartoon vibe. The characters have large heads and big eyes, and plushies of them wouldn’t look out of place on a Hot Topic shelf these days. After playing this game, it makes me wonder why Disney never made a hockey masked character who wields a butcher’s cleaver.
The game is also a mishmash of pop culture. For example, some of the earlier bosses include a possessed “doll” named Reagan, and there’s even a mad scientist who gets into a transporter with a fly. An alien chestburster is also included, but the host seems fine once the battle is over. Of course, if you know anything about this game it’s most likely the Thriller dance scene with Dracula in the first stage.
Our Story Begins
The game starts with an opening scene of some bitch bawling her eyes out over a grave. Suddenly, there’s a crack of lightning, which almost blows the chick’s skirt up. Apparently, it pulls a Jason Lives, and our hero is resurrected. Watch out, though, as the Great Pumpkin from Charlie Brown is also brought back to life and kidnaps the hot piece of ace that was previously mourning our hero, Rick.
Dead men may not know much, but they do know if they wake up in a cemetery with a chick in a miniskirt pining over them, then they better do whatever they can to get her back.
A Playground of Horrors
Unlike it’s next-gen big brother, there’s a slight RPG element to SP:WG. After killing a set number of enemies, the player’s health gauge slightly increases. Sadly, this is not taken into account if using a password, which starts the player with the regular sized health bar, regardless of the level they select.
The game play is similar to the earlier Splatterhouse: walk from left to right and kill all the monsters in your way. There’s a bit more platforming to this game, but it’s nowhere close to a Mario title.
Upgrades come in the form of candy to regenerate a bit of health. There’s also a shotgun that can be found as an additional weapon, but it seems pretty infrequent. There are two orbs to be found in the game, too, if you want to unlock the true ending.
Banished to the Land of the Rising Sun
It may seem curious why this game remained a Japanese exclusive, but you have to return your mindset to the late 80s/early 90s, when video games were seen as traps of the Devil.
In the first stage, gravestones in the form of Christian crosses attack the player, which must be destroyed. I’m sure that would have gone over well with mothers who mistakenly bought this game thinking it was Sunday Funday.
Around the midpoint of the game, our hero wanders into a church to find a dark priest at the altar. During the fight, he transforms into a goat, which is symbolic of Satan. Obviously, this is nothing I would blink an eye at while dripping hot candle wax onto my nipples, but middle-American moms from three decades ago don’t share my sensibilities.
A Ghoulish Delight
If you have a budding gamer and want to find something you can play during the Halloween season, there are a lot worse options out there. This game won’t give your kids nightmares, but there are some parts that are a little too frustrating (fuck you, Mouse boss!), even for experienced gamers. Thankfully, living in the Internet age means that passwords to open up all of the game are readily available, and the bulk of the game can be experienced fairly easily.
If your kid has a ball with this, then my expert opinion would be to start them on the Hellraiser series of films immediately after and then Faces of Death before they go to bed. After all, they’re only young once.