Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti
Release: July 31st, 1989 | Developer: Now Production | Publisher: Namcot
Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti is an true gem. The game, the third in the Splatterhouse series after the original arcade game and the subsequent PC Engine port, was released in 1989 by Namco. It is from the Japanese school of super deformed chibi-styled side games, such as Konami’s Akumajō Special: Boku Dracula-kun (Kid Dracula) and Capcom’s Mighty Final Fight.
Don’t let the cutesy graphics fool you, this game has some disturbing imagery scattered through-out, making a North American release a certain impossibility. Take for instance decapitated corpses falling from trees while hideous heads are left hanging from their nooses, devilish alien worms busting forth from a school girl’s chest and solemn parishioners looking on as you battle a possessed goat before a satanic idol in a catholic church.
The story starts as all Splatterhouse games do, with your untimely death and the abduction of your beloved girlfriend by some manner of ghoul or devil worshipping sodomite. You are brought back from the dead by the powers of a possessed Jason Voorhees-esque mask and you set out in search of the aforementioned hell-spawn (represented in this incarnation by a floating Jack-o-Lantern) to rescue your lady friend from it’s diabolical clutches.
The name of the game is platforming, in the vein of Ghouls n’ Ghosts and Adventure Island. You progress through four large and varied stages en route to the final confrontation in “Hell House on the Hill”. The jack-o-lantern has the guts (amirite?) to taunt you at the beginning of each stage, which adds some unintentionally hilarious phrases such as “BE GARBAGE OF CESSPOOL” and “DIAMOND LAKE, GHOST COMES HERE WITH A RAY”. The former being an obvious Friday the 13th Crystal Lake reference.
Speaking of horror movie references, this game is absolutely choked with them. Everything from David Cronenberg, Evil Dead, Brian Yunza’s Re-Animator. Ridley Scott’s Alien and the Exorcist get paid loving tribute throughout Wanpaku Graffiti’s sprawling world.
The game is straight up action platforming that sees you use your trusty butchers’ knife to hack through spooky graveyards, haunted houses, possessed cabins, cursed lakes and slimy sewers in search vengeance. Snuck in with the tightly controlled platforming is a rudimentary experience point system that sees you get gradual health increases the more enemies you kill. If you die once it’s game over, but this is offset by level skipping passwords and a limited number of continues.
Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti has two endings, one of which is a hidden ending you can see if you find a secret branching path. I won’t spoil the either of them, but I will say that final scene in the game is a masterpiece of meta self-referential genius.
I cannot recommend this game enough, especially if you are horror movie buff or simply love weirdo Japanese video games.