Namco's late-'80s slasher game, Splatterhouse, is now available for download and play on the Wii's Virtual Console. However, before you rush off to spend 600 Wii points ($6) on it, you may want to consider that it's the TurboGrafx-16 version, which is considerably less bloody and gruesome than the arcade version that you probably remember seeing back in the day. Furthermore, Splatterhouse is the kind of simplistic, repetitive beat-'em-up that you'll play for about 15 minutes before moving on to something else.
When it comes to beat-'em-up games, Splatterhouse shares the most in common with the simpler ones, such as Altered Beast and Vigilante. The action takes place on a single scrolling plane, monsters graciously hesitate before attacking, and your masked hero can jump, duck, and perform a couple of different punches and kicks. Every level also offers one or two weapons to pick up. Weapons don't add much to the gameplay, but they do let you splatter enemies in interesting ways. Ultimately, the problem with Splatterhouse is that there's not much to it. There are only seven levels, and you'll finish each one in just a few minutes. It can take a few tries to learn each level, but since enemies and obstacles appear in the same spots and attack the same way every time you play, you'll quickly figure out how to get through each level and tackle each boss relatively unscathed.
As for the graphics and audio, they're about what you'd expect for a game that was made early in the 16-bit generation. The backdrops are spooky, but there's not much going on in them. Likewise, the characters are large and frightful, but they move stiffly and without personality. Audio consists of a few thuddy hit noises, a couple of screams, and some background music that succeeds at being moody despite some obvious hissing and distortion.
If you have fond memories of Splatterhouse from playing it in an arcade, you may be disappointed to discover that this version isn't as gruesome as the original arcade game was. The most memorable aspect of the arcade game was that you could decapitate zombies with a bloody flourish using the meat cleaver. In the TurboGrafx-16 version, the meat cleaver has been replaced in most spots by a wooden two-by-four. This is a lose-lose situation. You can't chop off monsters' heads in the TG-16 version, and there's one less weapon to use as well. Many of the arcade game's more macabre details, such as the rotting corpses in the background, have also been toned down or removed. There's still a fair amount of gore to see, between batting zombies into walls and blasting them with shotguns, but the TG-16 game is mild compared to its arcade counterpart.
Should you choose to spend the 600 Wii points ($6) to download and play the TurboGrafx-16 version of Splatterhouse on your Wii, you'll find that the Virtual Console emulates the game without any noticeable problems. Also, since the game requires the use of only two buttons, it controls just fine using the Wii Remote. You probably shouldn't waste your money, though, unless you've played this version of Splatterhouse before and already have an affinity for it. This sort of simple quarter muncher is fine in an arcade setting where you can buy a few quick play sessions for pocket change. It's not so hot when you have to shell out six dollars to get what amounts to 15 minutes of fun.