Splatterhouse 3 takes place five years after the events of Splatterhouse 2 and is another horror-themed beat ’em up with gruesome enemies and bosses, except this time with slightly different gameplay.
Rick and Jennifer have married and had a son called David. Rick has become successful on Wall Street and bought himself a large mansion, and it is this location that The Terror Mask has invaded, taking Jennifer and David prisoner. Once again Rick must battle his way through waves of opponents to rescue both his wife and his son.
The game has six different levels, but instead of the linear side-scrolling action of the previous games Splatterhouse 3 features the exploration of individual rooms throughout David’s own mansion. After each room has been cleared of monsters a map can be brought-up showing which rooms Rick has already been to and where his target lies. The target room usually contains a boss that Rick must defeat to continue the search for his wife, Jennifer. In between rooms cut scenes come up, showing the growing peril that his wife and son are in.
One new addition to Splatterhouse 3 is the ability to transform Rick into a more muscular and monstrous version of himself, by collecting orbs that fill up a meter on the bottom of the screen. When the meter is full pressing the ‘a’ button will turn Rick into a more powerful being for a short period of time, allowing him to move more quickly and make more powerful punches and kicks than as his normal self. Well, as ‘normal’ as a hockey mask-wearing, monster-beating beefcake can be… Other new additions are ghosts that will take weapons away if Rick drops them; the ability to grapple with and throw monsters, which is funny, and new moves such as headbutts and spin kicks.
Splatterhouse 3 has four possible endings, depending on whether or not you were able to rescue Rick’s wife and son. Rescue both and you’ll get the ‘good’ ending. Fail to rescue either and you’ll get the ‘bad’ ending. Save just one of either and you’ll get one of two different ‘bittersweet’ endings. Rescuing Rick’s wife and son is mostly down to timing. If you run out of time Jennifer will be killed on the first level, so it pays to be on the ball and quick about getting to your targets. It’s worth noting that the first boss must be beaten within the time limit on the first stage, otherwise it’s curtains for Rick’s wife. The same applies to his son also. These are not easy tasks, but the sense of relief you get from succeeding is palpable (and, conversely, failure is disappointing).
Splatterhouse 3 was only ever released for the Sega Megadrive/Genesis and it was developed by the same company (and mostly the same individuals) as the second game – Now Production. It was released in Japan and North America in 1993 but never got an official European release.
Personally, Splatterhouse 3 is my favourite game in the series and is easier to play than the arcade original, and more involving and interesting than the second game. The ‘race-against-time’ element of the family rescue gives the game some impetus and the room exploring and orb-collecting also add an edge to the gameplay. Being able to pick up and throw monsters is also good. The only real downside is the missed opportunity of having simultaneous two-player gameplay, but then again: Rick’s storyline possibly wouldn’t have allowed it (although his brother could maybe have gotten involved). Overall, though, Splatterhouse 3 is still fun to play now, which is all you can hope for in near thirty year-old video game.
There were more games in the Splatterhouse series to come, although not until the original was re-made in 2010 for the PlayStation 3 and XBox 360. I’ve yet to play that game, but I do know that the first three Splatterhouse games were all included as unlockable extras in the 2010 remake.
See also: Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti.