It’s Halloween and I decided to do some MobyGames screenshot recon on two appropriately themed games. Inspired by Benj Edwards’ recent vintage scan, I decided to try out an entry in the Splatterhouse series. Further, I sprung for the iPhone version of Resident Evil 4: Mobile Edition, the most expensive iPhone app I have purchased to date (a whopping US$7).
First up is Splatterhouse for the NEC TurboGrafx-16. For the uninitiated, this series revolves around a slight modification of the classic slasher horror movie formula– the hero of the game (Rick, apparently, though the game itself doesn’t see fit to name him) is actually the machete-wielding, hockey mask-wearing, nigh-unstoppable killing machine. His target is not a camp full of teens but rather a house filled with ungodly abominations in which his girlfriend is being held captive. The graphics are decent for the early 16-bit video gaming area. There are a few rooms with many mirrors and I think you know what that translates to in a supernatural action game:
Yeah, that reflection is going to jump out of the mirror, many times over.
Rick’s weapon of choice is a large stick that happens to be laying around in most levels, which is a good thing because this big burly dude is unable to carry the stick while climbing up ladders to different levels. Different levels seem to have signature weapons that are highlighted in the level card, like shotgun, spears, and machetes. Even though he’s only the stage 3 boss, this chainsaw-handed monstrosity is easily the most menacing thing I saw in the game. The fact that Rick is facing off with him using a shotgun makes it perhaps the most badass scene in the entire game, even if the chainsaw sound effects were lacking.
In fact, many of the boss battles are quite creative, especially in level 2 when Rick fights a haunted room in what I dubbed The Ikea Nightmare:
You have to dodge falling debris, then fight a floating chair, 3 floating knives, and finally the painting. Oh, and don’t be standing under the chandelier because that will fall before it’s all over. Several boss battles have a “One more thing…” moment, so you have to be on your toes while the game still gives you control of the character.
While the game sticks well to a haunted / gory mansion motif, the decor grows incongruous at the end of stage 4 as I thought the character had just stumbled into Dracula’s castle. In this seemingly interminable hallway, Rick finds a golden machete as well as a gaggle of disembodied heads revolving around an inverted cross.
This confused me somewhat — is the inverted cross supposed to be an evil symbol? After a little digging, apparently, it’s construed to be an evil symbol to some. But compared to the rest of the horrors in the mansion, if you have to explain why this one particular artifact is evil, it’s probably not doing its job. Though I’m thinking that having the heads revolve around the number “666”, or worse yet, fighting a bunch of flying “6”s would have seemed ultimately hokey (not unlike fighting the giant Decepticon symbol in the Japanese Transformers NES game).
All in all, this was a lot of fun. It was a lot of trial and error in the classic side-scroller sense, but still enjoyable. Then again, remember what I’m used to doing for the sake of this blog — playing forgotten, obscure, or just plain bad games that no one else wants to bother with, all in order to fill gaps in the database. It’s nice to play a more famous and generally better game every now and then.
Then there’s Resident Evil 4: Mobile Edition. I’m a fairly big fan of the Resident Evil series in general and I qualify the 4th installment as one of my very favorite action games. And I have to give credit where credit is due — RE4:ME on the iPhone is quite the technical achievement and will wow disbelievers who doubt what the iPhone can do in the graphical department. (This illustrative screenshot is just a prerendered cinematic, though.)
All that said, I really don’t like RE4:ME. The game allegedly follows the primary flow of the original game, only dumbed down slightly given the limited input facilities of the iPhone. And those limited input facilities are really the rub here.
Honestly, I have had this same problem with a lot of iPhone games. Sure, you can touch the screen and you can tilt or shake the unit, but that doesn’t necessarily help with many different types of games. Such as this. Here, the player must use the touch-directional pad on the left to move and then use the context buttons on the right to switch to different modes (aiming vs. moving vs. using knife). Manually reloading the weapon is performed by shaking the unit which is a nice touch once you get used to it.
The beginning of the game starts Leon in an enclosed village area reminiscent of the original village from RE4. First, Leon can practice blasting the possessed Spaniards, slashing item boxes, and picking up items. After knocking off enough enemies, the first chainsaw dude appears. Even though I had already collected the shotgun, I couldn’t take him down. This was exacerbated by the fact that there are still many other enemies coming at the player at the same time as Mr. Chainsaw. It’s not effective use of the 6 shotgun shells to use them on the lower level goons and it’s unwieldy to constantly switch between weapons.
Plus, the very detailed graphics are on a very small screen and it’s quite difficult to focus on them for extended periods without growing fatigued or suffering from a headache.
At the Apple App Store: