Visions of nostalgic 8-bit asteroids are dancing in my head. The glorious wooden beast of retro gaming is back with a vengeance. Behold, the Atari VCS!
Growing up in the 80’s, chances are the Atari 2600 was the first gaming system to sit alongside your Sony STR-414L AM/FM Program Receiver and massive wooden console TV. And even more probable was the fact it was a shared toy between you and your siblings, resulting in arguments over who had first play dibs on Haunted House. Which, in turn, may have resulted in you throwing that heavy as a bag-of-kitty-litter-lumpy shit joystick (at least it felt that way anyway) at your little brother’s head after he threw one of his obnoxious tantrums, thus winning the first round of 8-bit gameplay.
Or, maybe that was just me. Eh, I’m sure you guys have similar stories too.
In any regard, the Atari console is the epitome of gaming nostalgia and with news coming last year on the half retro console, and half modern platform reboot of the system releasing for public consumption soon (or so we thought), all the sweet smells of that joystick rubber grip came flooding back like a waterfall of E.T. cartridges hitting the city dump. With a delay back in December of this anticipated console for retro gamers, earlier this week at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, a proper name was given to Atari’s dive back into the gaming market. Behold, the Atari VCS!
Image via cnet.com
While most of the details surrounding the modern-looking childhood relic remain somewhat of a mystery, we did get a look at the two controllers that will be available with the system (seen above). While one resembles the original stick of turmoil with a modern twist, the other mocks an X-BOX feel. Which I would assume would make gameplay just a tad easier. Hey, it’s what we’re used to these days, am I right? In addition, Atari did say that the Atari VCS will be built around a custom Radeon GPU and will be capable of running Linux offering an array of classic Atari games along with a “new video computer system to change the way you interact with your TV, just as the original Atari 2600 Video Computer System first did more than 40 years ago.” via Forbes.
Whatever that means…
Other than that vague explanation from Atari reps, an announcement will be made sometime in April on pre-order dates, and hopefully, some more details on this mysteriously modernized wooden-top piece of gamer fuzzies.
When the Nintendo Entertainment System finally made its glorious US debut in the late 80’s, all of us kids just about lost our shit at the video game quality coming from this grey box of sorcery. Retailing at the time for the Action Set (NES Zapper, two controllers, and the Super Mario Bros./ Duck Hunt duel cartridge) for now what seems a mere $149.99 just in time for the 1988 Christmas holiday, sold nearly seven million systems that year. And according to this splendid video below, blowing that number out of the water 2 years later with a whopping 90 million NES systems bought in 1990.
That’s a lot of virtual dead ducks. Fantastic.
So yeah, one can only imagine the headaches retail workers had to endure concerning the new system that every one of us damn kids HAD to have, (it’s cool, I was one of them). Most likely no different than the average migraine customer service deals with on a daily with those “customer is always right, consumers“. But hey, as time has told over again throughout the past 30 years that when a new system comes out, you better damn well be prepared Mr. Electronics section of Wal-Mart. And after a few years of booming sales from the system, Nintendo thought they would do the retail workers of America a favor and make a proper training video for handling consumer complaints and ridiculous customers involving returns with the NES. This includes any bullshit scammers attempting to nab a refund after some careless kids spilled soda all over the control deck.
Oh yes, that’s actually in there. “What are you supposed to do? Tell them what you really think? Of course not!”
And that’s why folks, yours truly could never work a successful retail position.
Anyways, I couldn’t help but laugh especially at the bit about the blank color screen issue WE’VE ALL experienced at one point due to a bit of dust settling inside the deck. Clearly, this guy never figured out the “blow and go” solution. And guess what? 30 years later it’s still 100% effective. Which brings up an excellent point: The Classic Nintendo I have sitting in my house is getting dangerously close to that age bracket and still works like a dream. Just goes to show the highest quality built into that little sucker.
But hey, it’s 2018 and if you’re having any issues with your NES, all your answers can be answered right here in this handy retro video uploaded by Retro Games TV Commercial HD!
Do you like blood, guts, and a whole lot of gore? Does horror make you all hot and bothered in all the right ways? Have you ever wanted to pick up a 2×4 and splash some zombie faces all over the wall? Well lucky you, because your ole buddy Manic has a sticky treat for you.
Kick off your shoes and get cozy because I’m bringing you some splat-tastic fun.
You see, there’s a legend around here among gamers. A legend of a demon-haunted mansion sitting between the reality of our world and the dimension of infernal terror. A Hell-house in the mist just daring you to put on some big-boy(girl) pants and come play with the older kids as you explore the many caverns of mayhem and sadism. It’s the old West mansion, a shunned abode better known as the Splatterhouse.
Backstory to Splatterhouse
Here’s all you need to know as a player. A horde of drooling ghouls has stolen your gorgeous girlfriend right after spilling your guts all over the floor. As you lay in the hot sticky pool of your own fluids you watch the howling deformities take off with Jennifer with you-don’t-even-want-to-know what kind of plans in mind for her. The minions of Hell have just flipped you off, pissed in your iced tea, and they think you’re a big ole douche bag. Well damn, it all you’re not gonna put up with that! Lucky for you the Terror Mask (an ancient Mayan occult relic infused with a forgotten god) has taken a shine to you and saves your life. Not only that, but he’s given you unspeakable powers that would make the Incredible Hulk run home crying for his mommy. Now you get to go punch the heads off of the gruesome assholes who infest the West Mansion. 2×4’s, chainsaws, and plenty of boomsticks are left at your exposal as you make the game live up to its raunchy name SPLATTER-house. The legions of Hell await you, but you’re a badass mother fucker and can take whatever the house throws at you.
In case you can’t tell I love these games! This is old-school horror fun at its finest. Most of our favorite horror movies are – right to their cores – lots of fun. They don’t take themselves too seriously, at least this is true for many slasher movies: they were made with a fine balance of scares and laughs.
And one of the biggest influences on the Splatterhouse franchise is the Slasher genre.
The most obvious reference can be found in our lead character Rick. As a matter of fact, back when I was a kid and first saw the game being played I honestly thought this was a Friday the 13thgame, and honestly, it made the game way more exciting. A game letting the player take control of Jason?! Oh Hells yeah! But alas, I was wrong and would have to way some 20+ years on Gun Media to give me Friday the 13th: The Game. However, by its own merit Splatterhouse is a thrilling experience and needs to be played.
Back on topic, Rick is clearly based on the titanic slayer Jason Voorhees. The Terror Mask alone bears some insane similarities to the iconic hockey mask. I mean who can rightly deny that? And if you compare the original arcade’s design for Rick with Jason’s look from Parts III or VII, well it’s blatantly obvious someone was a Friday fan.
This is a series truly made by horror fans for horror fans. As you make your way through the Splatterhouse franchise merrily busting open oozing heads please be sure to keep a keen eye peeled for all those amazing scary movie references.
Along with Friday the 13th being obviously referenced, one particular boss fight just can’t help itself but smell like Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
This is Biggy Man, an abomination with two chainsaws for hands, and no wonder he’s so mean! How does he take a piss? So yeah, I’ll admit the chainsaws are the glaring TCM reference, but if you look closely you’ll see our pal Biggy Man is also wearing a sack over his head, and kinda reminds me of (once again) Friday the 13th Part II’s ‘tater sack’ Jason.
Some more classic horror references can be seen in other boss fights too. For example, in one battle you’ll find yourself in a room where every single piece of furniture hates your guts and wants to see you dead as you fend off bouncing chairs, a portrait of a giant eyeball, and knives that are way too happy to throw themselves at you. The entire sequence is very heavily inspired by Poltergeist.
The creature feature Deadly Spawn finds itself immortalized in the game’s franchise as well.
Some of my favorite Easter eggs can be found in 2010’s Splatterhouse remake. For instance, and admittedly the saddest cameo in the whole franchise is found from the Evil Dead. On the gore-encrusted tiles of a filthy room, you’ll find the discarded and very lifeless body of everyone’s favorite wise-ass, Ash. This is when you get to use the boomstick for the first time in the game, a sad but fitting farewell to a very groovy hero. Hail to the King, baby.
Another level is entirely based on the beautifully haunting cult-classic Wicker Man. I admit this is one of my all-time favorite movies so I was geeking out during this section. It’s a race against time as you fight through hordes of demons to get closer, ever so slowly closer, to the menacing wicker-built figure standing silent and cruel atop the distant hill. And thank God there are no bees anywhere in sight!
One of the biggest Holy Shit moments was (fittingly enough) in the boiler room. Now who could be connected to a boiler room, hmmm I wonder? Now if you rush through here you might sadly miss it. But if you have a keen eye and have been taking in all the sights so far you just might be lucky enough to see a familiar hat lying near the furnace. You’ll also find a red-striped sweater hanging above that hat. And just in case you’re thinking it’s all a coincidence you’ll also find that wonderful glove of his, the claws dark with past kills. That’s right, my lovelies. Without any doubt, Freddy Krueger is part of this series.
The most glaring reference found in each game of the series is the Cthulhu Mythos. Lovecraft’s influence permeates the franchise and grows stronger as the series expanded. The main antagonist is Dr. West, as in Re-animator’s Dr. West. Some stages in the 2010 remake depict a world entirely given over to ruin by (what we can only assume is) the awakening of Cthulhu who has brought madness and destruction to the planet. At one point you’ll find a gargantuan size tank housing a massive abomination that bears a striking resemblance to how Lovecraft detailed his beloved Cthulhu. The West Mansion is similar to the Shunned House. Rick must encounter altered dimensions, battle madness, and fight humans who have been malformed by forbidden contact with ancient evil powers from beyond the stars. Along with all that the 2010 game revolves around the stars and their alignment, which will unleash old evils that have been waiting in a cosmic prison. That is pure Lovecraft.
At one point Dr. West even shouts, “IA IA! Cthulhu Ftagn!” during one of his rituals.
As if all that wasn’t enough to get you revved up to play these games, can you tell me what other game out there gives you the opportunity to chainsaw some creepy babies during a boss fight?
I honestly don’t know why Splatterhouse gets lost beneath the fandom waves of other horror titles such as Resident Evil or Dead Space. When the game’s remake was released in 2010 critics went out of their ways to hate it. But what’s even worse, most people listened to the critics and avoided the game as if it were diseased. The 2010 remake is far from perfect, but it’s certainly not a bad game. Not in the least! It’s a very good game. It’s meant to be enjoyed in the same way you’d enjoy any great 80’s scary movie. Do you think critics were kind to movies likeNight of the Demons, Madman, or Cannibal Holocaust? Of course not. Those movies weren’t made for snobs though. They were made to be enjoyed by fans of the genre, and the same is true for Splatterhouse.
Are enemies reused in some stages? Yes. Are the mechanics same-ol’-same-ol’ from one level to the next? Sometimes. Nevertheless, these issues don’t make the game bad or ruin the experience. Each level does offer a new array of demons and mutants to fight. The boss fights are each unique, and the levels themselves are just a lot of fun to play through. I take my time and explore while I play. The game is easy to learn and still challenging, but not enough to make you rage quit…that much.
I instantly fell in love with it. It’s a masterful throwback to so many horror classics. The gore is over the top and kept me laughing. One kill-move, in particular, has Rick punch his way up a demon’s ass, go elbow deep, only to then pull out its rectum. OUCH! Buah ha ha ha ha ha ha!!! The bastard had it comin’ though.
The best way to really experience the games is to get yourself a copy of the Xbox 360 or PS3 Splatterhouse. The remake includes all three original games – including an uncensored version of the initial arcade game. Even if you hate the 2010 game you’ll still have the original trilogy to enjoy.
Already the games have proven to be a horror fanatic’s dream come true as it offers one of the most comprehensive and detailed horror-fan experience out there.
This has been Manic Exorcism. Thanks again for joining me on this retro journey. Happy gaming everyone!