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Splatterhouse producer talks blood, guts and paying homage


Controversy is not new to games, but few tend to attract it as eagerly as the upcoming Splatterhouse remake. Following our E3 preview of the game, we were unsure if Namco Bandai's effort would be little more than fodder for your local news looking to stir up viewers. I chatted with producer Dan Tovar at Comic-Con last week to find out if there's more to Splatterhouse than blood, guts and a sensational headline.

"I was a huge fan of Splatterhouse since as far back as I could remember," Tovar told me. "Played the crap out of all three of the original games back in the '80s and '90s, and so when I came to Namco years ago, they were looking for concepts to get going in the next couple of years. I asked them, 'Are we going to be able to do old properties?' and they said yes. Splatterhouse was on the top of my list, so we just went to work trying to get a concept together, and it just snowballed from there."

Gallery: Splatterhouse (5/24/10) | 10 Photos

The game's gimmick is its gore, and when I told Tovar his game was disgusting, he replied with an appropriate, "Thank you." Namco Bandai's working with the ESRB to "maximize our M" rating, and it sounds like the team is looking forward to a little controversy.

"We anticipate a certain amount of that, but the game is called Splatterhouse. It evokes a very particular expectation, and you can't have Splatterhouse without the amount of wetness and blood that we do." And that means turning up the gore, Tovar explained. "There are definitely some of the splatter kills that we had that we didn't think were brutal enough. You want that impact -- at the con, you see a lot of people when they get into the splatter kills, they're like 'Oooh damn, look at that,' which is what we're targeting."

The splatter kills are gory -- spines are ripped, guts are spilled and there's lots and lots of blood. I asked what Tovar's team decided not to do in the game, and he said they were drawing the line at sex, of all things. "We try to stay away from any kind of sexually-themed stuff." Then again, I told him, Dante's Inferno didn't pay much attention to that line. "Yeah, they got away with it," he replied. "So where is the limit these days? I think games are pushing the limits, and people are ravenous for it. I don't know what that says about us as a society, but there's a market for it."

At the same time, it's difficult to make a hit game out of controversy alone, and Tovar claimed that the development team is also working hard to tune the game's action mechanics in an attempt to appeal to a more general audience.

"Games are pushing the limits, and people are ravenous for it." - Dan Tovar, producer

"That's where the action game elements come in," he explained. "We're not trying to re-invent the wheel, so you can pick it up and play it and it feels very at home if you play a lot of action games."

"We wanted to do a whole 3D action, balls-out, let's do it -- let's do it big and do it right," Tovar added, saying that Namco Bandai had not considered doing a total throwback side-scroller. A secondary game was considered, however, "kind of like Bionic Commando with Rearmed" -- instead, all three of the original games were added as unlockables. Additionally, about "five to ten percent" of the main game will be from a side-scrolling perspective. "Obviously, we have to pay homage to the originals, and we have to make sure that the fans -- because they're a ravenous and voracious bunch that have been keeping it alive long term -- that they're getting what they want."

The Splatterhouse Comic-Con demo was the same bloody mess we saw back at E3, but work continues as the game nears its fall release. We'll soon see if that's enough time for Namco Bandai to build a strong enough skeleton to support all the gory insides.

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