15 seconds. 15 seconds. That's the amount of time spent between putting the Splatterhouse disk into your console and hearing your first squealing, crashing power chord.
And that, in turn, is evidence that Splatterhouse is probably in good hands. Namco Bandai understands what this franchise is all about. It's not concerned with action bubbles, non-linear storytelling or breaking the fourth wall (except, perhaps, with a shoulder charge). It's not even that bothered about 30 seconds of fun, endlessly repeated - it's happy to boil it down to five or six seconds.
The original Splatterhouse was an eminently level-headed gorefest, the first game ever to receive a parental warning, and the first game ever to play a pivotal role in a Jeff Bridges movie (it crops up in Fearless, somewhere between a terrifying plane crash and an even more terrifying attempt to woo Rosie Perez). It's a blood-soaked, giblet-filled, brain-dead exploitation romp, and very little has changed for this reboot. It's 15 seconds until your first power chord, then, and no seconds until the next one.
Um, story. In Splatterhouse you play as Rick Taylor, an average college student until an unpleasant run-in with a necrobiologist and a tricksy deal-making demon leaves him looking a bit like Bane out of Batman. For reasons I missed because I was surreptitiously eating the world's smallest donut - press events, eh? - Rick's girlfriend's been pinched, and he finds himself knee-deep in hellish monsters.
These monsters are everywhere: hanging from the ceilings or oozing out of the wall like scarlet Polyfilla. They even fit over Rick's face in the shape of the possessed mask he's apparently made some kind of Faustian pact with.
Narrative, though - and this is just a guess - probably isn't that important with this one. Splatterhouse is firmly aimed at the guilty pleasure market, and you can see that in its grimly comic visuals, its brutal, nerve-splintering finishers, and its joyfully calcified rhythm.
This is the kind of game in which you lumber from one ghastly room to the next, killing everything that gets in your way, before being given the opportunity to move on and repeat the whole process. There are some extremely simple puzzles to solve along the way - that's if impaling four demons on four spikes to open a door even counts as a puzzle - and regular interruptions from boss monsters, but not much else.
It's big stupid fun, in other words, and there's hardly anything wrong with that - not least because Splatterhouse looks like it actually might deliver on its very simple remit. Character models are huge and filled with nasty, slippery detailing, the environments are pleasantly unpleasant, and the camera knows when to move in nice and close so you can see every bursting vein.
Combos offer the normal blend of light and heavy attacks alongside grabs and throws, but you can also pull off special Splatter Kills when you're on a hot streak. They're not finished yet, so they currently look like a weird mishmash of placeholder animation and a Grateful Dead T-shirt my uncle Mike once owned, but I'd expect plenty of dismemberment and other comic mishap in the finished pieces.