HIDDEN DETAILS:Thanks to forum regulars serjio and Dark V_Alis for all of their hard work uncovering this information, and to XenomorphSpit for bringing it to our attention originally.
That it may be more than just a random oddity was first brought to the attention of everyone on the forum by XenomorphSpit, who asked on 2/27/07 "Also, did anyone see that blue 'orb' that comes at you in the scene in level 5 where that ghost/skeleton is making a bunch of corpses come back to life over and over? If you keep it going for a long time without killing that skeleton, this orb appears and kills you. Just thought I'd mention it since I didn't see it on the WM site."
Naturally, news of some hidden bit in the game that I'd never even heard of (which is why it hasn't been here until now) caught my attention immediately. On 3/5/07 I put the following info from XS up in the Tips & Codes section: "There is a blue 'orb' that comes at you in the scene in level 5 where the necromancer is making a bunch of corpses come back to life over and over. If you keep it going for a long time without killing the necromancer, this orb appears and kills you. To make it happen you have to hit the necromancer a few times (5 should do it). Then keep backing all the zombies off for a few minutes. It doesn't take too long." (note: I have removed that tip from the Tips & Codes section now that this section is up)
And that was all we had on it, until later the same day Dark V_Alis provided us with our first look at the orb:
"However, I've only been able to get this happen once so far. Most of the time I try to avoid killing the Necro, eventually it'd just leave the screen and the zombies would all vanish, letting the screen scroll forward from the area it stops at. I also didn't touch the Necro at all for the time the orb showed up (zero hits). I was hanging near the left side of the screen for the 'successful' attempt, if it matters.
"Perhaps this 'timer orb' shows up in any area where the 'purple mist of death' doesn't chase you (aka most boss fights except Biggy Man and the Boreworm room since that's just an endurance fight). It'd probably be easy to test on the Poltergeist room when just one knife is attacking."
After seeing proof of the orb's existence, one thing became obvious: more research needed to be done. Nearly a month passed with no new info on the orb, until today (4/4/07). Out of the blue, serjio posted the results of research he'd been doing on the orbs, and did he come up with some great info. Thanks to him, you now have the secret to making the orbs appear. Read on, and all will be revealed to you. Also: it's possible to make up to eight orbs appear at once. With that in mind, here's what serjio uncovered:
This orb shows up after a predetermined time after the area loads. Then, 15 seconds after the orb shows up, another orb shows up. Then, after another 15 seconds, another shows up. This keeps happening until there are 8 visible orbs on the screen.
I really have no idea what the purpose is of these orbs. But here are my two guesses:
A. It's a way to make sure you die after a certain time, no matter what, so you don't hog up the machine. (Although there are only a few places that you could theoretically survive long enough to see an orb or two.)
B. During the development of the game, it was possible to stand idle for a long time, being killed by neither the mist nor the enemies, so the orbs come to make sure you die.
I've made a list of the times it takes for the orbs to show up in a given area. Here it is. Times with a * are approximate, and may not be exact.
Stage 1-2 (BOSS Boreworms)
Stage 2-3 (BOSS Poltergeist)
Stage 3-1 (BOSS Biggy Man)
Stage 3-B (Under the bridge)
Stage 4-B (ALT PATH: Boreworms)
Stage 4-3 (BOSS Evil Cross)
Stage 5-2 (Jumping Hands)
Stage 5-B (ALT PATH: Water)
Stage 5-C (ALT PATH: Necromancer)
Stage 5-D (ALT PATH: Kennel)
Stage 5-3 (Paintings)
Stage 5-6 (BOSS Jennifer)
Stage 6-1 (BOSS Heart)
Stage 7-1 (LAST BOSS)
That was a mouthful! On a side note, sometimes if you wait a really long time, monsters will come at you! (Even during boss fights!) Usually it will just be a zombie. But sometimes it's something else.
Also, another important piece of info about the orbs: The orb countdown timer appears to only count down when you aren't scrolling the screen. This doesn't seem to apply to auto-scrolling screens like the flooded water areas or mirror rooms (for example). In these areas, the timer seems to always count down.
Dark V_Alis immediately followed up with another pic of the orbs in action, along with that damn mist invading the Jennifer Demon's room:
And going back to the tips Miha originally sent, you can now see that the "blue spirit" that was mentioned and the blue orbs are the same. With the info provided by serjio, it may be possible for you to pull off the high score trick that Miha had sent, which again, can be found in the Tips & Codes section.
There you have it. Now go fire up Splatterhouse and check it out for yourself.
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