6/25/2011 - 11:35 P.M. EST (final update): Happy tenth anniversary, West Mansion. From its humble beginning as a modest little fansite on on GeoCities to being used as the primary source of Splatterhouse info by Namco Bandai Games America during the creation of Splatterhouse '10, it's been an unforgettable experience, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.
That said, it's time to say goodbye.
One piece of news before I go any further: I've written what I believe to be the definitive article on the history of Splatterhouse '10, entitled "Requiem for Splatterhouse." Check it out here. Also check out a hilarious fangame by Rodrigo Shin that's a crossover between Splatterhouse and the cult classic film Manos: The Hands of Fate (famously shredded on Mystery Science Theater 3000 way back when) entitled "Manos" The Revenge of Torgo. Find it here.
Most of you know the story behind the site (or do you?): I started West Mansion on GeoCities back on June 25th, 2001. At that point in time, there were no other Splatterhouse fansites out there - something that I felt needed to be rectified, especially after playing Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti for the first time. My HTML skills were minimal, at best, but I wanted to get a Splatterhouse site out there. I also hoped that it might eventually become the equal of Kurt Kalata's Castlevania Dungeon, in terms of content. The majority of the scans I added originally were from my personal collection, which at that point consisted of the Turbografx-16 port of the original, the two Genesis games, and my recently acquired copy of WG. Every other image came from various online sources. I wrote up a quick review of each game, eventually slapped everything together and sent it out into the world. I applied for Classic Gaming hosting shortly thereafter. Once it was approved, the site got a basic redesign (which I'm still using ten years later) and a month after it opened, CG posted the news on their main site.
What happened next was totally unexpected. The Splat-fans started coming out of the woodwork, sending me additional info, fanart, fan fiction, pictures of rare promo items - you name it. The site continued to grow over the next few years, becoming the go-to site for all things Splatterhouse in the process. There was a brief period of downtime due to technical issues starting in late 2005 - actually, a whole year's worth - but in early 2007 I got the ball rolling again and the site grew even more, as all sorts of new info (and for the first time, complete fangames) had surfaced during that lost year. 2007 ended up being a great year for the site, but by early 2008, it seemed that the well was finally going dry.
Then the bombshell hit. Namco Bandai announced that a new Splatterhouse game was in the works in April of 2008. Right after I posted the news, I received an email from Namco Bandai:
Subj: Greetings from NamcoThat lone email kicked off a rollercoaster ride that lasted for two and a half years. Despite the shakeups that occurred midway through the game's development, the guys at Namco did their best to keep me in the loop, even giving me access to the press FTP server - and for a fansite webmaster, this is (as far as I know) unprecedented. They also invited me to check out the never-released-to-the-public demo, and fed me bits of information on the game, as well as letting me pitch my own suggestions, some of which were ultimately implemented. Did you see the "Be garbage of cesspool" graffiti on the walls in the game? That was my idea - and indirectly I was also responsible for the "BGOC" achievement title. The Biggy Man redesign? Heavily influenced by my suggestions, as far as getting him to look at least somewhat like the original (as opposed to this). There are a few other minor suggestions I'd made that were incorporated. They also did get a lot of use out of the info I'd posted here on West Mansion, from storylines to references (I was once told they had one guy who spent all of his time going over the site for info). As I'm fond of saying, traces of my fingerprints can be found all over the game.
During that two and a half years, I also served as the conduit between the fans and Namco, passing along complaints and suggestions - and believe me, the fans were not shy about letting me know what they thought at every step in the development. The producers did spend a lot of time poring over the forum for input as well. They were impressed enough by what they found to mention both West Mansion and the forum in the official press booklet.
Then the rollercoaster ride came to a sudden, tragic end, thanks to Namco Bandai Japan. Splatterhouse 10's advertising budget was cut, the entire team was laid off, the game was dumped on the market with zero fanfare, the major review sites trashed it due to lack of corporate payoffs, the lemmings couldn't make informed decisions as consumers and even bother to rent it to form actual opinions about it (preferring instead to hide behind the Call of Duty) - and as a result, it's been nearly forgotten. I was understandably disgusted by the whole thing. Just go back a few entries and read what I had to say, if you haven't already.
All that helped me arrive at a decision I'd been mulling over for the past couple years. You see, my desire to run any websites at all has been fading, and fading quickly. While I still love Splatterhouse and playing videogames, I have a family and responsibilities that I didn't have back when I first started my sites. Despite everything great that happened to me as a result of being the West Mansion webmaster, I really had no desire to keep going after the site hit the ten year mark. The failure of Splatterhouse '10 (and as a result, any future sequels all but permanently shitcanned) was the final straw for me. I had originally planned to hand the site over to someone else, so that it wouldn't die completely, but those plans are on semi-permanent hold at the moment.
So this is it. If I regret anything about West Mansion, it's that I was never able to add and fix everything I wanted to with the site before I left, including a complete site redesign. But I just no longer have the desire to do it. And to those that sent me stuff for the site that I never posted, you have my apologies.
I want to thank everyone that's supported West Mansion over the years. First, there are the fans I was able to get listed in the Splatterhouse '10 credits, the diehards that have been major contributors to West Mansion and regular fixtures of T3M: Mike Plasket, Dan Bush, Mike D. Wasion, Emmet J. Kiernan, Luke Dean, Robert Preziose, Steven Graff, Shane Calow, Marty Keating, Randy Schadel, Rodrigo Testa, Mike MacDonald and Nikki Muro. Then, there's everyone else that contributed back in the early days of the site, along with everyone else that's contributed anything to the site in the past ten years, everyone that's ever dropped a link to West Mansion on a forum, website or blog (etc.) and all the Splat-fans that registered on the forum and contributed to the discussions there. You all have my everlasting gratitude. Without you, West Mansion never would have grown into the site that it became. I'd also like to thank Sindra for the hard work she put into doing to the site redesign I asked for. I never did get to implement it, and I'm sorry I couldn't, but perhaps the future webmaster will be able to. I do appreciate it.
Extra thanks to former Light Sword Cypher Mainframe webmaster, Sam Roberts (aka Scion), and the webmaster of ScrollBoss, James Beaver (aka PrimeOp), for the all of the support and advice they've given me over the years. It's truly been appreciated.
Also, I want to give a final thanks to the Happy Video Game Nerd, for his great series of Splatterhouse videos and his continued support of West Mansion. I don't believe I mentioned his review of Splatterhouse '10 here before (my apologies for the oversight), but here it is. Also check out his other Splatterhouse videos, such as Gettin' Super Nerdy - Splatterhouse [Arcade vs Turbo Grafx 16] and the reviews that started it all, Splatterhouse Part 1 of 2 and Splatterhouse Part 2 of 2. And as always, thanks for the continued shout-outs to West Mansion, Derek.
Thanks to Rondal of Strange Kids Club for the continued support as well, not to mention being willing to work with me on the SKC Splatterhouse retrospective last year. Keep up the great work on SKC, Rondal!
I also want to give a thank you to my former co-webmaster, Len Clark. He was instrumental in keeping the site running for the first few years, as well as coming up with the intial redesign that got West Mansion hosted on Classic Gaming. Thanks a lot.
Also, a major, major thank you to Dan Tovar, Dave Wilkins, Tim Ng, Kit Ellis and everyone else at Namco Bandai Games America that worked on Splatterhouse '10. Dan, Dave, Tim and Kit deserve as many thanks as I can give them for including me in the development of the game, as limited as it was, as well as getting me everything they did for the site. I know it was done to keep excellent relations with the fanbase - I have no illusions about that - and they didn't have to do it, but they did it. So again, I thank you all. And to those of you that were laid off, I hope your fortunes have improved since, and I wish you all the best of luck. Thanks for making such a great game that I've thoroughly enjoyed.
And speaking of Dan, I have a final message from him in which he covers quite a bit. Take a look:
As the Terror Mask once said; "Wrong way, Rick-O".Food for thought at the end, I'd say - wouldn't you? Dan also had this to say:
[West Mansion] should never go away. When and if another game gets going someone will need all that knowledge and history. I know we did. Saved us an immense amount of time and research. Not that we didn't play the originals ourselves and spend hours and hours on YouTube and game sites, but you were the definitive version as far as I was concerned.Glad I could be of service. Thanks Dan!
The staff at Namco Japan that created the original three games and Wanpaku Graffiti deserve a special thanks as well, even though they'll probably never read this. If it wasn't for them, West Mansion would never have existed in the first place. So thanks to all of them for creating something that's brought enjoyment to so many people all over the world, not the least of which is myself.
And finally, to you, the anonymous Splatterhouse fan that browses the site or lurks on the forum but never contacts me, contributes anything or posts - thank you too. If you've enjoyed the site, I've done my job.
As a final thank you, I want to leave these directories here for everyone to take a look at. There is a lot in these directories that never got posted here, so feel free to browse them at your leisure. You're bound to find something you haven't seen before.
And with that, I bid you all farewell. Keep on splattering, everyone. Keep the spirit of Splatterhouse alive, like you have all these years. And never give up hope. Remember: "As long as that Mask remains... it can happen again."
- Rob "Stangman" Strangman, West Mansion webmaster 2001-2011
Artwork by Tanner White, originally sent in when I (temporarily) stepped down as webmaster on 4/21/2004. It seemed appropriate to post it here now.
6/6/2011 - 6:30 A.M. EST (latest update today): I've posted the first piece of fan fiction based on Splatterhouse '10: Koen Phoenix's Splatterhouse 2. Check it out over in the Fan Fiction section.
6/2/2011 - 10:45 P.M. EST (latest update today): I've been busy, hoping to have a new story - most likely my final piece of Splatterhouse fanfiction - ready before the 25th. I'm also working on one last feature article for Splatterhouse '10. So while you're waiting for those, why not check out the Mike Wasion double feature Biggy/The Obscene over in the Fan Fiction section? WARNING: much like the rest of his work, these stories are seriously twisted - and Mike has also included appropriate images and optional secondary audio tracks to enhance the experience. Enjoy...
5/22/2011 - 10:50 P.M. EST (latest update today): The countdown to the tenth anniversary of West Mansion continues. In lieu of news, I'd like to announce that three pieces of fanfiction are available in the Fan Fiction section: my short story Hunger, Mike "corpsemonger" Wasion's incredibly twisted holiday tale Christmas at West Mansion and the epic collaboration between myself and Mike, Splatterhouse: The Value of Flesh. Enjoy!
4/13/2011 - 12:30 A.M. EST (latest update today): Sorry for the lack of updates, but aside from the fact that there's been no news, I haven't felt like updating the site at all. Besides the fact that I've been going through a major personal crisis over the past couple months, I'm still disgusted over the reception Splatterhouse '10 received, especially by Namco Bandai. As a result, I've been distancing myself from the series for a bit, aside from playing my blood-red Wanpaku Graffiti repro that I got a little while back. Sadly, the original Famicom game is too long to fit inside an NES while attached to a Fami-to-NES converter, so if I wanted Wanpaku Graffiti action on my new NES (long story), I had to go the repro route.
Anyway, I'm kicking around a couple of final article ideas to post before I retire in June. We'll see how that goes though.
1/27/2011 - 8:08 A.M. EST (latest update today): Hey, Namco Bandai Japan, Splatterhouse fans all over the world want to know if you guys are going to make a sequel to Splatterhouse '10. So level with us! Are you?
Two seconds later:
Anyway, I wanted to bring up Dan "Shoe" Hsu's recent EGM editorial regarding Splatterhouse. He brings up many excellent points, both good and bad, but the thing is, unlike some other reviewers out there, he treats the game fairly. In fact, his is probably the fairest professional review I've seen. He lays it out for you, what he didn't like about it, and what he did. And you know, I respect Dan for actually having the guts to come forward and defend his position. None of those reviewers on Joystiq or Kotaku or IGN (etc.) would do the same, and as we've seen, at least some of those reviewers are being dicks toward the fans because they don't like the game. Those people we don't need.
That Dan actually brought up something that most reviewers would never do is somewhat surprising in this day and age. Did he have fun with the game, despite it's flaws? And does that reflect in his rating? Yes. Isn't that what it all boils down to in the end anyway? The question: is it entertaining? I certainly think so. So do a lot of other people. Yes, it has flaws. It has glitches. It, much like every other game out there, has its issues. Nothing is perfect. But if you're entertained by it, none of the issues matter. It won't appeal to everybody, but really - what does?
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I enjoyed Splatterhouse '10. Out of all of the games I played last year, it remains the one I've had the most fun with. And it's a game I'm going to keep playing as the years go on, much like the originals. I'll be playing it long after it's been forgotten by the reviewers that maligned it and the gaming public that ignored it. And why? Because I enjoy it. It entertains me.
1/14/2011 - 8:36 P.M. EST (latest update today): Happy New Year, all. I had some stuff planned for the first major update of the year, but due to a few legal snags, I'm unable to do what I wanted to do. But rather than dwell on that, let's move on.
Just checking real quick: you all know about the Lost Islands survival arena DLC? No? Well, hit up your marketplace of choice and check it out.
One thing I want to do is address the whole Splatterhouse debacle. Quite frankly, I'm pretty disgusted by the whole thing. It's been almost two months since the game was released and it's already been nearly forgotten - not that anyone really knew about it in the first place, aside from the fans. We can thank Namco Bandai Japan for that. Apparently sometime in the last six months or so, there was a shakeup at the highest level of management, and when the dust settled, the new guy - who by all accounts is Namco Bandai President Shukuo Ishikawa - decided that the future was iPhone games and porting stuff from Japan. Not only that, but then there was a major layoff at Namco Bandai Games America - layoffs which included nearly the entire team that worked on Splatterhouse, up to and including the faces of Splatterhouse '10, Dan Tovar and Dave Wilkins. All gone. That's a damned shame, as they're a bunch of very talented people and with the recession, now is not the best time to be out of work. I wish them all nothing but the best for the future.
And then, since apparently Splatterhouse was expected to underperform, all support for the game was pulled. Didn't see much in the way of advertising after the Playboy centerfold, did you? That's why. Splatterhouse was dumped on the market with no fanfare. All the hype and buildup toward release, the music festival sponsorships, the articles in major magazines, the high-profile E3 and PAX gigs - all of that ultimately meant nothing once support was pulled at the most crucial time for the game. Thanks, Namco Bandai Japan, you strangled this thing in the cradle.
This loss of support led to another thing. It's an open secret that game review sites give better scores when they get a payoff, usually in the form of advertising dollars. But when Namco Bandai Japan pulled their support, the Splatterhouse advertising budget got slashed to almost nothing. No advertising budget = no extra cash to send to these review sites. In retaliation, they gave Splatterhouse - a game that deserved at least average to above average scores - a sound thrashing and horribly low scores.
Yes. I just accused IGN, Joystiq, Kotaku, Gamespot (etc) of being greedy and vindictive against game companies that don't grease the wheels with a fat payoff, and I stand by it. They wouldn't know journalistic integrity if it came up and bit them in the face.
To this day, I have still not seen the bugs and glitches and framerate drops and everything else the big review sites say are wrong with the game, nor have any of the fans I've talked to. And consider this: other, smaller review sites and player reviews have consistently been in the average to above average range. How is this possible if Splatterhouse sucks as badly as the big review sites say it does? It's not. But because they didn't get paid, they felt it was their duty to trash the game instead of treating it fairly. And the problem with this is that a lot of the mindless sheep out there consider those sites "the authority." Hey, IGN trashed it, it must suck. No need to even rent it or borrow a copy from a friend and try it for myself and form my own opinion, right? I'll just go back to playing whatever IGN says is great, because they know what they're talking about. No question about that.
On a side note, the fuckers at Joystiq can blow me. It's one thing to trash the game in their review, but to be absolute dicks about it? Way to kick someone when they're down, you fucks. And let's not forget this giveaway, where they wanted readers to post a "more deserving" game than Splatterhouse to get revived. As forum regular Brick McBurly put it, "Their 'coverage' of the game so far smacks of 'Namco's only sent promo items but no check, and my panties are in a bunch over it'."
Ultimately, as a result of all of this, the fans are the ones who've been affected the worst. We're the losers in this whole situation. We finally got a next-gen Splatterhouse - one that lived up to most fans' expectations - after all these years of waiting, but it's a Pyrrhic victory. There's no way in hell that Namco Bandai Japan will sanction a sequel now. It's going to take another fifteen years, if not longer (or ever) before we see another game. And to put it bluntly, we've truly gotten shafted here. We're the people who waited patiently for years for a new Splatterhouse game. We've supported the franchise. We've kept it alive. We hoped and dreamed and believed that no matter what, someday it would happen. And when it finally did, we got our chances of seeing a sequel, any sequel, completely destroyed. To make matters worse, the franchise may have been killed permanently. Whether that's truly the case, or it's just gone back into a very deep hibernation, remains to be seen.
So in conclusion, fuck Namco Bandai Japan, fuck Joystiq, fuck IGN, fuck Kotaku, fuck Gamespot, fuck the mindless sheep that have to depend on someone else to tell them what to like and fuck anyone else that contributed in any way to Splatterhouse 2010's demise. To everyone except NB Japan, I hope your favorite game series die horribly without a chance of resurrection. To NB Japan, I hope you continue to post major losses and eventually have to declare bankruptcy (but may your employees, the ones that had nothing to do with this whole fiasco, get jobs immediately with much better companies).
Many thanks to those that believed in the game and supported it. I'm especially indebted to Dave Wilkins, Dan Tovar and Tim Ng (PR at Namco Bandai Games America) for everything they've done, be it keeping me in the loop the whole time, listening to the fans, giving myself and the fans credit & shoutouts in both the game itself and the official promotional materials or doing their damndest to create a game that lived up to the classics - all of which they did. They restored gamers' faith in an industry that otherwise pays more attention to marketing reports than the players themselves.
Yeah, it's been a major wall of text to wade through so far, but I'm not done yet, so stick with me here.
June 25th, 2011 marks the tenth anniversary of West Mansion. As of that date, I will be stepping down as webmaster of the site. Permanently. I won't go into all the details just yet as to why I've made this decision, but I will say that all things must come to an end - and eventually one knows when the time has come to pass the torch. Expect updates this year to be rather infrequent, unless some major news pops up. I'll be spending much of that time coaching the new landlord of West Mansion, getting him ready for his debut in June. Things may change when he takes over, but don't expect West Mansion as you know it to cease existing. Things may very well get a bit more exciting around here, provided that the new landlord lives up to his end of the deal.
That's all for now. But stay tuned in the coming months for more...