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Lost in Translation: The Splatterhouse Series

Ever wonder why certain things in the Splatterhouse storyline change from game to game? Ever notice things that just don't add up between installments? Well, Rodrigo Shin and his friend Felipe "Dios" (webmaster of the One Piece site Romance Dawn) recently started work on a very ambitious project: translating all of the known Japanese information on the original four Splatterhouse games. Their translation work sheds a lot of light on what what was changed when the games left Japan, and answers many long standing questions about the storyline and monsters. I'm proud to present the results of their hard work here, and I'd like to thank them both for the awesome work they've done. Enjoy!


Alright, let's get it on with the bloodbath. Starting with this post I'm going to do the translation on all Splatterhouse enemies whose names I've been able to find at whichever japanese source (which will of course go credited) and elucidate differences between Japanese and Western canon. I wasn't going to do Wanpaku Graffiti at first, but at Rob and corpse monger's request I'm going to start out with it - because if you're going to be inclusionist to the extreme, Wanpaku Graffiti is a prequel to Splatterhouse. Without further ado...

Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti

Year: prior to Splatterhouse; 1988(?)

The plot: Jennifer is mourning at the grave of her boyfriend, Rick, when a thunderbolt strikes the grave and not unlike one entry in the Friday the 13th franchise, Rick comes back to life, already sporting the Hell Mask. Jennifer is delighted, but a second bolt strikes the grave next to Rick's and the villainous Pumpkin King ("Pumpkin Daio", where "Dai" means great and "O" stands for "Ou", "Oh", which can be either King or Emperor - so either you ride with "Pumpkin King" which is simple and works, or call it Great Emperor Pumpkin. I find Pumpkin King to work better) snatches Jennifer away. Rick takes off in pursuit with an axe. After Rick's venture through the wacky, horror movie parodying stages, he eventually defeats the Pumpking King and rescues Jennifer - to what we're revealed that it was all a movie. Then after Rick leaves the set the Hell Mask begins laughing and displaying some unimpressive telekinesis. However, if the two crystal balls are gathered during the game, we're shown Rick and Jennifer about to enter the Splatterhouse - just like in the arcade game, long before the "parapsychology majors" bit came into play (so their attires aren't really that discrepant with what they're supposed to be). So if you're going to put this game in the plotline as well, I guess you'll have to ride with the fact that aside from being parapsychology students, Rick and Jen also ventured in the acting business. As for the Hell Mask... either you don't weigh that particular scene canon value, either you have to go with it being dormant and just showing it's true colors after everyone leaves. How it ended up in the West Mansion later? Beats me, but the Mask doesn't seem to have a problem moving around anyway (after all it already floats around to attach itself to Rick's face in the first place).

The bosses and homages (names and info acquired at WikiJP's Wanpaku Graffiti page; the manual found here in West Mansion had no bestiary or boss section for the names to be checked).

Stage 1

Area 1

Boss: Zombie Corps

Nobody who's been born at least in the eighties could miss the obvious referrence to "Thriller", even if it's freakin' Dracula who's coordinating the whole stunt. And the bastard even has the guts to flip you the bird before going underground again. Laugh while you can, asshole, some Belmont is soon going to kick your ass (yet again, and considering we're in the 20th century that ass got kicked a lot).

Area 2

Boss 1: Poltergeist Bookshelf

The reference is named after the boss itself.

Boss 2: Kachyuka and Poltergeist Chair

I'm guessing "Kachyuka" is just a Japanese term for doll, not one I'm familiar with (I'll check it soon as I can, then I'll edit this accordingly). Anyway, it's a pretty obvious parody too: a play on The Exorcist along with yet another Poltergeist phenomena.

Stage 2

Area 1

Boss: Chicken in the Kitchen

These are apparently a parody of a Japanese horror movie, or of something that was already a parody of a horror movie... I can't translate it properly, but the Wikipedia article says something to that extent. It's a batchload of Kanji, so it's trickier to translate. It seems to be a nod to something from Japanese culture, anyway.

Area 2

Boss: Big Mouse

No further info on him being a homage or whichever given.

Stage 3

Area 1

Boss: Alien

We're all very aware of which movie is this boss parodying, but besides the facehuggers, here is an interesting tidbit; the japanese page claims the girl whose chest is burst out by the aliens is Ki (read as "Kai"), from the Tower of Druaga series. It's also a Namco game, so it's possible. I don't see much of a strong resemblance between the two, besides the tiara - which I first thought to be just shading on her hair. But here, take a look and judge yourself:

- the girl from Stage 3

- Ki in her own spinoff game

Ki and Gilgamesh, the first protagonist for The Tower of Druaga series also appear in Namco X Capcom. And hell, the series even got an anime spin-off this very year, despite it's distant debut in 1984. The series is still ongoing and the studio responsible for the animation even decided to stream the episodes online for viewing. If you weren't aware of this and like the first games, definitely check it out.

Area 2

Boss: Black Hircine

"Yagi" apparently stands for "Hircine" or "Goat" (which are practically the same). The page just says that the sorcerer is heretical and that he turns into the Black Hircine because it's the symbol for black magic and such and all that stuff that the Catholic Church decided to demonize when they were builting their own antagonists and etcetera from other people's religions.

Area 3

Boss: Human Fly (still got to check this name out better)

As we all know too, a parody of The Fly movie.

Stage 4

Boss: Burning

The Japanese Wikipedia page names the boss that way and says that he is a direct homage to the killer of the homonimous movie. I haven't seen The Burning, but chances are is that the killer is always in the shadows to justify the... blackness, for the lack of a better term... of this boss. Curiously, The Burning is also appointed as a source of inspiration for one of the precursors of the Survival Horror genre, Clock Tower (which is a fucking good game, might I add), since the killers share the same weapon - a pair of shears. Just that in Clock Tower's case, they are garden shears. Gigantic garden shears. The Japanese page also acknowledges the difference in weaponry from the homaged assassin and the game's boss, with its forks and knives.

Stage 5

Boss: Wolf Man (Ookami Man)

Honestly, plain werewolf works just as fine. The page claims that the boy is actually the protagonist of Yokai Douchuuki (or Shadow Land), a game also by Namco developed before Splatterhouse, just as is the case with The Tower of Druaga homage. Despite having an English counterpart, it is stated that the game never saw a western release because of it's "questionable content" (one of the game's endings involves going to hell, and the whole game takes place in the japanese conception of hell). The boy is named "Tarosuke" and also appears in Namco X Capcom. Here's the arcade flyer for the game:

I really don't see much of a resemblance between the two characters... except the blue shorts. So I'm guessing that this bit about the characters being the same was either given in a gamebook or elsewhere, if not fabricated completely. So I'd say take this one with a grain of salt.

Stage 6

No Boss

Stage 7
Boss: Pumpkin King / Great Emperor Pumpkin

Rick's nemesis in Wanpaku Graffiti. Apparently no homage on this part, either.

Next up: Splatterhouse, the one that started it all - plot, enemy names and whichever translations pertaining to the enemies that I can manage.