The West Mansion Interview with
Dan Tovar of Namco Bandai Games America

There's not much time left before Splatterhouse hits store shelves. With that in mind, I decided to see if Dan Tovar, the game's producer, would be willing to answer one more Q&A before the game hits. He agreed to take some time out of his schedule to do so, and answered the following questions. Hopefully these will give a lot of you the answers to questions you've been having about the game.

Rob: How has the touring been going? I know you've been all over the U.S. promoting the game; besides E3, there was the SXSW show, the Revolver Golden Gods show in L.A., the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival XII (thanks again for having me there) and probably some others I'm forgetting.

Dan: The PR tour has been going great. The fans are the best part of getting out there and showing the demo. People like yourself that have been waiting for this game for so long and can really appreciate all the hard work that the team has put into this thing really make it worthwhile.

Rob: I have to say, the three-pronged marketing approach you've taken for the game has been nothing short of genius. Instead of just marketing Splatterhouse to gamers, you've also aimed at horror fans and metal fans. It certainly makes sense, given that Splatterhouse caters to all three groups nicely. Was this something that just seemed like the logical thing to do from the start, or did it evolve as the scope of the game did?

Dan: The three main aspects to Splatterhouse have always been: 1) Bloody, brutal violent monster action. 2) Kick-ass Heavy Metal and 3) Gnarly gore and a savage horror setting. Having those 3 pillars standing tall early on really allowed us to build the marketing plan around those aspects and target other audiences. There is a lot of cross over between the three but there is also a good deal of group specific stuff that we were able to do.

Rob: Are there any plans to release a soundtrack CD? Considering the amount of bands that have been signed for the game, it seems like it would be a good idea, even as an mp3 download via Amazon or the iTunes store.

Dan: We are still evaluating the possibility of a Soundtrack for Splatterhouse but canít confirm anything yet. Letís just say that there are some very complicated aspects to doing something like that because of all the intricacies of securing all the rights for the music. That being said we all really want to do it if we are able, so we are looking into whether it will be possible or not. But regardless, all of the bands deserve your support. If you like the soundtrack please get out there and pick up some CDs, records, shirts, patches, hoodies or whatever and show some love to the guys who dream up those insane songs.

Rob: Are there any plans for a deluxe edition here or in Japan?

Dan: The deluxe edition was not possible this time around.

Rob: Are there any upcoming contests or giveaways we might be able to get a heads up on?

Dan: Keep checking back on the Facebook site for Splatterhouse for new contests. I know we are planning to do lots of these right up until launch so you should be able to pick up some sweet swag.

Rob: If the game hits it big, sales-wise, would producing a Splatterhouse live action movie be a viable option to look into?

Dan: We have already been approached by a few different studios about doing a movie. This is all very much in the conversation phase but I personally think the property is strong enough to garner a full length film.

Rob: Any word on when a playable demo might be released?

Dan: A playable demo was not possible given the tight development schedule.

Rob: How's the box art shaping up?

Dan: The box art should be visible online through our Pre-Order partners like Best Buy, GameStop, Kmart and Amazon. I think it is pretty sick though. I have never seen box art quite like ours. It is surprisingly bloody even though it had to be approved by ESRB and the red really makes it POP off the shelves.

Rob: Can you give us an idea as to how many in-game homages there are to the previous titles in the series? The "Retro" trailer showcased several that were very enthusiastically received by the fans; can you drop a hint or give us an exclusive as to one that hasn't been seen yet?

Dan: You will just have to play to see all of the homages. There are a ton though; homages to the originals, to horror movies, to bands and albums and to the team itself. All in all there is a lot of fun stuff to find.

Rob: Can you reveal any more information about the variety of enemies?

Dan: The 3 main categories of enemies in the game are: 1) Dr. Westís experiments 2) The creatures of the Abyss and 3) the denizens of Earth that get corrupted by the energy of the Abyss. All of these creatures will attempt to stand in Rickís way.

Rob: Can you give a rough estimate of how many weapons will be available?

Dan: Including the body parts that you can rip off the enemies, there are dozens of weapons in the game. Bludgeon weapons, bladed weapons, projectile weapons, the chainsaw and the shotgun are the specific weapon types.

Rob: Will we be looking at any branching pathways in the game? How about multiple endings?

Dan: There are areas to explore but not necessarily branching pathways. The game is all about chasing Dr. West to get your girl so you are almost always hot on his trail. We did toy with the multiple endings idea, but we wanted to be able to have continuity while contemplating any possible sequels that might arise, so that lead us down the path of a singular ending.

Rob: Was there a single element in the game that had to be fought tooth and nail for to be included due to anxieties from the censors or higher-ups in Namco? If so, what?

Dan: Keeping the classic games as free unlocks within the game was something that I fought to keep in the game. A lot of other people wanted to use them as DLC or XBLA/PSN downloads which would have cost more money to the players. I really wanted to be able to give those back to the fans of the originals as a bonus for all the support. It is also a great way to expose the new generation of players to these fantastic games that they might not be aware of. The decision to keep them as free unlocks went back and forth a number of times before it finally was settled and I am proud to say that I was able to do that for the fans.

Ironically, some people here in the company also did not want to ship with a heavy metal soundtrack, even though it was one of the three base pillars that we had designed the game around. So that is another aspect that I fought for.

Rob: What was the most difficult specific segment of the game to design? Anything you kept redesigning until you got it totally right?

Dan: The Splatterkills were somewhat difficult to design as the expectations of what the player would be seeing and doing were quite high. We went through a lot of iterations on a single kill before we expanded the system out to the other characters. We really wanted to the player to feel like they were right there in fight crushing heads and ripping limbs off and getting covered in blood the whole time. We eventually decided we wanted to Splatterkills to have the analog stick movements tied to the actions and to have the background drop out so you could focus on the kill. Then we pulled the camera in real tight and dropped the audio. I think it really pushes the brutality to the forefront in doing so.

Rob: Which section in the game do you believe is the most difficult and/or infuriating to play through?

Dan: Difficulty is purely subjective so it is hard to say. There are some enemies that are tough due to their fighting style or amount hit points. And there are some platforming/sidescrolling sections that some people find tricky. It really depends on your style of play and whether you like a challenge or not.

Rob: Were there ever any plans to include Wanpaku Graffiti alongside the three classic games?

Dan: We did discuss Wanpaku Graffiti and whether to include it or not. In the end we chose to focus on the original three games as they were more in line with the feel of the game we were creating. WG was a departure from the original style of Splatterhouse and as such did not really seem to fit.

Rob: Are there plans or is it possible for any Splatterhouse characters to be involved in other game series, either solely Namco-owned series or perhaps in any crossovers?

Dan: You will just have to wait and see. This has definitely come up, but I canít say in what regard. But I think it is safe to say that it would not be in a Pac-Man game.

Thanks to Dan for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer these questions, and thanks to Namco Bandai Games America for agreeing to the interview.

Namco Bandai Games America: http://www.namcobandaigames.com/
Official Splatterhouse website: http://www.splatterhousegame.com/

This exclusive interview is © 2010 SCAR Productions.