Tovar, Dan (Splatterhouse)
November 23rd, 2010, cannot get here soon enough for gamers! Why, you ask? Because that's when Namco finally delivers its latest iteration of the classic Splatterhouse to blood-hungry fans!
Recently our own Mr. Dark sat down with Associate Producer Dan Tovar to talk about the reimagining of this truly killer franchise! Curious as to what to expect? Get ready for the goods!
Dread Central: For those who aren't familiar with Splatterhouse, give us the lowdown on what we're in for.
Dan Tovar: Splatterhouse is a revival of the classic arcade game from the late 1980’s. You play as Rick Taylor, who was just a regular college student until he and his girlfriend, Jennifer, go to the West Mansion to meet the mysterious Dr. West. When they arrive, they are attacked by monsters, and Rick is left to die while Jennifer is kidnapped. During the scuffle an ancient Terror Mask is knocked into Rick’s blood, and it awakens an entity that had been trapped there for centuries. Rick puts the mask on after he is promised life, power and the ability to save the love of his life. He is transformed into a monstrous brute capable of enduring hell and sets off to find his girl and exact revenge on the man who killed him.
DC: Being a remake, can you tell us about some of the elements taken from the original three games that we can expect to see in the new title?
DT: We used the original Splatterhouse games as inspiration and direct reference while developing the update. We identified a number of critical elements that were iconic to the franchise and therefore were must-haves for the modern game. Settings, characters, weapons, moves and even music were all on the list. Players who loved the originals will no doubt recognize a lot of familiar elements while playing through the game. That being said, we wanted to be competitive and fun in today’s game market so there is a ton of new stuff for people to sink their teeth into.
DC: Based on the ESRB description, it sounds like this one really pushes the envelope for content in a game. Was there anything that wound up on the cutting room floor because it was just too extreme?
DT: For us it was a bit of the opposite. A lot of the stuff that didn’t make the game was stuff that was not extreme enough. We re-worked a lot of assets and elements to make sure they fit in with the wet and gory nature of the game. Some environments that would not be polished enough in time did not make it in. Some of the moves were just not brutal enough so those got left behind. Some weapons looked puny and insignificant in Rick’s monstrous hands so we had to move on. And some monsters themselves just didn’t seem nasty and savage enough to be a challenge to a brawler like Rick so they were dropped.
DC: We have to ask: The game started with BottleRocket Entertainment then moved internal. How much of that original effort still exists in the game today? Was it a total re-work in the last year and a half or so?
DT: There are definitely still elements from the original development still in the game. The story arc, characters and overall intention are still there. We did update the character art, level art and general design. There was a lot of re-work that went into making all the elements work together, and having two separate phases of development was quite challenging to say the least. But everyone worked hard in the end, and we are all proud of what came out.
DC: The original design back in the 80's for Rick had a very Jason Voorhees-like appearance, including the machete and hockey mask. Over time it evolved into the shirtless hulk and skull-like mask we have now. Were there any famous slashers or horror films you felt inspired by during the making of the new game? Any elements you tried to incorporate as homage?
DT: We actually thought about the monsters when we were working on the redesign of Rick. We knew that we had to move away from the Jason type character design and had thought that the bad guys in some of the monster movies always got to have all the fun. So we looked at some movies and comics and said why can’t Rick be the monster?
Characters like Hellboy and the Hulk are also powerhouses that get to wreck some serious carnage, and we looked to them to add some severe brutality to the character.
DC: The soundtrack to the game is stellar. How did you choose all the bands for the game, and how much did their music influence the game design, if at all?
DT: The game’s soundtrack was chosen out of my personal record collection for the most part. These are all bands that I have enjoyed over the years and had listened to while working on the concept, especially Mastodon and High on Fire. The music just evokes a very particular mood and atmosphere that inspires adrenaline. For a violent game such as Splatterhouse, it really goes hand in hand. The trick became how to keep the atmosphere in the mansion to be creepy still with that heavy sound blasting through your skull so we do have several types of music throughout the game. We have atmospheric moody music for the exploration sections, and then we even have tunes that are inspired by the classic games and horror movie soundtracks from the 80’s. Those tongue-in-cheek flicks have always been at the heart of what drives us to make a game like this.
DC: My traditional last question: What's your favorite horror movie?
DT: It’s always tough to pick just one. Re-Animator is up there. Dead Alive is beyond classic. The whole Evil Dead series is always in my skull. But I guess if I had to put one on the top, it would be American Werewolf in London. That one really scared the hell out of me when I was younger, and it still holds up even today. The transformation scene was just so over the top.
Look for the game in stores on November 23rd, 2010 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360! For more information visit Namco Bandai Games Online
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