Freeware Game Pick – ‘Shooterhouse’

Konami’s Hideo Kojima once suggested that rather than adhering to the standard laws of biology, he was 70% composed of movies, as opposed to the usual quotient of H2O. If this unusual logic were applied to Renard Queenston and his bootleg/mashup game-dev ‘label’ SILLYSLARDY.JPG, we’d probably find that he’s at least 70% videogames from the early 90s. The other 30% is electro beats.


Combining these two elements leads us to Shooterhouse, his (somewhat delayed) Halloween project. Shamelessly plundering Namco’s divisive and astoundingly gory Splatterhouse series, the slow-moving brawler gameplay has been repurposed into a shmup, and it plays just about exactly how you’d expect. Uncompromising and brutal difficulty, a focus on memorization and a whole lot of horrible monsters to chew into kibble before the credits roll. It’s not deep, smart or subtle, but that’s fine – Renard himself describes it as a ‘guilty pleasure’ game, much like the originals.


Shooterhouse isn’t particularly smart or deep, but it’s good, gut-drenched fun. Playing as the now-disembodied Terror Mask and making your way through the haunted West Mansion, you move in four directions and blow stuff up with a single fire button. You’ve got a big chunky hitbox, and 3 (or 5, if you opt for Easy mode) health points to get through each stage. There’s a very basic powerup system – while your main gun can’t be upgraded, there are temporary pickups such as a spinning aura of chainsaws and a pair of floating shotguns.


The levels are short, the music is loud, the difficulty is high (those without sufficient caffeine in their systems might want to opt for Easy mode), and there’s a lot of pretty nifty little graphical effects going on here, including TV static bursts that seem to convey the idea that this is a bootleg knockoff of Splatterhouse, and some very 90s scaling and warping effects used in later levels. It’s all very nostalgic if you grew up playing these games, although it doesn’t really adhere to modern shmup design rules, so it might leave some cold.


In a break from tradition, Renard himself didn’t produce the music for this one, but rather Japanese hardcore outfit Sampling Masters – an obscure name, but one steeped in videogame history, as this wikipedia page explains. Going straight to the source, it seems – you can probably expect some authentic (albeit modernized) sounds from someone who has been producing videogame music for Japan’s biggest studios since 1987.


It also looks like Renard is ramping up his game development efforts, in addition to churning out what seems like an album a week. While you can find more information on his personal Tumblr blog here, the big news is that he’s deep into two more projects. Another Sampling Masters tribute in the form of ‘HIGH-JAM SPEED DEMON‘, which seems to revolve around giant guns and gratuitous, androgynous butts…


…and a sequel to his popular avoid-em-up Dash-Da-Dash DX, which looks nearly complete judging from this gameplay video. Contains giant randomly generated mutant bosses, some sharp character designs from his partner in crime Squeedge and an FM chiptune rendition of Gangnam Style:


So, fun times to look forward to in the coming weeks, and Shooterhouse to keep you challenged until then. It’s not easy or even particularly fair, but as a fan of Splatterhouse back in the day, I can’t say no. Download it, give it a spin and have fun. It won’t cost you a buck. The game is for Windows PCs, and should run on just about any hardware, netbook or above.


A geek for all seasons. A veteran of early DOS-era gaming, with encyclopaedic knowledge of things geeky on all platforms. The more obscure and bizarre, the better. If you've got indie news you want to break in a big way, send it this way!

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