The studio behind Panzer Dragoon: Remake has remade Takashi Oda's old arcade classic and unleashed the zombie army on Switch, but we're anything but impressed.
April 1997, my first trip to London and thus my first visit to Piccadilly, which was highlighted by the arcade inside that spanned three floors and featured 100s of games I threw money into. I remember the days in there with remarkable clarity and one of the games I spent the most money on was Sega's (at the time) light gun shooter: The House of the Dead. I remember what the arcade machine looked like, what the guns felt like, and how amazing I thought it looked, with that run-down city and all the roaring zombies covered in green goo hurling themselves at me.
Basically, House of the Dead was super simple, much simpler than Sega's other light gun shooter titles like Dynamite Cop and Virtua Cop. But yeah, it was good. Exciting, scary and very explosive. The pace was fast and the difficulty was ramped up considerably, making those arcade machines swallow coins like no other. 25 years have passed and the gaming world has, as we all know, changed in a lot of ways. Today, light gun shooters are a thing of the past and the genre is pretty much dead. Despite this, Sega has now decided to release a remake of The House of the Dead developed by Megapixel Studio (who are also behind Panzer Dragoon: Remake).
The basic problem with this game, for Switch, in the year 2022 - is that it lacks a physical gun and thus you play with your thumbs, and that is quite frankly completely useless. Playing a light gun game without a light gun is, for me, a bit like playing pool without a proper cue, it can work - but not very well. And that's where I end up when I try to sum up my opinions of this remake. Shooting using the Switch console's Joy-cons works, but it doesn't take long before I'm disappointed by this game and the pointless feeling it evokes in me. Now, I'm certainly not sure I'd enjoy playing 1996's The House of the Dead on Switch even if it came with a newly made light gun, but as it stands today I see no reason to play this version, at all. No matter how much you like the original game and how much you treasure your nostalgia-drenched retro memories of the 90s.
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The House of the Dead runs on rails, like all the old classic light gun games, but you can choose slightly different routes and paths by firing on the left or right side of the screen at a couple of specific times and that's probably the only choice the player has, apart from the choice to shoot zombies or not. The story itself screams Resident Evil with a virus run amok and terrified scientists who must be rescued from the flesh-eating monsters, and unlike 25 years ago, it no longer feels scary or exciting, at all. The graphics have improved but not enough, and the soundtrack leaves a lot to be desired. It's noticeable that Polish studio Megapixel had a much lower budget here than is usually the case these days regarding most retro remakes, and compared to other old Sega titles that have been given new life in recent years (Alex Kidd, Wonder Boy, Streets of Rage) this feels like a crappy free-to-play game, at best.
As an old gamer, I generally appreciate that old 80s/90s favourites are being revived today and that new players get the chance to experience the games I grew up with. However, this is not the case with The House of the Dead Remake, which I find to be an ill-conceived and strange project with lousy playability and crappy graphics.
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3 / 10
Zombies are always fun. Nostalgic music.
Miserable gameplay. Poorly updated graphics that feel cheap and old. Extremely short. Extremely monotonous.