Forever Entertainment, the studio responsible for the good HD remake of the Sega Saturn classic, Panzer Dragoon, is back with another remake. This time for the legendary light-gun shooter, The House of the Dead.
A horror-themed rail shooting game, The House of the Dead was developed by Sega AM1 and released by Sega to arcades in 1996. It was later released on Sega Saturn and PC in 1998, has spawned several sequels and a live-action big-screen adaption, directed by Uwe Boll.
It’s considered a classic arcade shooter that many will have nostalgic memories for, but nostalgia does blind, and the game is 26 years old as of the time of this remake.
A fast-paced story, you take on the role of AMS agents Thomas Rogan (and G in co-op) who have been sent to investigate the mansion of genetic engineer Dr. Curien. The doctor has gone a bit mad and been doing some seriously questionable experiments. As you arrive, all hell is breaking loose as the zombies, mutants and so much more, are running amok. You must make your way through the mansion, killing everything in your way, and stop Dr. Curien from unleashing his ultimate weapon on the world.
It’s a fun story that makes little sense (why was your girlfriend at the mansion?) but fits the arcade feel of the game perfectly.
In fact, Forever Entertainment have done a good overall job of replicating the arcade experience on the Switch. The House of the Dead is still thoroughly entertaining with a ton of challenge, plenty of wacky enemy designs, satisfying gunplay, tons of cheese (that voice acting), secrets galore and several endings to unlock.
All of this nailed because all of this existed in the original game. Which brings us to the things that are new. The things that make this a remake.
Being rebuilt from scratch, Forever Entertainment have given The House of the Dead more than a shiny new coat and it’s notable in places, mainly the lighting and colour. That being said, the visuals aren’t mind-blowing.
That’s forgivable but what isn’t is the performance and goodness, The House of the Dead has some issues. It crashed twice before we could even get to the main menu and we had multiple frame-rate issues where it seemed like it was going to crash again. The juddering is horrendous and resulted in scientists being shot or us taking a hit because the game couldn’t keep up. All this, while the Switch was docked.
That leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Which then brings us to the most important thing about this remake and that’s the controls. This is a light-gun game and this is the Nintendo Switch.
How do you replicate the experience of a light-gun with the Nintendo Switch controller? Handheld, docked, detached Joy-Con or Pro Controller? Nothing sounds like it will work that well. Though the switch does have gyro controls and in theory, that would seem the best way to play it.
However, our experience found it be the most frustrating way to play. Constantly having to recalibrate and suffering a cursor twitch that made precision aiming near-impossible. This was way worse when using the ‘ZR’ trigger button to shoot then compared to using the ‘A’. In the end, after suffering a few too many deaths that felt unnecessary, we switched to using the control stick and had a much better time.
It still has its issues, feeling far less ‘arcade-y’ and with sensitivity problems, but at least we were able to make it through the entire game this way. Of course, playing this way means reactions are less quick and fluid and this is a game that needs quick reactions. Though, you can spend a few minutes messing around with the default settings to make the experience a bit better for yourself.
Does having to do all of this take from the fun? A bit but there’s no denying that once you’ve made the game work for you, you’re going to have an old-school blast.
The House of the Dead: Remake (Nintendo Switch)
The Final Score - 6.5/10