The House of the Dead: Remake Nintendo Switch Review

The House of the Dead is finally back, but can an arcade light gun game really work on Switch?

By LG18, Posted 25 May 2022

I have to say, and I was surprised to see a remake of SEGA’s The House of the Dead on Switch. The light gun genre mostly died off with the arcade as a whole, and to an even greater extent with the replacement of CRT TVs to LCD panels.

There were a few attempts to bring back the genre to home consoles, including notable examples from this series in particular. The Wii’s motion controls presented a better alternative to a mouse or an analog stick, but they were a far cry from how these games played on the original cabinets. Even these were short-lived, and since the Wii, the genre seems to fade further into obscurity with each passing year.

The House of the Dead: Remake, Nintendo Switch, Review, Boss Fights, Gameplay, Forever Entertainment, Maximum Games, MegaPixel Studio, NoobFeed

But alas, enter The House of the Dead: Remake, the first chance fans have had to play the original game out of the arcade since those god-awful PC ports, and indeed, the first big-name Light Gun title we’ve seen in ages. It’s far (far) from perfect, but as a huge fan of the series, I can’t help but enjoy it anyway.

The game has been visually remastered from top to bottom, and it retains its arcade feel on account of environments and character models not being overly detailed. Even though the graphics themselves look like they could’ve been from two generations back, they’re far superior to the rough, polygonal approximations of the original. Having said this, it would’ve been nice to be able to toggle between the new and old graphics: despite their datedness, fans still like them, but given the mechanical overhaul, I can see how that wouldn’t have been feasible (although, it would’ve been appreciated to have the option to select the original game separately).

I think the aspect the developers hit upon best with the remade visuals is The House of the Dead: Remake’s most important feature, the Zombies. Each is suitably horrifying, topping even that of the original House of the Dead 2 fiends. Bosses particularly stood out, with each reimagining both faithful and respectful to the original designs but having extra presence thanks to the more realistic models.

The mechanics are much more satisfying, too; physics simulations are now involved when you shoot a zombie, and they’ll rag-doll appropriately depending on where you shot them. As was a series staple, their bodies are also destructible, with their skeletons showing through as you pump them full of lead. At the risk of sounding like a psychopath, I was a little disappointed by the degree of blood on display; however — the spurts and splutters are quite unsatisfactory compared to the comical red-fountain displays we got in the original.

There’s also a new Horde mode. Here, the player is thrown back into the main levels but with fifteen times more zombies to fight, a welcome addition for those looking for an extra challenge and not the only feature to promote replayability.

The House of the Dead: Remake, Nintendo Switch, Review, Boss Fights, Gameplay, Female Character

There’s ‘photo mode,’ enabling players to take snapshots of the sharply rendered new zombies in all their undead glory. There’s a gallery mode where you can examine character, enemy, and weapon models. It was fantastic to look at the new designs more closely, but I’d also have liked to see models from the original game here. My favourite remakes are those that offer a modern alternative to a classic game whilst also celebrating the original, but there’s not much left from SEGA’s 1996 hit in this release.

Overall, though, nearly all the changes in The House of the Dead: Remake were good. The game even offers a newly revamped scoring system that you can choose to use or not, and it actually goes a fair way in changing up the way each segment feels.

The problem is, it’s not enough to get by on objectively reasonable remake features. The mechanical changes and additional new modes are where the good aspects end due to one crucial problem: the Switch Joy Cons are not Light Guns.

As you’ll undoubtedly guessed, the game enables you to either use the analog sticks or gyro controls to aim. It goes without saying that the former is a seriously subpar option for any Light Gun shooter fan, and unfortunately, the gyro controls are not a vast improvement. Gyro crosshairs were accurate 80% of the time, but that’s not really good enough in a game that necessitates the reaction times of a fresh-water crocodile.

The glitchiness of the controls wasn’t as big a problem on the console-ready new difficulty modes of easy, medium, and hard. Still, they critically handicap the player on Arcade mode. Sure, they’re better than trying to fumble around aiming with the sticks, but compared to the Light Gun, everything feels significantly slower.

And having put my controller down after several hours, that was my lasting thought about The House of the Dead: Remake. How can you possibly make a successful remake of a game that’s key quirk hinged upon a piece of technology we can’t use anymore? Initially, it was a rhetorical question, but I did happen upon an answer.

The House of the Dead: Remake, Nintendo Switch, Review, Boss Fights, Gameplay, Forever Entertainment, Maximum Games, MegaPixel Studio, NoobFeed

This should’ve been a VR game. The platform is the only setup that can truly actuate the thrill of Light Gun gaming, and considering the success of shooters like Pistol Whip and Pavlov, The House of the Dead: Remake would’ve felt right at home there.

Somehow, though, I did still ultimately have fun with the game. Wistful longings for my Dreamcast Light Gun aside, I can’t deny it was a thrill to return to a game I hadn’t played in about 15 years, and as a remake, it’s good. The game was still as tense as it had ever been, and I appreciated the fact that they’d kept all the terrible dialogue, camp characters, and insane boss designs.

A remake of the second game has already been confirmed and with that game being my personal favorite, I’ll certainly be picking it up, but I’ll be the first to admit this setup isn’t perfect. As with all games, there are things you like and things you don’t, but not having a Light Gun in a Light Gun game is always going to be a problem. Let’s hope we see a VR release later on down the line.

Linden Garcia,
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, XBSX, Switch
Publisher(s): Forever Entertainment S. A., Maximum Games
Developer(s): MegaPixel Studio, Forever Entertainment S. A.
Genres: Third-Person Shooter
Themes: Horror
Release Date: 2022-04-07

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