Following their revival of Panzer Dragoon back in 2020, Forever Entertainment are back once again with a long dormant SEGA franchise that fans have been itching to see return. This time it’s The House of the Dead that gets the remake treatment, with developer MegaPixel Studio re-building it from the ground up to offer an experience that authentically captures the spirit of the original whilst giving it a few modern features and a fresh lick of paint.
It’s actually pretty fun to play too, though the lack of a light gun as well as the technical limitations of the Nintendo Switch do hold it back from offering nostalgic greatness.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
The House of the Dead: Remake puts players in the role of AMS agent Thomas Rogan as he looks to bring down the villainous Dr Curien and his undead creations at his laboratory, all whilst rescuing his fiancée from the dead as well as the many innocent scientists that find themselves fighting for their lives. It’s a silly but fun plotline that does more than enough to justify the constant shooting of the undead, whilst the cheesy script and voice acting feel very befitting of the era in which it came from (the original game released back in 1996 which makes its twenty-six years old at this point… man, I feel old).
The gameplay feels just like the original game, with players embarking on an on-rail shooting journey through four different levels as they blast away at zombies and the other monstrous creatures that inhabit the Curien Mansion. It’s all about quick reactions, careful aiming, and tactical reloading, with the screen often filling with zombies that need to be dealt with. Enemies have weak points that will take them out quicker (something which is especially important with boss battles), whilst there are also instances where you’ll earn bonuses if you manage to save the roaming scientists from a zombie attack. Basically, it feels just like a light gun shooter from the 90s, so if you enjoyed those (The House of the Dead included) you’re sure to have a fun time here.
Whilst it captures the essence of the 90s light gun shooting genre in its gameplay, there’s one thing it can’t perfectly re-create: the light gun itself. Instead, players can either use gyro controls to aim or simply move the cursor around with the left-stick.
“Using gyro controls is the best way to experience The House of the Dead: Remake on the Nintendo Switch and the closest you’ll get to replicating a light gun with the console.”
The gyro controls actually work pretty well, even if they don’t feel as weighty or satisfying as holding a light gun itself. It’s accurate, it makes it easier to line up quick shots, and it’s fun – sure, there’s a weird sense of recoil with each shot you make that seems to lose a bit of accuracy, but I managed to play through the game using the gyro controls just fine and even managed to get a pretty good score. Using gyro controls is the best way to experience The House of the Dead: Remake on the Nintendo Switch and the closest you’ll get to replicating a light gun with the console.
Moving the cursor with the left stick, though? It’s not great. Not only is it difficult to move the cursor fast enough to get to the varying targets that hit the screen, but it also takes away from the authenticity of re-creating that classic arcade experience. On the flip side, it could also make the game too easy, with some boss battles proving to be a piece of cake seeing as it was easier to focus on their weak point when using the left-stick without any worry of maintaining a steady aim.
It’s the only way you can control your gun when playing on the Nintendo Switch’s handheld mode, so it’s not an ideal experience. Don’t get me wrong, I managed to play through the game handheld and I didn’t have a bad time, but it was nowhere near as fun as playing on the big screen and actually feeling like you’re holding a gun. If you’re planning on playing The House of the Dead: Remake exclusively on the Nintendo Switch’s handheld mode, it’s worth knowing that it’s probably not the best way to experience the game.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
It’s also worth noting that the performance can be a little jittery, with a few frame rate drops occurring on a regular basis in the midst of the action. It is possible to switch to a ‘Performance Mode’ which stabilises the frame rate, but this comes at the expense of the visual fidelity with some blurrier textures and less detail found in the world. In fairness, there’s nothing unbearable across either mode and they’re both playable, but there’s no ‘best of both worlds’ option that gives the game real consistency. The loading times are a little lengthy too, with some fairly long waits to be expected between levels and when booting up the game.
Despite its flaws, I still had a lot of fun with The House of the Dead: Remake. The old-school shooting gameplay still feels as good as it did in the 90s, the over-the-top cheesy action kept a big grin on my face, whilst the new additions such as the additional difficulty levels and Horde mode were a lot of fun to play through. I was a big fan of the visual revamp too – whilst it’s not necessarily the prettiest remake you’ll ever see, there’s still plenty of detail to be found in the grotesque enemy models and eerie environments that help strengthen the game’s horror vibe.
The House of the Dead Remake Review
The House of the Dead: Remake proves that light gun shooting is STILL a lot of fun, even if there is a lack of an authentic light gun to play with…
It’s still neat to play with the gyro controls though, whilst the revamped visuals, all-new additions, and the simple satisfaction of blasting away at zombies ensures there’s plenty of entertainment to be found in this cool little remake.
It’s not ideal to play on the Nintendo Switch’s handheld mode and there are some performance issues, but Forever Entertainment have managed to deliver another enjoyable take on a classic release. It has imperfections, but it feels good to re-visit the House of the Dead once more.
Developer: MegaPixel Studio
Publisher: Forever Entertainment
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed)