If you're a fan of light gun shooters, you surely can't have missed the House Of The Dead titles. SEGA's frantic zombie shooters invaded arcades in the late 1990s and 2000s, with the last sequel, number four, coming out in 2006. Alas, rather than getting the most recent version, SEGA have instead opted to bundle together two of the original trilogy in one package for lucky Wii owners. How do they hold up years after they were first released?
First thing's first - look past the baffling title, because there's nothing so awkward about the actual game itself. SEGA have proven themselves once with the arcade shooter genre on Wii with the cheese-fest of Ghost Squad, and House Of The Dead 2 & 3 Return is a more-than-worthy follow up - it probably helps that we're bigger fans of the latter series than the former title. It would have been nice to see the original House Of The Dead make it into this compilation as well, but it's probable that it didn't make it due to its age and maybe a touch of laziness. Why bother to spruce up a 12-year old arcade/Saturn game when you already have a Dreamcast-quality HotD2 and an Xbox-quality HotD3 ready to go? Still, we can't complain too much, as what we have here are two quality games at one budget price point.
What we've got here are straight ports of the Dreamcast/Xbox ports...so a compilation of ports of ports, basically. Normally this might be enough to make us back off instantly, but we gave it the benefit of the doubt, and are glad that we did - mainly because the games are still just as playable now as they were all those years ago. Blasting away hordes of rampaging zombies just doesn't get old, particularly when it's backed up by the most bizarre and B-movie-esque vocals ever. Honestly, in some parts we still can't tell if it's intentionally hilarious or not. In addition to the standard arcade modes, a couple of extra modes have also been chucked in: Original in the case of HotD2 (a deeper version of the arcade mode) and Extreme for HotD3 (tougher enemies, etc.).
The greatest part of Returns - aside grabbing a friend and co-opping your way through - is without a doubt the way it proves how perfect Wii is for arcade shooters. In the default settings you have a reticule moving about on the screen, and the aiming is perfect and lag free. However, have a little look around in the options and you will discover the amazing calibration feature which removes the cursor altogether. Click this option and targets will appear in the corner and you will be prompted to aim and fire where you think you should to hit these targets. Incredibly, from just these few inputs the system produces spot-on aiming the majority of the time without the use of a reticule. We're not sure what pixie dust has been employed to manage this, but it somehow even does it slightly better than the system in Ghost Squad.
Sadly, the extra modes are the only real advantages of House of the Dead 2 & 3 Returns over the other console versions of the games, and for that reason we'd be a little reluctant to recommend it if you already own the others. Certainly nothing else is altered, not least the visuals. HotD2 looks pretty abysmal, though thankfully HotD3 is a bit better due to its Xbox roots. It's clear that not that much effort has gone into recreating the House of the Dead experience for Wii owners, and that's why we would advise you to opt for Ghost Squad over this - a title that, despite not having the name value of the House of the Dead franchise, has obviously had more work put into it. Both games included are still fantastic, don't get us wrong; it just couldn't have hurt SEGA to have put something more into the package.
Visuals and technical things aside, the House of the Dead games have really stood the test of time. They're still just as fun as they were back then. The aim of the Wii remote makes things even better.
Those points are all for HotD3, which looks alright in motion. The score is dragged down by the horrid HotD2 visuals.
Decent sound effects, still-funny unchanged voice acting. Oh how we still laugh hearing about G's blood!
You'll get through the arcade modes quite quickly - they are arcade shooters, afterall - but the extra modes will add a bit more length. Much more could have been done, though.
All this time on, and the House of the Dead games are still more than worth a play. However, if you have previous versions of them already, you may be best steering clear as this compilation offers practically the same experience only with a couple of extra modes. SEGA, it'd be lovely if you could make us a version of House of the Dead 4...
This game is good fun. My only complaint is that the visuals are appalling. IMO, deserves a 3 max.
Aye, visuals do look shite but surprisingly well scored. Nice review!
Don't think its for me, played both and wasted me pennies!
Good games back in their time but the visuals are definitely dated now.
The visuals of HotD2 are worth...just about nothing. However, in motion HotD3 is averagely decent, it just doesn't come across too well in stills.
I do hope this'll sell well - it's Sega's little "test to see if it sells" for the Wii. If it flops, they'll blame the console. Sigh.
I\'d much rather get umbrella chronicles. =/( Edited 23.05.2008 18:55 by ZeroSimon )
HotD2 may looks shit, but it's a better game than HotD3. Both are not worth any money, though. It's hilarious that Wii is getting these lol. This is the sort of thing you can buy off XBLA for a fiver. Yet it's on Wii for
Oh, wow, House Of the Dead 2 - I let much Deutschmarks sink into it's hungry slit buying me Continues (did that sound awkward?). It was fun - 1998. Sound is still today, but Visuals where strange already back then.
It's a quick and easy way to kill some time, but not a game with a story worth of Puliter price.
What makes me sad is, that companies always seem to test Nintendo consoles with games, which are utterly cheap. If they win, they flood us with evil shovelware (you'll see. Zombie arcade shooters will come in waves). If they lose, they will leave us alone with no games at all.
Like the line in AvP: "No matter who wins - we lose!"
But I think you rated the game right. Good review, Mason! I would buy these... diamonds for 15 EUR, not more. Shame they will sell for trice the price...
Which one? The one you posted previously is still there...( Edited 27.05.2008 10:19 by Mason )
Nah I posted another one. Perhaps it got lost in the internet or something.
Yeah, poss, I never saw another one off you. Gist of it?( Edited 27.05.2008 19:31 by Mason )
It's hilarious that Wii is getting these lol. This is the sort of thing you can buy off XBLA for a fiver.
Example please, because I don't recall it.
Nice review but I do have a question. I know you mentioned it in the review, but I'd just to like to ask about the quality of the calibration when using some sort of gun attachment?