HOUSE OF THE DEAD: Remake Review (Switch eShop)

Two years ago, Polish studio Forever Entertainment released an HD remake of the Sega Saturn classic, Panzer Dragoon. Our review at the time said the remake was interesting but flawed, but ultimately concluded that while it wasn’t perfect, we were glad it at least existed so more people could at least have the chance to play it in one form or another.

Fast forward to the present day and Forever Entertainment is back with another remake of a classic Sega IP, and this time it’s legendary lightweight arcade shooter The House of the Dead. As fate would have it, it turns out our take on this is pretty much the same as Forever’s on Panzer Dragoon: it’s welcome, but it’s not perfect.

For those unlucky enough not to have The House of the Dead in their lives thus far, the game takes place in and around the Curien mansion, as players try to put an end to the evil Dr. Curien and his laboratory. . Curien performed some pretty dark experiments that resulted in his mansion being overrun by a horde of zombies and other mutants, so it’s up to you to clear the house (of the dead), slap some bullets in the rump de Curien on the way out, and also save your girlfriend who was at home for reasons.

As wonderfully versatile as the Switch is, light gun games can be a little tricky because there’s no truly perfect way to replicate the experience. The Wii provided one of the best and most accurate home light gun experiences, as its sensor bar provided consistent tracking of the remote’s pointer, but without a sensor bar the switch only had to press on gyro controls and it’s not ideal.

Whether you’re playing with the Joy-Con separately in either hand, using the Pro Controller, or in handheld mode, there’s an option to play with the gyro controls. On paper, that’s the best way to do it, and keeping it calibrated isn’t even a big deal – pushing the cursor to the edge of the screen and back to the center usually does the job.

The main issue we have with the gyro controls is that every time we fire (either with the ‘A’ button or specifically the ‘ZR’ trigger) the cursor twitches and disrupts our aim. We don’t know if this is due to over-sensitivity on the part of the controller, but it can make things really frustrating when trying to hit ranged or even mid-range targets.

It’s also a mess for boss fights, where you ideally want to keep your cursor focused on a weak point but it jumps all over the place. We should note that we’re not exactly John Woo stuntmen when playing light gun games: we consciously tried to keep our hands and trigger fingers as steady as possible while playing and the cursor kept on to jump.

We found playing with a Pro controller helped a bit. Not entirely, mind you, but enough that things aren’t so frustrating. Let’s face it, though, when playing a light gun game you want to feel like you’re holding a gun, and the Joy-Con feels more like a gun than a Pro Controller (even though it’s of a small gun like the one in men in black).

There’s also the option of using the Control Stick to move the cursor instead, which is obviously far less intuitive but is at least more precise. The default settings for this do the job for the most part (although it’s hard to react and aim quickly), but there are a bunch of sensitivity settings you can play around with until you get something which you are quite happy with. Obviously though, this is still not an ideal situation: one of the main advantages of this genre is that anyone, regardless of their playing ability, is supposed to be able to pick up a “weapon” and know immediately what he does. That level of intuitive control is certainly not present here.

(Incidentally, while we’re at it, we’d like Forever Entertainment to be able to add the ability to use the touchscreen to just tap on where we want to shoot. This would obviously make the game much easier, but at least this would be perfectly accurate, and it would be a big help in Horde Mode, which we’ll get to in a bit.)

Assuming you can find a method of control that suits you well enough, the game itself is as entertaining as House of the Dead has ever been. Blowing zombie heads is still brilliantly satisfying, as is keeping helpless scientists from being attacked, while relishing in the beautifully gruesome voice acting. There’s also the option to cross it with a buddy with local multiplayer.

Being an arcade game, however, it’s still very brief. There are a few different endings to provide at least some replay value, but control issues mean trying to get some of them (which requires a high degree of precision and skill) could result in your own face being ripped apart. , Ironically.

Once you’ve had your fill of the main arcade mode, there’s also a new mode called Horde, which is essentially the same thing but gives you a load of zombies to deal with in each area instead of just a few at a time. time. In a sense, it’s a funnier, action-packed version of the game, but in practice, it exposes control issues even more when you have more targets to deal with quickly.

Visually, it’s… good. As this is a remake, it’s not just the original arcade game with HD upgrade and hi-res textures applied: all game characters, locations and enemies have been rebuilt from zero. When you look at them in these static screenshots they might look a little silly, but it’s also important to note that they usually spawn and attack so quickly that you don’t have time to sit and study. the quality of their character models. They’re detailed enough, and the improved lighting is nice and moody, if a bit basic.

Where the game suffers a bit is in performance. On its default setting, the frame rate can jitter frequently, which isn’t ideal for a game that requires quick reactions like this. There’s an option to enable a ‘Performance’ mode which brings everything much closer to a stable frame rate, but while this essentially fixes the problem without too much compromise when docked, it can make things blurrier when playing in handheld mode.

Ultimately, The House of the Dead: Remake was clearly crafted with love for the source material, and fans of the original will likely still enjoy seeing how Forever Entertainment gave it a fresh lick of paint. However, how much fun you have with it will depend on your willingness to tinker with its settings until you’re happy enough with its controls. It’s infuriating every time you fail to save a scientist because you’re shooting a zombie and not hitting it through no fault of your own, and you shouldn’t have to spend time messing with the sensitivity and deadzone options to attenuate something that should just “work”.


When everything is working as it should, The House of the Dead: Remake is a fun update to a Sega arcade classic. Performance can be jerky and controls clunky on its default settings, but if you’re willing to spend the time tweaking it, you should end up with something you’re happier with. However, you shouldn’t have to do this with a small arms shooter, and your doing so should be considered a failure on the part of the game.