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Leaving the Light Gun Where it Belongs
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on July 13, 2005   |   Episode 68 (Show Archive)  

   

Maybe this House of the Dead will actually take place in a House!
Recently Sega announced that the fourth installment of the House of the Dead series would be released in arcades within the next year. Considering the cult following the original series has (despite Uwe Boll's best attempts to kill off the series in his movie), this sequel was a no-brainer. When it comes to things we can all agree on, pretty much everybody likes to shoot holes in zombies. They always have, and I have a hunch, they always will.

But the news of a House of the Dead 4 had barely sunk in before just about every media outlet started hinting at a possible Xbox 360 port of the upcoming arcade game. With its 60 inch widescreen display and next generation arcade board, this brand new arcade game seems all but destined to be released on one of the upcoming game systems. But not so fast there Sega, perhaps this House of the Dead deserves to stay in arcades and not infest our homes.

Of course, light gun games have been part of our home console experience since the days of the NES Zapper. Since then pretty much every major system has offered some kind of light gun - from your regular pistol all the way up to a full fledged bazooka. With so much history behind the light gun (not to mention our countries love for guns) it's easy to

You know you're in trouble when the best thing about your movie is an appearance by Bif Naked!
understand why Sega would be tempted to port their newest House of the Dead game to a home console. But after twenty years, maybe it's time to give the light gun back to the arcade where it belongs.

Regardless of how well they sell on the home consoles, the light gun game is fundamentally a better experience in the arcade than it is at home. These days consumers are looking for the most value for their buck, and with very limited game play and next to no replay, light gun games are often not the first choice. It doesn't help much that these games have not changed much in the last twenty years. Sure the graphics have improved, but you are still forced to do nothing more than shoot what's on the screen and wait for more baddies to jump out at you.

In the 21st century the first-person shooter has taken over where the light gun game left off. Instead of feeling like a passenger on rails shooting whatever you see, games like Halo or Half-Life allow you to explore your environment, interact with objects, and even play with your friends online. By sharp contrast light gun games generally only give you one or two modes to play through (usually lasting less than an hour), and rarely offering any kind of muli-player options . certainly nothing as robust as what you would find in your average, run-of-the-mill first-person shooter.


Arcades sure are fun ... but not when they cost you $5 per game!
Not only do these FPS games offer more depth and game play, but they are also quite a bit less expensive. These days game systems don't come with light guns so if you're going to play a game like House of the Dead you are going to need to pick up a $40+ accessory to go along with it. Considering that few of these light gun experiences last more than a few hours, that's close to $100 for something you can beat several times within the first day. To make matters worse, sometimes the gun is only good for one game, making it extremely hard to justify purchasing it in the first place. In the case of House of the Dead III for the Xbox, not only were you limited by only having one light gun to choose from, but it wasn't even a very good gun at that.

So what's the solution? Quite simply, it's time to leave these games in the arcade where they belong. With arcades running out of exclusive content and losing ground to the home console market, it's time to throw them a bone and let them keep a few genres to themselves. At this point almost every other type of game that was once a popular arcade draw - racers, fighters,

Doesn't look like a shotgun, does it?
etc. - seem to fit better in the comfort of your own home. But not light gun games, they are better when you have a huge gun that looks like the heat your character is packing on screen. It's just not the same when you're supposed to be packing a shotgun, but the gun you're holding looks more like a small pistol.

So get over your selfish need to have these games at home, it's time to give them back to the arcade. It's time to give these establishments some much needed patronage; after all, it's probably been a good long time since you've gone in and inserted your tokens into the game cabinets. Forget about waiting for House of the Dead 4 to haunt you at home, it's time for you to get out there and actually scare up some business for these arcades. I guarantee they'll be more impressed with your sharp shooting skills than your mom will be.
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