Two Arcade Classics for the Price of One
The House of the Dead franchise is often praised for its B-movie feel and comical horror gameplay as well as its fun factor. The House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return for the Wii features the second and third games in the light gun series and makes use of the Wii Zapper. If you’ve played either of these games at the arcade, then you know what to expect. Still, despite the fact that there are only a few Wii-exclusive features, this is still a fun and worthwhile disc that can provide a decent amount of entertainment.
Story (3 out of 5)
Both games on the disc feature separate stories taken directly from the arcade games. In House of the Dead 2, you’re on a mission to
seek out agent G. You’ll face waves upon waves of zombies, and you’ll have to aim for the head, save civilians, and fight massive bosses as you try to seek out your associate from the AMS.
In House of the Dead III, you play as agents G and Lisa Rogan. This game’s story puts the two AMS agents at the center of a big experiment. The undead are literally everywhere, and you must go through the facility that unleashed all of these zombies. It’s nothing to write home about, but the story still manages to push the game along and give it at least some type of plot. And House of the Dead games have always been lauded for their typical horror movie plotlines, so this is definitely familiar territory for fans of the series.
Gameplay (4 out of 5)
Both games on the disc feature similar gameplay. You’ll play in first-person perspective and shoot zombies. That’s really all there is
to it, but there’s something really gripping about the House of the Dead games. One of the cooler features of this collection is that you can put the Wii Zapper to good use. It’s not required to play the game, but holding Nintendo’s light gun peripheral emulates the feel of playing House of the Dead at the arcade.
In House of the Dead 2, you’ll be put in certain situations which can have a direct impact on the game. Depending on your actions, you’ll travel through branching paths in the game. Usually, this results in you seeing another part of a locale or fighting different enemies, and it encourages subsequent play-throughs. House of the Dead III also has branching paths, but in this game you actually pick which way you want to go. Both methods are welcome, and you’ll definitely want to see the different things each path has to offer.
One of the frustrating things of House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return is the continue system. In arcades, you have the comfort of knowing that if you see the game over screen, you can simply insert another quarter into the machine and continue where you left off. Sadly, this doesn’t hold true here. Instead, you have a set number of continues, and once you lose them all, it’s back to the start. You’ll gain a continue every time you have to start over, but even then you can’t accrue a very high number of continues, and having to earn continues in that fashion is still a frustrating thing to have to deal with.
Extras (3 out of 5)
Although not very impressive, there are a few extras thrown into both House of the Dead games. Aside from the Arcade Mode, House of
the Dead 2 features Original Mode, where you can collect items to aid you in getting through each stage. There’s also a Boss Mode and a Training Mode. In House of the Dead III, the only bonus feature is Time Attack. This is a standard timed mode that has the clock counting down. Killing zombies will add time to your clock, but taking damage will decrease the amount on the timer. And that’s all there is in the way of extras. These are for all intents and purposes decent additions that do add some replayability to the disc, but they don’t do anything especially amazing for the collection.
Graphics and Sound (3 out of 5)
Both House of the Dead games feature the same graphical style that they did in arcades. And while the visuals aren’t really bad, they
still seem dated by today’s standards and a bit on the archaic side. Admittedly they do carry an old-school charm to them, as does the game’s sound. There’s nothing overly amazing about the score, but if you enjoy frantic, fast-paced arcade game music, then that’s what you can expect from the two games on this disc.
Lasting Value (2 out of 5)
Despite the fact that there are two games on one disc, House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return isn’t a very long-lasting package. You’re likely to
replay the games as you try to earn continues, and teaming up with a friend to play cooperatively is always fun, but each game lasts just about an hour. And while the bonuses are fun, they won’t keep you entertained for too long. What you see is what you get with this package, and in this case it’s two short but sweet arcade games ported to the Wii.
Conclusion (3 out of 5)
The House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return is good for fans of the series, light gun games, or just fun zombie titles. The gameplay is fun, the motion controls are really solid, and you get some decent little extras to boot. Unfortunately, this collection isn’t very long-lasting. Perhaps the inclusion of the first House of the Dead game would have added to the overall value. Still, even with its short length and flaws, this is a decent collection that fans of these types of games will enjoy.