An Ode to the Light Gun Shooter

For the most part, I am relatively okay with losing arcades. The arcade experience was something that I like out of nostalgia, but admittedly I also really dig the home gaming experience. There is, however, one thing I do definitely miss.

Remember light gun shooters? Oh man, now those were some good times.

I remember playing a copy of Time Crisis on my PSOne in the good old days of 1997, I still have a disc actually. I had played a handful of light gun shooters before, or at least saw them. But it was Time Crisis that actually got me into the genre.

I also played Virtua Cop and pretty much all of the House of the Dead games (except for 4). I still have to play Time Crisis 5, but that’s probably gonna be a permanent thing unless a port comes out. I haven’t played Razing Storm either, though I did play Crisis Zone.

But, as the arcade went, so too did light gun shooters. Pretty much the only two franchises that are still alive and kicking are Time Crisis and House of the Dead. Everything else has basically gone under.

One of the side benefits of the Nintendo Wii, despite its lack of graphical prowess, was the fact that the Wii Remote was well-suited to light gun games. Indeed, we got House of the Dead: Overkill and the Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles and Darkside Chronicles games.

This was important because until then, light guns worked off CRT (big-ass) monitor technology. You had to use a CRT monitor, and even at the time of the Wii they were on their way out.

But that ride had to end, too. All I’ve got left are fond memories. At this point, I’m going to wax nostalgically about both Time Crisis and House of the Dead. For the record, I saw both House of the Dead movies and they were pretty terrible.

Ok, so let’s start with Time Crisis. Time Crisis is, as I was told by an old friend, a “bad action movie simulator”. In terms of plots, they’re pretty terrible and pretty campy. Yet, I enjoy this camp factor, especially in Time Crisis 3 where we got banter from the VSSE agents.

And of course, we got Wild Dog. No matter what happens, he always seems to pull through. He loses his arm after the first game, but it is replaced with increasingly more ridiculous weapons.

In fact, I think the games got more and more campy as they went on. But still, in terms of intense shooting action, you can’t beat it.

But while taking down armies of mercenaries/terrorists/whatever action movie bad guy they’re using is certainly fun, others may want to hone their shooting skills on a less…living target.

Enter the House of the Dead series of games. House of the Dead is known for two things: Shooting zombies and the worst possible voice acting to grace video games. Watching the cutscenes alone is entertainment enough, especially if you’re watching House of the Dead 2’s cutscenes.

House of the Dead 1 and 2 had an emphasis on branching paths which could be triggered by saving hostages or destroying objects in the environment. This was neutered in the third game, where you were given more direct choices that had less of an impact.

I never got to play House of the Dead 4, but I have seen playthroughs. Outside of the numbered games, we have Overkill. That game was so much fun, with a humorous take on grindhouse cinema. Agent G is cast as a rookie teamed up with Isaac Washington, who constantly swears.

There was a Silent Hill rail shooter, but it wasn’t honestly that good. Still, it’s got classic monsters in it.

I must confess, I love the simplicity of the genre. If I have some time, I can just pick it up and play. But, it seems pretty clear that this will have to remain a relic of a forgotten age of games. I have heard of attempts to resuscitate the genre with VR, and if that’s the case, I’d be more than happy to pick that up. Until then, I guess I can watch playthroughs on YouTube.