In the pantheon of strange choices, Devolver Digital’s decision to create an arcade spin-off from its Enter the Gungeon series is perhaps one of the most interesting ones. Arcades are in better health than perhaps a decade ago, but also arguably aren’t exactly the hottest or most fertile ground in gaming.
But credit to Devolver and developer Dodge Roll – it’s crafted House of the Gundead, an awesome-looking new light gun shooter game, despite the fact that it’s exclusive to a $6000 arcade cabinet. I’m super glad it exists. But you know what it really needs? A home port, guns and all.
House of the Gundead isn’t exactly a new revelation – it was first revealed back in E3 2019 – but this week, Devolver announced they game was ready to ship. You can head to the Enter the Gungeon website and even place an order for the cabinet – if you’ve got the cash to spare and enough room for a full-size arcade cabinet with a 43-inch display.
It looks pretty good, and hopefully as well as collectors with money to burn it’ll find its way into some arcades and pubs. New arcade games are relatively rare, and they’re even rarer from anyone but a handful of modern arcade experts like Raw Thrills – so I’ll take it. This is good. Well done, Devolver.
But… Can we get a home port, yeah? Light gun home ports were a staple of gaming in the eighties and nineties – but with the advent of high-definition TVs, which made the light gun technology problematic, they began to die out. A brief revival did happen on Wii, but those pointer-based implementations were never quite the same. Nor is shooting in VR. But display problems meant any return of the genre felt unlikely. However, all that has changed: we have the technology.
Devolver knows it, too. House of the Gundead’s arcade cabinet uses Sinden Light Guns. Sinden is an old friend of VG247 – I’ve been using their guns on my home arcade cabinet to play emulated versions of classic arcade shooters like Point Blank and Time Crisis for an age. These guns work blissfully well on modern flat-screen displays – and in some instances are actually arguably more accurate than the old-school methods.
I’ve talked about Sinden on the site before. The long story short is that it sort of inverts the traditional system by putting a webcam into the barrel of the light gun and then drawing a small border around the game image on the display. Pair this with clever software and the gun reads the border, using this to work out precisely where it is pointed.
After a bit of calibration, it works like a dream – and works very well even when standing off at a weird angle or whatever. It is absolutely the evolution of technology that light gun games deserve – but for whatever reason, it’s largely gone unnoticed by the wider industry.
House of the Gundead is a step in the right direction, then. Sinden was built for nerds like me, people with home setups who wanted to play old light gun games on cabinets, retro consoles, or via emulation. But it’s been licensed before, by the folks behind the three-quarter scale Arcade1Up cabinet replicas to power Big Buck Hunter and Terminator releases, with Time Crisis also rumored to be on the way. PolyMega sells plug-and-play Sinden guns for its nebulous retro hardware. And now Devolver joins the fray.
What we’re really waiting for, however, is a brave company to step in and license the tech from this small British start-up to get the Sinden guns, which plug in via USB, on console. The natural fit would be for the old-school Light Gun big boys to step up – Sega or Namco working to create a new Virtua Gun or GunCon using the Sinden tech. Think of the HD remasters that could be sold! Not to mention ports of newer arcade releases like House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn. I want it. I need it.
I’m thrilled to see House of the Gundead; it’s fun to see a developer and publisher experimenting with an arcade original, even if it’s seemingly mostly a marketing exercise. It’s great to see Sinden getting further recognition, too.
A port of this title that is compatible with PC mice seems to be a no-brainer anyway – and that’d be compatible with Sinden guns. In fact, that’s probably how the official cabinet works. But the return of the home light gun is way overdue, especially with publishers designing rad new light gun shooters. Technology is no longer an excuse.. Can we hurry it up, please?