Last month, Sega announced that it was remaking its cult classic light gun game, The House of the Dead, for the Switch. Earlier this week, the developers announced that it was being ported to just about every platform imaginable.
A Twitter user by the name of Jamie Feltham (@Hero_Kvatch) says he asked the developers if they were planning to add VR support after the announcement. The team responded that there were no plans to add VR support for The House of the Dead.
I asked about VR support.No plans. Sad face. https://t.co/7wAXownMxsApril 21, 2022
A missed opportunity
While Sega's not shown much interest in VR in general, it's hard to imagine a better platform for a light gun game like House of the Dead than the Quest 2, but Sega's not the only company sleeping on VR's potential to revive the genre. Even though there's no shortage of shooting games on the Quest 2 (some of the best accessories for its controllers are attachments that make the controllers feel like handguns) there just aren't that many notable light gun-inspired games on the Quest.
Much like a number of genres that saw their heyday in the arcade, like fighting or shoot-em-up games, the light gun game went the way of the dodo for a while. Relegated to dusty corners at local pizza joints and roller rinks, the light gun game didn't see the same explosive comeback that a majority of other arcade genres did in the early and mid-2000s.
Despite the motion control craze brought about by the Wii that perfectly set the stage for the return of light gun games, only a handful of games actually captured their arcade-y feel. To make matters worse, most of these games were relegated to minigames or other side content, for bigger experiences. The ones that weren't often represented the worst games of that time: pure shovelware.
Thanks to indie developers embracing what made arcade games so great in the first place, a ton of smaller, score-based games have started to pop up all over, both on and off VR platforms. Like any emerging gaming platform, smaller arcade-style games often paved the way for bigger experiences that capitalize on the platform's biggest strengths — and VR is seeing that shift right now.
Where arcade-y games like Beat Saber or Tetris Effect used to be the medium's most popular games, now more and more of the most beloved VR games mirror the scope and structure of more traditional video games. Now we have VR MMOs, Battle Royales, AAA first-person campaigns, and traditional Action-Adventure games.
Lots of these games garner the most hype and praise. Half-Life: Alyx, for example, was widely hailed as VR's "Mario 64 moment." It's easy to want what we know we want, what's familiar. But VR as a medium, especially the Oculus Quest 2 as a platform, shouldn't be relegated to only being an additional place for traditional gaming experiences. That's how motion controls became a fad, because they didn't do traditional experiences as well as a controller, and people eventually got tired of them.
Quest 2 is designed perfectly for more arcade-style games
As any Quest 2 owner is sure to tell you, its battery life is barely serviceable and it's just not very comfortable to wear long-term. Beyond the game design ideas and opportunities unique to VR, these more premium, AAA experiences like Half-Life: Alyx or Star Wars Squadrons just wouldn't work on Quest, even if it could run them. The current hardware isn't as suited for these big, sweeping adventures that beg you to hack away at them for hours. Arcade games work so much better.
Sure, games like Resident Evil 4 VR offer something close to an alternative with its Mercenaries Mode. Some of its most action-packed moments feel like a shooting gallery, but core tenets of its design — like the ability to move — make it another beast entirely.
It's time to revamp these titles for VR
There just aren't enough VR games that feel as exciting as the original House of the Dead, Time Crisis, or Virtua Cop games did in arcades. Games like Crisis VRigade 1 and 2 are exceptions to the disappointing rule, rather than standouts. They're not just proof that light gun games are perfect for VR, they're proof that we need more light gun games in VR. The best way to get there is for Sega — or another company with a popular light gun franchise — to bring their games to the Quest 2. And to keep them coming.
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Charlie's a freelance contributor at Android Central from Milwaukee, WI.