Sega blesses the entire universe with the new 'House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn' arcade game

January 16, 2018

You know that “A Plea to Sega for The House of the Dead 5” article I wrote back in October? Well, plea granted. That was…quick.

            It’s finally here, kiddos. We’ve finally gotten what we’ve been asking for all these years. The House of the Dead is back—in the purest, most beautiful form possible. (Well, from what we’ve seen so far, heh-heh.) ArcadeHeroes.com reported this Monday that Sega is location-testing THOTD: Scarlet Dawn (and heavily promoting it, too!). From what I’ve seen, Sega is kicking things into overdrive with the newest House of the Dead game. Like, they really care. That makes me happy. That makes me VERY happy.

            To commemorate the biggest 2018 arcade announcement yet, I’m going to write one of my longest, most in-depth analyses ever. The House of the Dead is a very special series, and it deserves all the attention that it can get. So, without further ado, let’s obsess over every last detail of The House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn. (I keep typing “Scarlet Overkill” by accident. It’s kinda funny, actually. If I leave any of those typos in, make sure to bully me for it in the comments.)

            Let me just take a moment to catch my breath. There have been so many awesome arcade game announcements lately that I’ve become a bit winded. First, Raw Thrills dropped the bombshell that they’re making a brand-new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle beat ‘em up. And of course, we’ve always got new indie games popping up left and right. But then, Sega dropped this, and I about died.

            Thank you, Sega. I’m sorry I bashed your IAAPA 2017 lineup.

 

 

Before we get into the game itself, let’s take a look at the cabinet. Let’s just be honest: Sega is definitely going for some Dark Escape 4D vibes with Scarlet Dawn. It’s not bad, but it’s impossible to deny. Even so, the cabinet design is beautiful. The marquee is stunning. The hordes of zombies in the background give off the exact feeling that Sega is going for with this game. The colors are the right kind of muted, too: dark, foreboding. The glowing-red House of the Dead is especially delightful. Sega has finally found a way to perfectly modernize the original logo, and it looks so much better than the logo typeface from THOTD 3 and 4. Everything about that marquee looks incredible. It makes me so happy!

            The cabinet as a whole makes it even better. There’s so much depth to the design; so many intricate details, textures. Even the lighting feels purposeful. The red lighting on the rear of the cabinet exemplifies that this is spookier than the average (campy) THOTD game. And that zombie peeking out at you from the back? Hey, I know Raw Thrills did it first, but you gotta admit: Sega did it real nice, too. The blue/indigo lighting creates a feeling of cold, dark death—exactly how the zombie should feel. It’s glorious.

            The rest of the cabinet creates this aura of decay, perhaps even age. There’s “grime” all over the sides of the cabinet, and the drape over the side entrance is torn and covered with bloody handprints. To heighten your physical arcade experience that much more, there are even vibrating seats and air blasters. Sure, the Dark Escape 4D and Walking Dead vibes here are a little strong, but is it really a bad thing? Sega may have borrowed some ideas from the two biggest arcade zombie shooters of the past decade, but at least they improved upon them. Sega has designed The House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn as a real competitor. They want to dominate with this game, and that they may very well do.

            However, while the cabinet may be stunning and beautiful and amazing and perfect, there are just two potential problems. The first problem, quite possibly the least consequential one, is that Scarlet Dawn may be a VERY expensive game. It’s a monstrous deluxe cabinet—what do we expect, right? But still, it concerns me just a little. Small, local arcade operators probably have either the first or second House of the Dead game in their arcade and might wanna buy the new one, too. However, if the game is too cost-prohibitive, we may not see Scarlet Dawn outside of Round1 USA and Dave and Buster’s.

            And what makes this expensive cabinet design even more of a problem is the expense for players. The cheapest price-per-credit I’ve ever seen for a deluxe cabinet of this kind was $0.75—and that’s the absolute lowest you’re likely to get. Games of this magnitude are generally $1.00 or maybe even $2.00 (!!!) per credit. Sega may adjust the difficulty of the game to account for the higher prices (like Raw Thrills did with Jurassic Park, from what I could tell), but it’s still a little concerning. I love playing any and all arcade games, and even I have trouble parting with a whole dollar each time I die.

            Here’s the thing, though. The cabinet is amazing. The visceral out-of-home entertainment experience that Scarlet Dawn will likely provide is nothing to be scoffed at. If the game is good and the experience is fun, I have no problem paying a dollar per credit. And here’s the other thing: Sega always releases standard upright cabinets eventually. Unlike Raw Thrills, Sega produces cheaper, smaller, upright versions of their deluxe games. That’s good news for us players who can’t spend a ton of money on the new House of the Dead game. I highly recommend playing through the deluxe version when it comes out, but if you can’t, worry not: There will be a standard version eventually. Or maybe history won’t repeat itself. Maybe we’ll only have a super-pricey version available. We’ll have to see.

            The second problem with THOTD: Scarlet Dawn’s cabinet design is perhaps the most concering one: Will it be a mounted-gun rail shooter, or will it have a cable-connected gun that you can point and shoot? It’s not quite clear yet, but the main assumption so far seems to be that it’ll be like the guns in Operation: G.H.O.S.T. Though we all long for traditional point-and-shoot rail shooters to make their valiant return, it appears that this isn’t happening anytime soon. (Time Crisis 5 being the major exception, of course.) However, I really wouldn’t be offended by machine guns with a reload mechanic. As long as Scarlet Dawn isn’t some spray-and-pray mounted gun nonsense like Let’s Go Island or Let’s Go Island, I’m happy. I’ve had it up to here (indicated duly by my hand) with spray-and-pray mounted gun rail shooters.

            But man, look at that cabinet. It’s flipping beautiful.

Though arcade cabinets are a big part of the total experience in arcades, they certainly aren’t the main reason we play games. A game can look totally poppin’, but if it ain’t fun, we ain’t putting any more cash into it. So, what do we know about the gameplay in THOTD: Scarlet Dawn so far? Does it look fun?

            It seems that, just like with The House of the Dead 4, Sega is putting the most emphasis on the sheer number of zombies that are onscreen at any given moment. And if you thought you couldn’t fit anymore zombies on the screen than what was on display in THOTD 4, think again. Sega takes the number of onscreen enemies to its logical extreme. It’s almost ridiculous how many bad dudes there are at once, but it looks so, so awesome.

            In fact, the need more enemies may be driven by Sega’s desire to make Scarlet Dawn genuinely horrific. While I’ve always considered The House of the Dead to be “action” games more so than horror (like Time Crisis with zombies), I have no problem with this new direction. I think there’s no better place to scare a player than within the chambers of an deluxe theater-style arcade cabinet. As long as the voice acting isn’t as campy as it used to be, I think Scarlet Dawn can pull off the whole “horror” thing.

            Something else I noticed in screenshots is that Scarlet Dawn appears to be much more “traditional” in presentation than The House of the Dead 3 and 4 were. Though there are plenty (and I mean plenty) of new zombie designs thrown our way, there are also a number of enemies that appear to be “HD remasters” of classic zombies. Who could forget that one chainsaw-wielding dude? Oh, and the dual-axe zombie, too! Yep, they’re both back. THOTD: Scarlet Dawn is definitely creating its own unique visual style, but at the very least, it looks a lot more traditional than THOTD 4 ever did. Also, I’m pretty sure this one actually takes place in a mansion, based on the screenshots alone. That should be cool. However, I don’t know if there’s blood and gore yet, but let’s keep our fingers crossed.

            House of the Dead traditionalists will be happy to hear that, yes, rescues are back. There appear to be a lot of timed scenarios where you’ll either have to take out some dudes or save a person. I think it’ll be fun. The timing, I think, is beneficial for A) gameplay purposes, and B) keeping you on your toes. Timers always wig me out, man.

            Overall, The House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn looks like it’s gonna be a lot of fun. The only point of contingency some people might get hung up on is…well, those gosh darned machine guns. Based on screenshots alone, I've come to the conclusion that, at the very least, there aren't any onscreen reticles, which is always a good thing. Furthermore, boss fights look very "old school rail shooter-esque". I'm also pretty sure there aren't any bullet time sequences, thank goodness. Those are definitely one of the worst aspects of modern rail shooters. (When overused, that is). Heck, even the health indicators just scream classic HOTD. Look at the little flames, kiddos.

            However, It is extremely likely that this won’t be a super-traditional six-bullet point-and-shoot rail shooter. Unfortunate? Yes. Game-breaking? Heck no. Mark my words: Scarlet Dawn is going to be wicked fun, even if we have to use machine guns. The graphics even look pretty nice. Using Unreal Engine 4, they’ve surpassed the graphical fidelity of THOTD 4 just enough to make a real difference. I’m excited!

So yeah, this is 100 percent real. And unlike Daytona Championship USA, it looks really flippin’ good! (Thank goodness the London-based Sega Amusements didn’t develop this game.) But before you go, let’s discuss the one and only huge factor that could prevent us from playing Scarlet Dawn when it releases later this year:

            Will it be coming to Western territories?

            That’s a heavy question, because a lot of really cool Japanese arcade games never see the light of day here in the West. Adam Pratt of ArcadeHeroes.com says that he is “…100 percent confident that this is also destined for Western shores.” I’d like to agree him on that. It would be really bad decision-making on Sega’s part if they didn’t bring Scarlet Dawn to the West. After all, at least in America, fans like myself have been absolutely rabid over getting a fifth House of the Dead game for years. The series has a decent following in the U.S.

            Furthermore, it just makes a lot of business sense to bring Scarlet Dawn over here. Like I said in my “Plea to Sega for The House of the Dead 5”, Sega’s two biggest competitors, Namco and Raw Thrills, have both released successful zombie shooters within the past decade. Heck, The Walking Dead is, like, the biggest arcade game right now! Go to any Dave and Buster’s and see for yourself! If Sega were to deny us of the newest House of the Dead game, it would seem like awful business management. People want this game! And I’m sure Sega knows this. The timing of Scarlet Dawn is just too perfect (exactly a year after The Walking Dead was released) for them to not know.

            I guess that, at this point, there’s not much more to say. The House of the Dead 5 is here; we’ve gotten what we wanted. We still don’t know the story, of course, and we also don’t know if the soundtrack will be as epic as it was in the other games. My only recommendations to Sega are that A) Scarlet Dawn is released in the West, and B) a cost-effective standard arcade cabinet is released alongside the wicked deluxe version to expand the game’s location appeal. I also really wouldn't mind getting more info on the story and the creative talent behind the game. 

            I have no doubt in my mind that, if Scarlet Dawn is released in the West, it will dominate in terms of sales and earnings. The release of a fifth House of the Dead game is a monumental occasion. We must celebrate by supporting the game through and through. If you’re a HOTD fan, go out and support Scarlet Dawn when it comes to the West. Don’t wait for the home port, because it’s probably never gonna come. Go out and play Scarlet Dawn the way it is meant to be played: in arcades.

            2018 is shaping up to be a phenomenal year for arcades. I can’t wait to see what else comes, especially from Namco. They've been a bit quiet for a while, you know? Anyway, thanks for stopping by my humble arcade blog today. I hope to see you again.

            Here’s some epic credits music to lighten up your day.

            “It’s finally over. Goldman…I don’t care if a successor comes or not. I’ll go on fighting. As long as we have the will to live…. Goodbye, Goldman.”

            Unironically quoting The House of the Dead 2 makes me feel like a sweaty weeaboo. Please leave my site and never come back.

             Wait just a minute...Sega, where's my Zombie Revenge 2?

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