Interview with Benjamin Anseaume and Artur Grzegorczyn, Producers Behind The House of the Dead: Remake
Long-time readers of this site may be aware of my die-hard love towards Sega and its IPs. One of my fondest childhood memories was wasting dozens upon dozens of coins on The House of the Dead arcade cabinets. It’s safe to say that they are my favorite arcade / rail shooters of all time, most particularly its sequel, released in 1999. How could I not love a perfect combination of B-movie schlock and high-octane action? I am sure most of you old-school gamers have played it at least once, and I’m dead certain some of you have even spent two coins at once in order to dual-wield both cabinet’s pistols like a badass.
When I found that the team behind the Panzer Dragoon remake was developing a remake of the first The House of the Dead game (the Saturn one very few people have actually played), I was stoked. One of my childhood franchises was being remade for the Switch! I could only think on the possibilities provided by the system’s gimmicks. I had the pleasure of talking to Artur Grzegorczyn and Benjamin Anseaume, respectively producer and co-producer behind the remake, and found out a bit more about the upcoming title.
We are really excited for The House of the Dead: Remake, and are thrilled it finally has a release date! Could you tell us a bit more about its development cycle? When did it start, and what led the team to come up with the idea for this remake in the first place?
Benjamin Anseaume: Thank you! We are excited too, as the release approaches. In fact, discussions started soon after we began the development of Panzer Dragoon: Remake. We were convinced by the result and thought we could do something cool with the House of the Dead IP. After that, we took some time to pitch our idea, but we had the chance to start working in parallel with PD: Remake‘s development, and of course, once that game was released, we were able to start working on The House of the Dead at full speed!
The House of the Dead: Remake is not being developed nor published by Sega, so we’d like to know a bit more of how they are helping you out with the game’s development and distribution, and also how did you guys end up being able to develop games based on their franchises without being tied to them as a publisher.
BA: Forever Entertainment (the publisher behind The House of the Dead: Remake) is a publishing company that owns a video game development studio, but as a group, our main job is to publish games – so it just made sense for us to be the publisher of these games. SEGA is the IP-owner, and as such, has total control over the content – and of course, they support us as much as they can (and we need…), especially in terms of lore, feedback, features, etc…
Most people are more acquainted with The House of the Dead 2, and not its predecessor. What made you guys want to remake the first game in the particular?
BA: To be fair, we never thought about it this way. We just wanted to work on this mythic IP, so starting with the first episode just made sense; plus the content, gameplay length and ideas we had were sufficient to make a solid, modern remake and reach our goals.
This is not the first time you guys have developed a remake of a classic Sega Saturn game, as you were responsible for the Panzer Dragoon remake two years ago. What is your relationship with the Saturn in particular? What led you guys to focus so much on bringing back classics from that specific underrated console?
BA: A large part of our team, and especially older members, are fans of this system, and I must say that having the opportunity to give these gems the spotlight they deserve is a privilege. We all know what happened to the Saturn, and we all know that the quality of these games was not the reason why they weren’t a hit back then. Their potential was just huge, and that can be seen nowadays… everyone still remembers games like Panzer Dragoon and The House of the Dead, amongst others.
The House of the Dead franchise is known for using light guns as their primary kind of controller. We’d love to know if the joycon’s motion capabilities will be used to simulate the controls and overall feel of a light gun arcade game, and if other input methods will be included in order to let players enjoy the game on the go.
Artur Grzegorczyn: We focused on utilizing gyro aiming in the best way we could. For example, multiplayer single joy-con mode with both players using gyroscopic functionalities. It is mostly about how it is implemented, and how many options you have to set up gyro to your liking. From sensitivity to mixed gyro-analogue controls – there is everything you need to make you feel comfortable with it, so you can just focus on gameplay. Of course, when you’re “on-the-go”, you can use an analogue aiming mod, which is not that bad, to be honest.
One thing everyone knows about the HotD games is that they feature terrible voice acting, but in a way that feels beyond charming. We downright LOVE the cheesy VA in these games. Is this something that was taken into consideration when remaking The House of the Dead for a brand new audience?
BA: Absolutely, we are working with an awesome team of actors, led by Natalie Roers, an extremely talented professional. We had several discussions about it and they really caught the B-movie feel of the voice acting. I think you’ll like it!
Considering the reception of your upcoming project, are you planning on porting it to other platforms? Is VR a possibility, given how it’s a perfect fit for an arcade shooting gallery?
BA: I can’t announce anything yet, but depending on the reception of the game, we could have more announcements in the future… stay tuned!
We know you are still focused on wrapping up development on The House of the Dead: Remake, but what are your plans for the future? Are you planning on remaking other Sega classics? Anything that can be teased right now?
BA: We have recently announced another large scale project: the remakes of Front Mission 1 and 2! These projects will use a lot of our resources, and we are still on track to deliver other previously announced remakes as well: Fear Effect Reinvented (Square Enix), Panzer Dragoon: Zwei (Sega), as well as sequels like Shadowgate 2, Magical Drop 6 and Night Slashers!
It’s a good thing that the Forever Entertainment group has grown so much these past few months, because we have a lot of work to over the foreseeable future… these are exciting times!