Light gun gaming has suffered since the 90s. Arcades continue to struggle in the west, and advancements like high-definition are killing off the old technology behind the shooting mechanic.
It’s surprising, then, that developers have failed to jump onto Wii. With a standard controller like the Wii’s remote, it’s the ideal new home for the genre. Additionally, casual audiences would revel in its short-burst, shallow gameplay.
Sega’s Ghost Squad is one of the few logical consequences of this theory.
Even when dashing, tilting, and twisting in your unit’s search and rescue attempts, shooting is easy. It’s second-place to the GunCon’s intuitive accuracy, but still holds a suggestive position – everything that has worked before works here.
When Commander screams warnings (often followed by a clearly scripted studio response from a team-member – the voice-acting’s of striking imbalance), you know you have a diversion coming. Defusing bombs and similar work is a successful change of pace, a satisfying task in the middle of constant-warfare.
Sniping is a repeated task players will relish. Spraying bullets around hostages and into enemies is well balanced by this more considered, pain-staking challenge.
Ghost Squad is everything expected if it were the 90s, yet it’s curiously pleasing to behold. There’s a self-awareness apparent in the characters’ hackneyed qualities, aforementioned weak dialogue, and scripted video that demonstrates a global inability to shoot straight. It’s as if the developers are enthusiastically patting your back and chuckling with you.
There are visible scars from an arcade port: despite embracing branching level-advancement, this game experience won’t last ten hours, and there are a few frustrating moments where taking damage seems unavoidable (formerly a ploy to earn more money from one completion’s play).
Whether a doting tribute to the genre or a parody of it, Sega’s attempt remains successful – a return of the oft-recalled joy of light gun shooting. It demonstrates the feasability of anthology series for Time Crisis and House of the Dead, and, hopefully, should signal a rebirth of a missed genre.
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