Developer: SEGA
Price: $4.99
Version: 1.00
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

IMG_0363As a reviewer, it is rare that you get the opportunity to have a personal connection to a game or franchise. When speaking for myself, that game is House of the Dead: Overkill. Way back in 2009, it was the first game that I reviewed professionally, which I then followed up with a review of the PS3 version a couple of years later. Both earlier iterations of Overkill were blissfully self-aware light-gun disasters that were so bad that they ended up coming back around to being good again. Can the iOS outing meet the same bar of campy machismo that made the original so appealing, or does it struggle to flex its proverbial muscle on the small screen?

On-rails shooters are a rare breed nowadays in gaming. Though they were a staple of the arcade era, they have seen a significant drop off in both market saturation and quality over the last couple of decades. This is what made House of the Dead: Overkill such an unexpectedly fun success. This time out, The Lost Reels collection consists of a couple of early levels in the game, broken up into more digestible chunks of gameplay. Each of the levels are stages of heavily scripted monster closets, punctuated with a boss battle.

What is contained in the base $4.99 download is the first two stages of the re-mixed campaign. Let it be known that the term “re-mixed” is actually code for a drastically pared down version of the original game. By virtue of the title’s on-rails mechanics, every interaction with the undead is heavily scripted and totally predictable, as are the extremely minimalistic character designs and canned animations. If players can aim high and be persistent, most of the core game can be beaten in under an hour.

IMG_0370Despite the campaign’s brevity, it is highly replayable thanks to unlockable weapons that can be purchased using the earned in-game currency. After struggling to complete a level when armed with a shotgun and pistol, it is tremendously satisfying to blow through the same mission using a minigun later on. Just remember to save those pretty pennies, because they will become crucial in the later stages. Also, there is a third set of stages that can be purchased in-app, for $1.99 that will undoubtedly explore more of the original game’s rather extensive content.

As fun as dismembering brain-munchers can be in House of the Dead Overkill – The Lost Reels, it starts to feel like a grind midway through the second batch of stages. Given that it doesn’t even take an hour to reach this point, it may mean that each player’s mileage may vary. That said, popping zombie melons on iOS proves to be just as fun as its console predecessors, even without the aid of a Wiimote.

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