Can we reclaim small arms games in the next generation, please?


It’s that time in the video game console cycle where we look forward to the next generation. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are coming – they even have names – and that means we can all sit back and dream about what we’d love to see from the generational shift.

It would be nice to see the machines focus less on another 8K resolution and instead see them double their performance, for example. When it comes to gaming franchises, I think Microsoft has a real golden opportunity to dig deep and bring back or restart old franchises – Fable, Perfect Dark, Banjo. But you know what I really want from the next generation, unlikely as that may be? I want small arms games to come back.

The PS4 and Xbox One generation of consoles were the first since the ’90s not to see a home release of a Time Crisis title. The PS1 and PS2 had multiple versions each, while the PS3 was blessed with the not-so-hot Time Crisis 4, which was actually a solid value for money from three different Namco arcade shooters. The series got a fifth entry in 2015, but it remained arcade-only, and for good reason – small arms games are hard to do on modern hardware.

House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn, the brand new arcade release from last year.

It has nothing to do with consoles, but rather with our modern flat screens. Their specs and refresh rate aren’t compatible with traditional small arms technology, so classics from previous generations won’t work on newer screens, while modern games force you to drape silly sensors all over your body. TV. It’s messy and it’s boring.

The Wii meant small arms shooters had a brief renaissance on this platform, but for true accuracy you need multiple sensors. No one wants to precariously flip three or four sensors around each edge of their two large OLED TVs and achieve even worse accuracy than in ’90s CRT display games. That was Time Crisis 4’s problem.

Packing lots of sensors increases the cost of any small arms pack, while the alternative is to market exclusively on an install basis of things like PlayStation VR – far from being able to pack in a gun at a slightly higher price. , because in the 90s. VR shooters, while cool, also take away that two-player social aspect of the genre. A close-range two-player showdown wouldn’t be the same in VR. All of these factors combine to mean that it’s no surprise that companies like Sega and Namco have chosen to stop releasing their console arcade shooter games even as they keep making new ones. .

Spin-offs exclusive to arcade games from movies or popular games are becoming more and more popular and often deserve a home release.

I think the time has come for a rebirth. People clearly want to play small arms games – that’s why things like The House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn and Crisis of time 5 exist despite the lack of console versions. Since the home ports of arcade shooters died, some US companies have also jumped into the action with triple-A shooters. Raw Thrills, the company behind those Big Buck Hunter games you get in dive bars, has spent the last few years releasing premium, license-based shooters like Aliens, Halo and Jurassic Park.

On top of that, we’re now in the age of constant reissues and remasters – and there are plenty of 30s out there with disposable income and huge amounts of nostalgia for things like Virtua Cop and Point Blank. One only has to go to one of the arcade-bar hybrids popping up all over the place to realize it: shooters always have the longest line.

But what about technical issues? Well, a solution might have come thanks – of course – to the enterprising community of emulation. Sinden Technology is a company that has developed the aptly named Sinden’s Pistol – a new type of weapon that just works on modern screens. The way it works is deceptively simple; There is a camera inside the gun that looks at the screen, and a small border is drawn around the game’s display on the screen. The camera can see the edge, and from there it can use smart but simple software to calculate exactly where inside those edges the gun is pointing, even if you’re standing at an odd angle and with little calibration. . You lose a bit of game resolution for the Frontier, but the results are profound. Take a look at a demo of it in action:

It’s so accurate that it could in fact outperform classic light guns of the 90s. The weapon was kickstartered last year for $ 32,000. and ended up making over $ 300,000. (Full disclosure: I supported the project). It has also caught the attention of some bigger companies, like high-end retro console maker Polymega, who licensed Sinden technology for his own light pistol.

As the project reaches the stage where production samples exist and backers holding the final product in their hands are in sight, what started as something designed for small arms games on PC and l emulation now has a much wider potential scope. Beyond the PC, Sinden technology is already compatible with a variety of original equipment like the PS2 – and its creator says supporting other hardware, including newer machines, is a relatively straightforward matter.

With the arrival of this HDTV-enabled and next-gen light gun technology, it really feels like it’s time for this classic genre to return to the living room. Companies like Sega and Namco should consider a Time Crisis 25th anniversary collection (it’s 25 this year) or a re-release of the House of the Dead trilogy, and they should pick up the phone and call Sinden to make it happen.

It can all be a crazy dream, of course. Game publishers have bigger fish to fry, and the great boom-and-bust of Guitar Hero plastic accessories from the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii era arguably contributed as much to publishers’ concern. regarding the shipment of small plastic guns only to landfill. But let me dream. May the next generation return home arcade shooter games.

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