I'm not sure what I was expecting from House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return for the Wii. Set up fairly modestly at a recent SEGA press event, decapitated foot draped over the corner of the table, it just seemed so obvious. I'd already played and enjoyed SEGA's existing Wii light-gun shooter Ghost Squad, the only light-gun game on the console that actually feels authentic (Wii Zapper and calibration combined), so surely this would be the same but with zombies, right? Right.
That of course isn't a bad thing. House of the Dead 2 ranks among my favourite Dreamcast titles and 3 was pretty much the only light-gun game of note on the Xbox. After a brief 20-minute session on the game it seems to offer exactly what it says on the box: House of the Dead 2 and House of the Dead 3. Sadly there's no sign of the original game in the series (a strange omission if you ask me), but the two games on offer appear to be fairly decent ports of the arcade games.
No Wii Zapper was present but it's highly likely that the game will function better with your controllers strapped to it, just as Ghost Squad did. A quick hunt around the options menu revealed the same calibration screen seen in Ghost Squad, so there are no worries there. Assuming you calibrate your Wii Remote correctly you shouldn't have any issues with aiming, even if you opt to use a Wii Remote on its own like you're zapping zombies with a TV remote control.
So, on to the games. There's little to say really. You have a gun (a shotgun in the case of HotD 3) and you need to shoot undead monsters before they attack and kill you. Headshots will usually result in a more instant death, while you can just unload a whole clip into an enemy if your aim isn't up to scratch - reloading is as simple as pointing the Wii Remote outside of the aiming zone. Despite being a few years old now, it's still satisfying to see parts of a zombie's head blasted off and there's still a thrill to be found when saving an innocent bystander from the undead horde.
For those unfamiliar with the series or light gun games in general, you play through a series of small sections, before encountering an end of level boss. In HotD 2 I came up against the axe wielding monster whose weak point is the flying gargoyle-like creature circling around it. In HotD 3 a rather dead car park attendant puts up a multi-part fight, charging at you until you've shot him enough times in the head. While the visuals on the Wii versions look a little rough in comparison to the arcade versions, they're more than adequate and only hardcore fans will see the differences.
There's not a lot more to say. Unless latter portions of each game run into serious problems House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return should please anyone looking for similar thrills to Ghost Squad. It's just a shame that SEGA didn't see fit to also include the first game in the series. Look for our full review ahead of the game's late March release date.