Death Crimson OX, from Ecole and Sammy, is the latest and perhaps last light-gun game for the flagging Dreamcast. Sega's own House of the Dead series has leapt to newer systems in the form of spiritual sequel Vampire Night on the PlayStation 2 and actual sequel House of the Dead 3 on the Xbox. Thus Death Crimson is left to pick up the slack for Dreamcast-owning fans of arcade shooting games, but unfortunately, it will surely leave these poor souls wanting for more.
Let's not mince words: Death Crimson OX is a House of the Dead clone. It shamelessly resembles Sega's classic shooter series in nearly every way you can think of. The once-picturesque town ravaged by a horde of monsters, the kidnapped female, the sort-of-hard rockin' soundtrack--it's all here. The problem is, it's not nearly as good. True, House of the Dead had camp value thanks to shoddy voice acting and a goofy storyline, but Death Crimson OX is so cheesy it can't be taken seriously. The game focuses on the SMO organization and its leader, Admiral Zaza, who has kidnapped a freedom fighter named Lily. Her daughter Yuri and troubled friend Kou set out with the bafflingly ancient and mythical pistol Crimson to kill lots of monsters and eventually stop SMO.
Anyone who's played a light-gun game in the last five years will know exactly what to expect from Death Crimson OX. One or two players blast their way through a linear progression of levels, wasting enemies with abandon, sparing civilians who get in the way, and nabbing the occasional power-up item. Of course, defeating the big bad monster with the requisite weak point at the end of a level takes you through a short story sequence and on to the next kill-fest. Despite indications on the packaging, the game is playable with a light gun or the standard Dreamcast controller. Indeed, using a gun is the preferred method, as in the later stages, the game becomes obscenely difficult when using a controller for aiming.
Death Crimson OX contains three gameplay modes: story, mission, and bullet. The story mode simply sends you through all the levels from beginning to end, revealing the story as you go. Mission mode lets you select any level to play and omits all story details. Finally, bullet mode has you play the game with a finite amount of ammo--you have to finish each stage with the allotted number of bullets. Extra modes are always a nice gesture, but after the main game is played through a couple of times, these don't really add enough meat to keep the replay value high.
It's hard to recommend Death Crimson OX to anyone but the truly desperate light-gun fanatic. It offers nothing new to the genre, and frankly, it's surpassed by older light-gun games. Perhaps Death Crimson's only saving grace is its sub-$20 price tag, but House of the Dead 2 also retails for that price--the choice is easy. If you've already beaten that game and really, really want more, you might give Death Crimson OX a rental, but that's a big if.