The headline might be a surprise since it’s been a spell since I’ve mentioned the unique arcade twist of Devolver Digital’s Gungeon. The coin-op version, titled Enter The Gungeon: House of the Gundead, had planned on launching back in 2020 but alas, it was delayed like everything else that year. Fortunately for gamers and operators alike, the game’s development was not axed and today we have a plentitude of details on this new release, including some answers from Christopher Cruz of the development team.
For those who might have missed it when the news first hit, House of the Gundead has been developed by Griffin Aerotech in conjunction with Devolver Digital. GA first burst onto the scene with the development of Skycurser, a scrolling shoot ’em up that launched to arcades on their Airframe platform back in 2017. After contacting Devolver about the idea of bringing Enter The Gungeon to arcades, the idea quickly evolved into changing it from a twin-stick shooter into a coin-op light-gun game.
Here’s a side view of the production cabinet, showing off some sweet side art. It has changed since the 2019/20 debut; For those curious about details in that regard, keep on scrolling for my interview below. As for this style of light-gun shooter, it has been a while since we saw an upright cabinet with guns like this – the indie game Friction comes to mind as the last one, although that was over a decade ago at this point. Still, for space & budget conscious locations, this is a refreshing offer from games that keep taking up more space and taking much longer to pay off:
The new cabinet uses a 43″ LED UHD screen (i.e., 4K), a 2.1ch sound system that will “rattle your teeth,” and a “customized version of the Sinden light-gun system” that allows for unique recoil profiles for every weapon in the game (there are 40+ weapons so what this means is each one reacts differently on the feedback from the other). Also if you look closely, you’ll see it features bezel art & game instructions that feels almost 80s in the aesthetic.
Devolver has launched a new website to showcase the game, where operators (or collectors) interested in grabbing one can order direct. Purchasing outright lands this one at under $6000, which puts it into a very competitive category among arcade titles these days, as I’m sure ops know. They are open to distribution although are opting for the direct route for starters.
For those curious to find out more about how the game has changed from the original proposal and other features, check out my interview with Christopher Cruz, the game's creative director, below. Also, welcome to GA to the website as advertisers!
Arcade Heroes Asks: Christopher Cruz of Griffin Aerotech
AH: Has anything major changed from when you initially showed it off (such as the guns being used, the cabinet, etc)?
CC: The game was essentially rebuilt from the ground up since the proof of concept debuted at PAX East 2020. The fan response to the initial reveal really surprised everyone involved. So much so that Dodge Roll and Devolver Digital supported the game expanding to a much more ambitious scope and depth.
From a software perspective, we transitioned to Unity, allowing the Griffin Aerotech team to take better advantage of the foundation developed by Dodge Roll for the original Enter the Gungeon. Every aspect of the game was improved in this transition from both a visual and gameplay perspective.
Regarding the hardware, the additional time and resources allowed us to switch lightgun formats to the Sinden light gun technology. The game now runs a customized version of the Sinden platform with unique haptic feedback experiences for each of the game’s forty-plus weapons. The feeling of jumping from a simple handgun to a rocket launcher, then rapid-fire machine gun, with a completely unique recoil profile for each gun is something that hasn’t really been done before. Sinden has been a fantastic partner and we are thrilled with how the technology works.
AH: How long does a typical playthrough of the game take from start to finish?
CC: A full run through of the game takes about a half hour for an experienced player. However, like the original Enter the Gugeon game, the entire experience is procedurally generated so that no two playthroughs are exactly the same. This means that each time the player “runs” the game, they will encounter a unique experience of curated enemy spawns, rooms, power ups and weapons. This is on top of an in-depth rank and scoring system that seasoned arcade gamers would expect. Our goal was to create the most replayable light-gun experience possible while honoring the roguelike legacy of Enter the Gungeon.
AH: With the game being taken to various gaming events over the past year, how did user feedback shape the final product?
CC: We’ve shown the game at multiple player-focused events for the specific purpose of observing and documenting user feedback. We’ve also had location tests running since November. Those tests have been hosted at multiple locations of the independently-owned Free Play Arcade, who have been incredible supporters of Griffin Aerotech since the beginning. As you might expect, we’ve made multiple rounds of updates to the game as a result. Most of these updates centered around game balance and overall user experience while addressing any bugs encountered along the way.
AH: What kind of hardware specs are we looking at here?
CC: The game runs on a windows-based platform with several customizations for this application. Cloud-based remote updates and remote support capabilities are enabled via wifi. For sound, we spent a lot of time demoing different options before landing on the 2.1 system in the cabinets today (the sub will rattle your teeth). As far as the monitor we are running a professional 43” LED UHD panel which we found to produce the best image in a series of shoot outs against other options.
For the cabinet, it was very important for us that the overall profile have a very classic feel while being able to grab your attention in a crowded modern arcade. We couldn’t be happier with how the design turned out.
AH: Have you been in contact with any arcade distributors or have any plans on future tradeshows like Amusement Expo or IAAPA?
CC: We are taking a direct-to-consumer approach for the initial release of the game, but are open to entertaining conversations with distributors. As far as trade shows, we do plan on attending some of the larger tradeshows, but nothing has been finalized yet. Stay tuned for updates there.
AH: What's been the most challenging part of the development process?
CC: Any game developer will tell you the process of making a game is hard. Add on the complexity that the arcade introduces like hardware and software that needs to operate 12-16 hours a day 7 days a week and the task becomes even more challenging. Not to mention the impact that the pandemic had on every aspect of the project. However, our focus has always been to make the best possible experience for the player and the initial response to the project has been like rocket fuel to our team.
AH: What has it been like to work with Devolver?
CC: Devovler has been incredible in every possible way. They were the only publisher that we ever reached out to and we are beyond grateful for their support. This is an extremely ambitious project and they have been an incredible team to work with at every step of the way. It really is a “dream come true” situation in that regard.
My thanks to the Griffin Aerotech team for providing these details; I also want to thank them for buying an ad on the site. If you are a gamer who would like to play this at your local arcade, let your operator know; If you are an op, then give it consideration!