For 15 years, Silent Hill has proudly remained on the creepier end of the survival horror spectrum. It is also one of the most successful, despite what Konami's woeful cancellation of the highly promising Silent Hills may tell you (did you get the Playable Teaser on PS4 before they took it down?). In 2007, they brought the series to the arcades with this light gun shooter.
Light guns shooters come with their own tropes and design staples which are the antithesis of what a survival horror aims to be. When playing Silent Hill, you are constantly on edge, awaiting for that inevitable ghoul to jump out. All the while you're worrying if you have enough elusive ammo to survive such an encounter. You spend more time fearing about the fight that actually fighting. You also juggle a lot of keys.
Add a gun and an loud, busy arcade and this slow pace won't fly. Because of this Silent Hill: The Arcade has a very different feeling. There's no limit on the ammunition, there's no room for exploration with such linear paths and those hideous encounters are so frequent and unmenacing they will no longer haunt your dreams. These games are meant to be filled with frenetic quick-play action which leaves room for very little else.
Another step backwards is in the voice acting. Resident Evil may be known for its Jill sandwiches, masters of unlocking and other cheesey gems, but Konami's misty town had far more thought and talent put behind it. At a time when truly bad FMV games were a thing, this made it stand out, elevating it to one of the scariest interactive experiences even to this day. The arcade game didn't care so much for the script or acting, perhaps believing that it's expected of games of this type. What it actually does it make it feel more like SEGA's House of the Dead than Silent Hill.
Silent Hill: The Arcade may suffer something of an identity crisis, but that doesn't mean the game itself isn't any good. I had a lot of fun playing through the game, however there's nothing here that hasn't been done better in SEGA's seminal series. By including the franchise's signature heavy fog, it has a side effect of making the game much easier. No monsters can be too far away or else they'd be rendered invisible. Instead they pop up in front of you covering nearly the whole screen like some poorly dressed carnie on a cheap haunted house ride. Originally this mist was a way to hide any graphical glitches due to the technical limitations of the original PlayStation, but here it just makes these areas look a little dull and ugly.
Nevertheless, it does have a dedicated fanbase. Konami, in an earlier example of why they hate their audience (see the Kojima controversy), wouldn't ever bring it to any home system. In 2014 a talented group of people known as Insert More Coins (more details here) did what its makers would never do: port it to the PC. For a freely distributed amateur effort, it does a superb job of recreating the arcade game whose sightings in the wild become ever more infrequent. The resolution may be limited to 480p (they're working on that) but impressively there's no noticeable slowdown or graphical glitches. You can even repurpose your Nintendo Wiimote as a makeshift light gun (though it takes some technical know-how). The only major negative about this port is that it is single player only, a function that would take more time and skill to impliment than this talented team would have for the time being.
Due to there being very little documentation on this game, I thought I'd take a moment to describe the controls. They're just as basic as any other PC port of such games with the mouse and its left button acting as your gun. The right mouse button will pause the game, with the space bar acting as a turbo switch. Once your done, press ESC to exit. In a similar way to House of the Dead, there are different routes you can take and a multitude of ending - including the hidden WTF ending that's become a series staple since the second installment.
If you press start without any conception of what a Silent Hill game should be, you may find a lot to like about this entry that seems destined to be forgotten. It's a fun, short diversion and a curious attempt to do something different with a named franchise. It's just so disappointing that there's nothing new beyond this.
To download the game, follow the link below. This is a custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber will run natively on modern systems. Tested on Windows 7.
Silent Hill: The Arcade is © Konami
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me