The House of the Dead (series)
|The House of the Dead|
The logo of the first and second game
|Genres||Light gun shooter
|Platforms||Arcade, Saturn, Microsoft Windows, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Game Boy Advance, Xbox, Nintendo DS, Wii, PlayStation 3, Mobile|
|Platform of origin||Arcade|
|First release||The House of the Dead
|Latest release||The House of the Dead 4
As of 2009, there are five House of the Dead games originating in a first person rail shooter format available. The main series all have common elements of a pair of agents teaming up to take on hordes of biologically engineered undead (referred to as 'mutants' in Overkill). The games are divided into chapters, each of which culminates in a boss battle against usually massive, terrifying creatures. The bosses in games 1-4 are all named after the Major Arcana of occult tarot. The games are all controlled with a light gun in the arcades, but can be played with controllers or a mouse on consoles or the computer. HOtD 3 and 4 can also be played using the PlayStation Move controller following the downloadable releases on PlayStation Network.
Gameplay elements differ among the different games in the series, with each having different characters, firearms, and types of enemies. In many of the games, there are branching paths (determined by one's actions) and unlockable bonuses, along with different endings based on one's performance.
Several spin-offs to the mainstream storyline have also been produced (including a virtual pinball game, an English tutorial and a typing tutorial), as well as two films. In addition, select enemy characters appearing in the first two games were adapted into fully articulated action figures by Palisade Toys, which canceled the second toy line before street release due to limited returns from the first series.
Gameplay elements 
The main gameplay mechanic is the gun. The type of gun varies with the game. The first two installments featured pistols, the third featured a shotgun, and the fourth featured a submachine gun. Overkill features different firearms which can be changed to the players' liking. The player must clear each area of zombies. The instructions on the cabinets note that a head shot is the most effective way to kill zombies.
Successful clearing will result in boss battles. Before most battles, the game will show what the bosses' weak point is. Final bosses have no identifiable weak point. If the boss is shot enough times, it will recoil; otherwise, it will take one of the player's lives. All of the bosses in the first four House of the Dead games are named after Major Arcana cards. They are also classified by 'types', which are shown as either a number or Greek letter.
There are also some different branching paths in the games, that are usually accessed by shooting a door or an object and sometimes when a civilian is killed.
The first two The House of the Dead games featured civilians. If the player successfully rescued civilians from the zombies, the civilian would sometimes reward the player with an extra life. The last two games did not feature civilians. In the third game, occasionally the player's partner would get in trouble and the player would be rewarded if he or she saved the partner's life. Players can also obtain extra lives by shooting boxes, crates, vases and destructible scenery.
The first four arcade games have multiple endings, depending on how well the player did in terms of civilians rescued, shooting percentage, score, and lives left. Every game has one "bad" ending, usually involving one of the characters transforming into a zombie. The ending will also change depending on if one or two players are playing.
Main series 
Every game in the main series is an on-rails light-gun shooter and chronologically runs as follows: 1 - 2 - 4 (& Special) - III.
The House of the Dead (1997) 
On December 18, 1998, the insane and disillusioned Dr. Curien plans to mobilize his armies of undead unto the unsuspecting populace. AMS agents Thomas Rogan and "G" are dispatched to his mansion to put a stop to the madman and rescue Sophie Richards, Rogan's fiancée.
The House of the Dead 2 (1998) 
On February 26, 2000, Goldman, the man behind the Curien Mansion case, claims responsibility. Fueled by his detest of humankind's complete lack of responsibility toward its assigned task, Goldman initiates an attack on Venice while his Emperor project develops. Two new agents named James Taylor and Gary Stewart are sent in to tackle this case.
The House of the Dead III (2002) 
In the post-apocalyptic world of 2019, Thomas Rogan and his team of commandos infiltrate the EFI Research Facility in hopes of finding the source of the planet's collapse. Losing contact with him, his daughter Lisa Rogan and former partner "G" set out on a search and recover mission, unaware that what awaits them has ties to the distant past and the very genesis of the undead horde.
The House of the Dead 4 (2005) 
This game is set in the year 2003 and fills the gap between the second and third games. It features veteran AMS agent James Taylor (who was one of the main protagonists in The House of the Dead 2) and newcomer Kate Green, who are investigating the Goldman Incident of 2000. Following a sudden earthquake, they are shocked to discover that the undead from three years prior have returned, seemingly unharmed, and locked in a lab, but they soon break out and wreak havoc once again. Intent on preventing a nuclear disaster, they must once again cross paths with the seemingly deceased Goldman.
The House of the Dead 4 Special, a two-player arcade attraction with events following the end of The House of the Dead 4, was also released, making use of two screens and rotating seats to switch between them.
Spin-off titles 
Zombie Revenge (1999) 
Zombie Revenge is a Beat 'em up that was released in arcades and the Dreamcast. After a zombie outbreak devastates the city, AMS agents Stick Breitling, Linda Rotta and Rikiya Busujima are sent to eliminate the threat using their guns, fists and a variety of other weapons, while uncovering the truth behind the mysterious Zed. The game makes numerous references to the series it's based on, including the Curien Mansion from The House of the Dead serving as the final stage.
The Typing of the Dead (2000) 
The Typing of the Dead is a revision of The House of the Dead 2 that replaces the game's light guns with QWERTY keyboards. Enemies are defeated by quickly typing out words that appear on the screen, and introduces a variety of challenges. Although designed to improve typing skills, the game has been lauded by critics for its humor and originality. The game was released for arcades, Dreamcast and PC, while a revised version was released for the PlayStation 2 only in Japan.
The Pinball of the Dead (2000) 
The Pinball of the Dead is a pinball game released for the Game Boy Advance. Tables, bosses and enemy designs are derived from The House of the Dead 2.
The Typing of the Dead 2 (2007-08) 
Similar to its predecessor, The Typing of the Dead 2 is a revision of The House of the Dead III while retaining the typing gameplay elements of the previous title. It was only released in Japan for the arcade and PC.
English of the Dead (2000) 
Released in Japan exclusively for the Nintendo DS, the game is designed to help Japanese speakers improve their English language skills. Playing similar to the Typing of the Dead games, enemies are defeated when Japanese words shown on-screen are translated into English. The game makes use of the DS touch screen and speakers.
The House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return (2008) 
The House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return is a re-release of The House of the Dead 2 and III for the Nintendo Wii. It is largely the same as the originals, except for some minor changes. A new melee attack can be used to defend oneself and the game is Wii Zapper compatible.
The House of the Dead EX (2009) 
The House of the Dead EX is a more casual spin-off to the main games and adds a more humorous twist to the series. Players play either Zobio or Zobiko, a pair of young zombies in love, who seek to escape from captivity. As opposed to the general gameplay of the series, EX's levels are made up of a series of minigames. Sections are split up into various paths, some of which use the lightgun, such as shooting apples, and others which use a foot pedal on the machine, such as stomping on spiders. The goal of each level is to fulfil a quota within the time limit, indicated by long hands reaching towards each other. It runs on the Lindbergh arcade system and is also the first game in the series to use a pedal. The game was slated for release in December 2008, but was released later in 2009.
The House of the Dead: Overkill (2009) 
In 1991, Agent G, on his first assignment, teams up with local cop Issac Washington to investigate mysterious disappearances in Louisiana. Unfortunately, they encounter hordes of mutants in Bayou City. Overkill is also the first and only game to use bosses that are not named after Major Arcana cards. It was originally released for the Nintendo Wii in February 2009, while an "Extended Cut" version was ported to the PlayStation 3 as a Move-compatible game in October 2011.
Appearances in other games 
Sega Superstars 
Sega Superstars Tennis 
The series is also represented in Sega Superstars Tennis, where the mansion is a playable court and there is also a minigame in which players must aim their shots to fend off a horde of oncoming zombies. In this game, the series is referred to as "Curien Mansion" instead of The House of the Dead because the series is banned in Germany.
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing 
Again represented as Curien Mansion, the series is represented in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing with three race tracks, and the rider's duo Zobio and Zobiko (only Zobio on the Nintendo DS) from The House of the Dead: EX. During their All-Star move, Zobio drinks a magic potion which makes him grow in size and he then slams his opponents with his strength while Zobiko rides him.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed 
A brand new racetrack appears in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, with zombies and various monsters making appearances. Zobio and Zobiko make cameo appearances in the stage as well. Once again, the series is called Curien Mansion.
- Thomas Rogan: Introduced in the first The House of the Dead as one of the two playable protagonists. Rogan is tasked along with "G" to investigate the incident at Curien Mansion. His fiancée Sophie Richards is among the hostages. He makes a cameo appearance in the "good" ending of House of the Dead 2 encouraging James and Gary to fight on to their next battle. He returns as a brief playable character in the opening stage of House of the Dead III, leading a strike force to investigate a zombie-infested facility with his commanding troops. His daughter Lisa sets out to investigate his disappearance, accompanied by his old partner, "G".
- Agent "G": Agent "G" is introduced as the second playable and protagonist of the first game and other series, and is the only character to appear in every game in the main series. He makes a cameo in the second game, having been injured in the zombie attack. He is one of the main playable characters in the third game, investigating Rogan's disappearance with Rogan's daughter, Lisa. He makes a cameo in one of the endings in House of the Dead 4, and is playable once again in House of the Dead 4 Special. He is also one of the main characters in Overkill, which has him as a well-trained but inexperienced rookie on his first assignment.
- James Taylor: The main protagonist in House of the Dead 2 and 4. In the fourth game he sacrifices himself to kill the World, the final boss.
- Gary Stewart: The second protagonist in the second game. He also makes a brief cameo appearance in the fourth game in a flashback segment.
- Roy Curien: The main antagonist in the first game. A mad scientist responsible for creating the zombies and unleashing them on his personnel from the laboratory deep within his mansion. Prior to the final battle, he met his demise at the hands of his creation, The Magician. Flashback segments in the third game reveal that he was originally seeking a cure for an illness threatening his son Daniel's life, descending into madness as his findings led him toward power controlling life and death. He would undergo a 19-year resurrection process since his demise, in which he would be reborn as his final creation, the Wheel of Fate. The Wheel was finally destroyed for good by his son Daniel and Lisa Rogan and put him to rest.
- Caleb Goldman: The main antagonist of House of the Dead 2 and 4. A man who detests mankind's role in the world, he helped finance Curien's experiments in the first game before unleashing his own. He commits suicide in the second game's ending, but not before arranging a backup plan which would shape the events of the fourth game, in which he would also reappear in several flashback segments and recordings.
- The Mystery Man is a unidentified figure in a suit who appears at the end of the third and fourth games. Fans of the series have speculated that this could be Harry Harris, a supporting and unplayable AMS agent that is seriously injured by Strength in House of the Dead 2, he confirming as either a supporting character or an antagonist.
- The Magician: Curien's masterpiece and principal antagonist. The most intelligent of his creations, the Magician has the power of pyrokinesis and can dash around quickly. Introduced as the final boss of the first game, this recurring boss has made numerous appearances in the series. Refusing to take orders from an inferior being, he turned on his creator and set out to destroy the world, but met his demise at the hands of Rogan and "G". He is resurrected by Goldman in the second game, confronting James and Gary to prevent them from stopping the birth of the Emperor. His weak points are his exposed muscles. He makes a cameo appearance as a bonus item in the third game, before reprising his role as the final boss once again in The House of the Dead 4 Special, with the intent of unleashing his army of clones throughout the world. A variant of this character also appears as the final boss in the spin-off game Zombie Revenge under the name Black Magician Type 01.
Other characters 
- Dan Taylor: A secondary playable protagonist and playable character in The House of the Dead III, his was soon to be revealed as a cousin of James (a protagonist in The House of the Dead 2 and The House of the Dead 4), he was last seen in Curien's abandoned factory with Thomas Rogan, where the Rogan Commandoes were being killed by the undead, leaving Dan survive during in the gameplay and the scenes. He was one of the uninfected survivors.
- Harry Harris: Minor character in The House of the Dead 2 where he was badly injured by Strength.
- Amy Crystals: Harry's ally.
Film adaptations 
In 2003, the first film, directed by Uwe Boll and produced by Brightlight Pictures, was released. Given limited theatrical release with the intent of becoming a cult film, it served as a loose prequel to the game, but received very poor reviews and little box office return.
In 2004, a sequel to the first film was greenlit. The previous director was unable to direct the sequel due to commitments to his other films, and Michael Hurst was chosen to take his place. This movie is the closest to its source, featuring AMS agents going to a school to stop a zombie outbreak from spreading.
Another sequel was announced. Mindfire Entertainment co-founder Mark Altman has stated in discussions that "It's a completely different approach to the material than the first two films." It was also stated that it may not be called House of the Dead 3 as Sega wasn't releasing the latest installment on home consoles." Eventually Mindfire Entertainment released Dead and Deader starring Dean Cain and the House Of the Dead name was not attached.
In Walt Disney Animation Studios' 52nd Animated feature length film, Wreck-It Ralph, a Zombie based on Cyril (the hatchet-wielding zombie) appears with numerous other video game villains in the Villain's support group Bad-Anon. The Zombie tries to reassure Wreck-It Ralph that labels won't make him happy and that good or bad, he must love himself for who he is.
- McWhertor, Michael. "The House Of The Dead EX Is All About Zombie Love And Mini-Games". Kotaku.com. Retrieved 2008-07-19.
- "House of the Dead EX". Highway Games. Retrieved 2008-07-19.
- House of the Dead 3 Movie Coming news from 1UP.com
- Sega's official Japanese The House of the Dead III page
- Sega's official Japanese The House of the Dead 4 page
- House of the Dead, an external wiki