The House of the Dead (video game)

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The House of the Dead
Developer(s) Wow Entertainment
Publisher(s) Sega
Director(s) Takashi Oda
Composer(s) Tetsuya Kawauchi
Series The House of the Dead
Platform(s) Arcade, Saturn, Microsoft Windows, mobile phone
Release date(s) Arcade
  • JP: September 13, 1996
  • WW: March 4, 1997
  • JP: March 26, 1998
  • NA: March 31, 1998
  • EU: 1998
Genre(s) Rail shooter
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
Cabinet Upright
Arcade system Sega Model 2
Display Raster, medium resolution
horizontal orientation

The House of the Dead is a first-person light gun arcade game, first released by Sega in Japan in September 13, 1996, with the international released following in March 4, 1997.

Players assume the role of agents Thomas Rogan and "G" in their efforts to combat the products of the dangerous, inhumane experiments of Dr. Curien, a mad scientist.


The House of the Dead is a rail shooter light gun game. Players use a light gun (or mouse, in the PC version) to aim and shoot at approaching zombies. The characters' pistols use magazines which hold 6 rounds; players reload by shooting away from the screen. A set of torches next to the magazine of each player represents remaining health. When a player sustains damage or shoots a civilian, one of their torches is removed. The player dies when all torches are lost. First-aid packs are available throughout the game which restore one torch. These are found either in the possession of civilians whom the player has rescued or inside breakable objects. Similarly, there are also special items located in breakable objects that will grant a bonus to whoever shoots it.

Throughout the course of the game, players are faced with numerous situations in which their action (or inaction) will have an effect on the direction of gameplay. This is exemplified in the opening stage of the game when a civilian is about to be thrown from the bridge to his death. If the player saves the civilian, they will enter the house directly through the front door; however, if the player fails to rescue the civilian, the character is redirected to an underground route through the sewers. If the player rescues all civilians, a secret room full of lives and bonuses is revealed toward the end of the game.


On December 18, 1998, seven years after the events of The House of the Dead: Overkill, AMS Agent Thomas Rogan receives a distressing phone-call from his fiancée, Sophie Richards, at the Curien Mansion, the home and laboratory of Dr. Roy Curien, a renowned biochemist and geneticist. Amidst a series of ominous occurrences and disappearances at the mansion, Rogan arrives on the scene with his new partner, Agent G, to immediately discover the estate overrun with hellish creations. A mortally wounded man gives them a small field journal showing information about all of Curien's deadly creations and their weak points. It is used every time the player(s) is confronted by a boss.

It is revealed that Curien was obsessed with discovering the nature of life and death. While supported by the DBR Corporation and its own team of scientists, Curien's relentless pursuit of this goal slowly drove him insane, with his behavior growing more erratic and the nature of his experiments beginning to take a gruesome turn. Curien's plan for his research ultimately resulted in the release of his experimental subjects free into his mansion. Wasting no time, Rogan and G storm inside the mansion in order to find and save Sophie, as well as the several other scientist trapped inside, where they witness first-hand the terror unleashed by Curien's zombies and abominations.

When Rogan and "G" arrive at the mansion, they find Sophie, but she is just as soon captured by a gargoyle bat-like abomination called the Hangedman, who takes her away to the mansion. They later find Sophie in an empty room, but she is knocked against a wall by the Chariot, a gray armored supersoldier carrying a blood-stained halberd. Rogan and G defeat Chariot and attend to Sophie, who seemingly succumbs to her injuries. Rogan, in a fit of rage, goes off to avenge his fiancée by seeking out the Hangedman. He and G find him on the rooftops surrounding the courtyard, where he intends to stop them. He then drops two scientists to their deaths before fighting Rogan and G. He nearly kills them by knocking them off the roof, but they manage to hang on and continue fighting. They finally shoot him down, causing him to fall to his death.

The two push on to find Dr. Curien, while having to fight an even larger horde of zombies in the process. They eventually reach him, but he escapes into his underground laboratory and releases the Hermit, a giant spider crab monster, to finish them. They manage to kill it, and continue the chase.

Upon confronting Curien a second time, the AMS agents are introduced to his masterpiece, The Magician, a humanoid demon-esque creature that possesses a mastery of fire. After Curien releases the creature from his incubation chamber, the Magician reveals himself to be self-aware, refusing to serve any master; Dr. Curien is subsequently killed by his own creation. To prevent the Magician from escaping the mansion and destroying the world, Rogan and 'G' confront him in one final battle. Before dying, the Magician gives one last, chilling warning, and then explodes. Rogan and 'G' leave the mansion, taking one last look at it from the outside.

There are, however, alternate endings that the player can achieve upon completing the game. One ending, in which the camera pans to the foyer one last time; the doors open, revealing Sophie to be alive, running towards the camera saying "Thank you!", showing that her injury from earlier did not kill her. Another shows Sophie having become an undead—the last corpse remaining. Which ending the player gets depends on the player's final score and the number of continues used.


  • Thomas Rogan: A young trained AMS agent who arrives at the Curien Mansion to investigate a series of recent disappearances, alarming events and rescuing missions at the Curien Mansion. His fiancée is Sophie Richards, from whom he receives a distressed phone call, is an employee at the mansion. He, along with Agent G, must hurry to save Rogan's fiancée and, in the process, uncover evidence of depraved scientific endeavor and soon become attestors to the birth of a horrifying evil that must be stopped from leaving the mansion. The character's last name was misspelled as "Rowgun" on the arcade cabinet.
  • Agent "G": An mysterious AMS agent and Rogan's partner, who accompanies Rogan to the Curien Mansion. If players choose him as the first character, the in-game dialogue in the scene will change, for example, Sophie will address him differently upon arrival at the mansion.
  • Dr. Roy Curien: An acclaimed biochemist and geneticist who worked for the DBR Corporation and the main antagonist of the game. He was responsible for The Curien Mansion Incident. He was obsessed with discovering the very nature of life and death, which eventually drove him mad. His increasingly questionable methods and experiments garnered the suspicion and alarm of his colleagues, until it was too late. His deteriorating mental state culminated in the creation and wanton release of hideous monsters from the laboratory to the mansion and surrounding estate. Thanks to the efforts of Rogan and G, the creatures were prevented from escaping the mansion grounds.
  • Sophie Richards: Rogan's fiancée,(After)Beloved Wife. She tried to call Rogan for help upon onset of the disaster. She managed to escape the mansion, but was somehow knocked unconscious and is found by Rogan lying in front of a fountain in the front courtyard. She awakes and runs for Rogan/G but is captured and brought back into the house by The Hanged Man. She is later found in a large room inside the mansion, but is severely wounded by The Chariot. Her survival depends on the rating the player receives upon completion of the game. If the player gets 60,000 score or above, the good ending scene appeared. If below 60,000, she is the undead - the last corpse. While the player's performance would determine her survival in the first game, canonically she survived, married, and had a daughter with Rogan, whom they named Lisa Rogan.


Review scores
Publication Score
PC Saturn
AllGame 4/5 stars[1] 4/5 stars[2]
CVG 5/10[3] N/A
Edge N/A 7/10[4]
Game Informer N/A 8/10[5]
Game Revolution N/A C[6]
GameSpot N/A 7.3/10[7]
PC Gamer (US) 88%[8] N/A
PC Zone 76%[9] N/A
Aggregate score
GameRankings 63%[10] 71%[11]

The House of the Dead garnered generally positive reviews, the arcade version being held in the highest regard with AllGame awarding it 4.5 out of 5 stars.[12] However, the Saturn and PC versions gained slightly less praise due to their lack of polish, getting "mixed" or "average" reviews according to the review aggregation website GameRankings.[11][10]

When Indianapolis attempted to ban violent video games it argued that The House of the Dead was obscene and so unprotected by the First Amendment. This required U.S. Appeals Court Judge Richard Posner to review the game at length, ultimately finding Indianapolis’ ban was unconstitutional. Unimpressed by the graphics, Judge Posner wrote “The most violent game in the record, "The House of the Dead," depicts zombies being killed flamboyantly, with much severing of limbs and effusion of blood; but so stylized and patently fictitious is the cartoon-like depiction that no one would suppose it "obscene" in the sense in which a photograph of a person being decapitated might be described as "obscene." It will not turn anyone's stomach.”[13]


The game was ported in 1998 to Sega Saturn by Tantalus, and to Windows (PC-CD) by Sega. The conversion suffered from somewhat rushed development.[14] Official Sega Saturn Magazine criticized the graphics and frame-rate of the game, which ran at 20 frames per second. However, extra game modes were added to the port which include a home specific mode that allows the player to select a character; and also a boss battle mode, which pits the player against the game bosses back to back.

The Sega Saturn version had a slightly remixed soundtrack, compared to the arcade version of the game. On stage 2, there is a reference to the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, as the words the words Challenger, go at throttle up, spoken by Richard O. Covey from the mission control room only seconds before the explosion, can be heard three times before the music loops.[15] While these words do not appear in the arcade version, a snickering laugh can be heard instead.


  1. ^ House, Matthew. "The House of the Dead (PC) - Review". AllGame. Archived from the original on 2014-11-13. Retrieved 2016-09-28. 
  2. ^ House, Michael L. "The House of the Dead (SAT) - Review". AllGame. Archived from the original on 2014-11-13. Retrieved 2016-09-28. 
  3. ^ Randell, Kim (1998). "PC Review: House of the Dead". Computer and Video Games. Retrieved 2014-02-16. [dead link]
  4. ^ Edge staff (April 1998). "House of the Dead (SAT)". Edge (57). 
  5. ^ "The House of the Dead (SAT)". Game Informer (61). May 1998. 
  6. ^ Ferris, Duke (September 1998). "The House of the Dead Review (SAT)". Game Revolution. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  7. ^ Fielder, Joe (1998-04-23). "The House of the Dead Review (SAT)". GameSpot. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  8. ^ Williamson, Colin (December 1998). "House of the Dead". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on 2000-03-03. Retrieved 2014-03-26. 
  9. ^ "PC Review: The House of the Dead". PC Zone. 1998. 
  10. ^ a b "The House of the Dead for PC". GameRankings. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  11. ^ a b "The House of the Dead for Saturn". GameRankings. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  12. ^ Baize, Anthony. "The House of the Dead (ARC) - Review". AllGame. Archived from the original on 2014-11-13. Retrieved 2016-09-28. 
  13. ^ American Amusement Machine Ass'n v. Kendrick, 244 F.3d 572 (7th Cir. 2001).
  14. ^
  15. ^ Tetsuya Kawauchi (October 29, 2011). "The House Of The Dead Music: Chapter 2". Sega Saturn. 

Further reading[edit]

  • "The House of the Dead". EGM². June 1997. 

External links[edit]