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Video Game: House of the Dead
aka: House OF The Dead
They've come for brains. You'll give them... bullets.

A series of arcade light gun games starring finely dressed federal agents mowing down armies of zombies. The story content of all four games essentially amounts to:

1) Zombies are being untidy and making an administrative burden of themselves.
2) Sharp-dressed agents of the AMS arrive and resolve to stop the crisis.
3) The villain will mention something about the threat of a Malthusian catastrophe (and the first doesn't even bother with that).
4) But it doesn't matter to the protagonists 'cause they're suffused with the strength to forge on, no matter what! Yeah!

However, if you still feel more intricate details are needed, we've a page for that.

Known for its fast-paced shooting and Multiple Endings, the House of the Dead series is one of those games that many play, but few ever beat (at least not without a small fortune in coins, that is). The first two games (especially the second) were infamous for hilariously bad voice-overs that left you thinking the voice actors must have been instructed to sound as bored as possible, as well as an extremely stilted-sounding translation. If you want to play a shooter game which emphasizes horror and uses traditional zombies, then you are looking at the wrong game. House of the Dead goes in the opposite direction: the majority of zombies in these games either are fast, wield weapons, have supernatural powers or are just very fat. Boss fights are a major example of these deviations with boss creatures barely resembling "traditional" zombies at all, often taking the form of some freakish abomination.

None of this stops the series from being fun. Just don't stop here expecting a gripping story, nuanced characters, or some kind of social message. But then again, it is an arcade game which rarely have much of a story. Though if you're curious, see here for a brief recap.

The series has had ports over its run; House of the Dead 1 was ported over to Sega Saturn, House of the Dead 2 got ported to the Sega Dreamcast, and House of the Dead 3 was ported on the original Xbox. All three of these games also had ports on Windows PC. The second and third game in the series later got re-released in 2008 for the Wii in The House of Dead 2 & 3 Return compilation while House of the Dead 3 and 4 got re-released as downloadable games on the PlayStation Network in 2012.

The latest game in the series (story-wise), the Wii-exclusive The House Of The Dead Overkill, is a prequel that takes the unintentionally bad voice-acting and runs with it, resulting in a B-Movie grindhouse-style presentation. The game's mere existence could qualify as a Moment Of Awesome for the series as a whole. An Updated Re-release, House of the Dead: Overkill - Extended Cut, was later released for the PlayStation 3 with PlayStation Move support. A PC port of the Extended Cut followed just in time for Halloween 2013, as The Typing of the Dead: Overkill, though it can also be played with just the mouse or a controller as a straight-up Overkill port.

This isn't all to the series, as there are multiple side games as well. They are as followed:
  • Zombie Revenge: A Beat 'em Up released on the arcade and Dreamcast that acts as a side story to the main series with new characters.
  • Typing of the Dead, which is basically a re-release of House of the Dead 2, only now instead of bullets you kill with powered keyboards, followed by two sequels, which rehashed House of the Dead 3 and Overkill (Look, don't knock until you've tried it, okay?).
  • The Pinball Of The Dead for the Game Boy Advance. Exactly What It Says on the Tin, a pinball game with the ''House of the Dead'' Theme.
  • House of the Dead 4 Special: A rare arcade that serves as a continuation of the original 4th installment, this time the game being made into a motion ride of sorts that switches between two screens as the zombies come after you. This included in the PlayStation 3 version of House of the Dead 4 download on the PlayStation Network.
  • House of the Dead EX: A rather comical departure for the series that puts you in the role of two runaway undead lovebirds as they face against adversaries who try to split them apart. Unlike the last games, this one is more of a mini-game compilation. Sadly never saw a release outside of Japan... Legally note 
  • And lastly, the Sega Superstars series features House of the Dead cameos, the most prominent being Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, with three tracks taking place in the Curien Mansion and the aforementioned runaway undead lovebirds as playable racers. The sequel, Sega All Star Racing Transformed only featured one track and dropped the two from the roster however.

So there you have it, 'till the fifth installment.


How could anyone do this?

  • Achilles' Heel: All bosses (even monsters with supposedly "unknown" weaknesses) have these. Usually some form of note would appear to highlight the weakness, although the exact nature of the clue varies from game to game: the first two HOTD games make use of research notes, while HOTD 4 has a PDA scan. HOTD 3 and Overkill don't even come up with an excuse for what's giving the heroes a hint.
    • One of the best examples: Hierophant, a hideous frog thing whose chest bursts open every time it takes a breath for an easy potshot at its heart. It's one of the easiest boss battles in the series.
    • However, while each game's final boss will always have an "Unknown" weakness, one glance at them will pretty much give away where you need to insert the bullets.
  • After the End: House of the Dead 3, where the Zombie Apocalypse has gone global. It's lasted sixteen years.
  • Action Girl: Lisa Garland in the third movie.
    • Oh, yeah. And Lisa Rogan in 3.
    • And Kate in 4.
  • Always Night: While the first game seems quite dark, all the sequels are closer to "always overcast". Overkill eventually makes it to sunset; Extended Cut, in turn, does the opposite.
  • Appendage Assimilation: The giant wall of faces of The Sun from the third game.
  • Artifact Title: It's more like "ridiculously huge mansion of the dead", even in the first game. The second and fourth games are more along the lines of "City of the Dead". At the very least, the third game somewhat counts, as it takes place in a gigantic skyscraper.
    • Averted if you interpret 'house' in the classical sense, a la The Fall of the House of Usher. It then becomes "The Place Where the Dead Are In Charge", which fits excellently.
  • An Axe to Grind: In all the games, often in a cross position to force the player to blow off the head or shoot their guts until they keel over.
  • Badass Longcoat: Rogan.
  • Badass Normal: All of the main protagonists. Lampshaded in OVERKILL a ton.
    • "The G stands fo' GENOCIDE, muthafucka!"
  • Big Bad: Dr. Roy Curien, then Caleb Goldman.
    • And in one of The House of the Dead 4's endings, it's implied that there's an even Bigger Bad at work; a mysterious limping man complains that "Goldman was too soft." His appearance in III and 4 have led to a fair amount of Wild Mass Guessing, much of which involves a sequel to 4.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: The mansion in the first game could be considered a more "mundane" version of this trope. There are lots of physical undead, but no ghosts or any other type of spirit. However, the Magician possesses psychic powers.
  • Boom, Headshot: The best way to kill the zombies.
  • Bond One-Liner: Lisa Rogan tries to pull these off at regular intervals. Highlights include "I never was any good at gardening", after blowing away a giant evil plant, and "When a lady says no, she means it!", regarding a rather persistent security guard... with a giant stick.
    • Kate Green has one with "How do you like my low fat, all lead diet?" [[spoiler:after dropping a huge clock on top of Temperance's head.]
  • Boss Rush: During the last levels of HOTD 2, you'll have to face a revived Judgement, Hierophant, Magician, and Tower before dealing with the final boss.
    • The first game made the player re-fight the Chariot and Hangedman in the final chapter before fighting the Magician.
  • Boss Subtitles: Each boss fight is prefaced with a profile of the boss with its weak points highlighted.
  • Boss Warning Siren: Every boss in the first 4 games as their names and weakpoints are noted. A heartbeat in the first two, a dull beeping in 3, and the protagonists' PDA beeping as it scans the boss in 4.
  • Canon Discontinuity: The manual for the Saturn port of HOTD1 made rather blatant references to G having "metallic"-tasting blood and behaving "mechanically", implying he was a robot or cyborg. Needless to say, this was never followed up on.
  • Chainsaw Good: Ironically for a zombie work, this trope is put to use by the undead; most entries of the series have at least one type of zombie wielding a chainsaw with intent.
    • Even the bosses get to have some fun, notably Strength and The Empress in HOTD 2 and 4, respectively.
  • Content Warning: One of the paragraphs Typing of the Dead has the player type during the Strength boss fight is the game's Content Warning.
  • Continuity Nod: The final levels of 4 take place in the same area, and play just like, the final levels of 2.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Goldman appears to be one, but then turns out to be much worse.
  • Crippleware: The first game's demo was time-limited; a big timer counted down from three minutes, and the game would quit once the timer reached zero. The hack-savvy player who used a memory location editor to freeze the timer would find out that the timer was the only thing crippling the game; with it out of the way, it was possible to play the game to the end.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Nearly every single boss and every single protagonist. Characters in 4, at least tend to gripe when their health is low.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Zobiko in The House of the Dead EX is a Cute Zombie Girl. And a protagonist.
  • Damsel in Distress: Sophie Richards in the first game. Also, you will find those (either civilians or your partner) who will need rescue throughout your mission. Saving them nets you a life bonus most of the time. Subverted in III, in which it's your partner that you rescue, and even then, they're only in trouble for a few seconds, retreating back to you regardless of whether you succeed or fail. On top of that, Thomas Rogan is the one in distress, and it's his Action Girl daughter to the rescue (along with his old AMS buddy, G). Avoided outright in 4, in which there's nobody to rescue.
  • David Versus Goliath: There's always at least one giant-sized boss.
  • Dead Weight: Fat zombies are the earliest kind of Giant Mook, taking a few more body shots than normal enemies. The manual explains that a mutant's health is directly proportionate to its mass. They're also fast.
    • Taken Up to Eleven with the morbidly obese boss Temperance, who runs around and can turn himself into a bowling ball of undead fat.
  • Determinator: Death in 3. He will suddenly pop out of the ground and keep running after you for the first and second levels before finally dying.
  • Disney Villain Death: The Hanged Man from the first game. Twice. Also Caleb Goldman in 2.
  • Disposable Woman: Sophie in the original game gets kidnapped by the Hangedman, and is axed by the Chariot just before you fight him as the first boss, driving Rogan to seek revenge. This can be subverted if you're good enough at the game.
  • Dual Boss: Judgement is composed by a small imp, Zeal (who resembles a tiny Hangedman) and Kuarl, a giant, axe wielding suit of armor. Also, the Lovers are a couple of mutated tarantulas.
    • Extended Cut adds a dual boss in the first new chapter, but one of the two mutants in question is so massive that it literally can't do anything except send a Shockwave Stomp or two at you, leaving you to deal with the smaller one for the whole fight.
  • Dual Wielding: Many zombies use two hatchets or chainsaws. The Star dual-wields glowing daggers.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: Playing with a second player makes the games MUCH harder. So if you don't want to die twice as often, don't play with a second player unless said player is just as competent as you.
    • Also, the better you play in a stage, the faster the boss will be. It's not very clear how it works, because sometimes he'll slow down when you fail to survive an attack. It's most notable with the Magician, whose movement aura is a different color based on whether it's in "easy" or "hard" mode.
  • Elemental Powers: The final bosses typically have one of these.
  • Evil Lawyer Joke: One of the Typing of the Dead chain sentences during the Strength battle says that animals do not practice cannibalism - the last sentence is "and you'd never see a lawyer bite a snake."
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Both Goldman and Curien.
  • Fat Bastard: Temperance and the Lobber.
  • Feed It a Bomb: Justice, the first boss of the fourth game, can be instantly defeated if you chuck a grenade in its mouth.
  • Final Exam Boss:
    • The Emperor will turn his metal orbs into some of the previously killed bosses, and you can repel them by hitting their weak spots.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: The final bosses of the first, third, and fourth games; The Magician manipulates fire, The Wheel of Fate manipulates lightning, and The World manipulates ice. The final boss of the second game is a crystalline humanoid, similar to The World.
  • For Massive Damage: Weak points for bosses and headshots for normal zombies.
  • Gainaxing: Disturbingly applied with the Temperance boss.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • In III's final chapter, Daniel takes over as the new Player 2 character partway through. For whatever reason, he inherits G's remaining lives.
    • At the end of 4's fifth chapter, James is struck by one of The Star's finishing attacks. Not only does Life Meter not reflect this in the subsequent chapter, he is able to shoot as well as he did before.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: The motive of HOTD2's Big Bad for his bringing about a Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Candi which she explains that she was taught "don't have anything nice to say don't say nothing at all". She took it literally as she swaps the word "nothing" for expletives.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Magician's re-appearance in 2 has this written all over it.
  • Giant Spider: The Lovers are two huge tarantulas (a small male one atop a larger female). Also the Hermit in 1.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The AMS, which almost every protagonist and heroic supporting character works for. It's never explained precisely what they do beyond shoot zombies and mutants.
  • Hannibal Lecture: HotD 4 employs a heavy retcon to give Caleb "loyfe cycle" Goldman a lot more menace; the start of each chapter flashes back to the events of HOTD 2, showing Goldman quietly seething behind his desk about how mankind's arrogance and greed will doom the entire planet. The final level reveals he's been speaking to James Taylor and Gary Stewart, who have him at gunpoint.
    • The Wheel of Fate aka a resurrected Dr. Curien, the final boss of HOTD 3, attempts to give one of these, only to be silenced by a volley of shotgun blasts.
    • In HOTD 2, the revived Magician gives one to James and Gary before the fight starts, again followed by their Shut Up, Hannibal! speech after they beat the crap out of this Humanoid Abomination.
  • Headless Horseman: In HOTD 2, the first boss, Judgement, is a headless suit of armor (Kuarl) controlled by a flying goblin (Zeal) that you have to hit.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: James blows himself up along with Pandora's Box at the climax of 4's story, but did he really need to? May overlap somewhat with Stupid Sacrifice.
  • Hockey Mask and Chainsaw: Strength, of HOTD 2.
  • Hostage Spirit Link: In 1 and 2, shooting a civilian takes off one life. Averted in III, where shooting your partner in a rescue scene does nothing. 4 has no one for you to rescue.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The typical appearance for the end bosses. Also The Star.
  • In the Blood: In House Of The Dead 3, Daniel struggles with this, but gets over it after blowing up the zombie-android resurrection of his father.
  • Just Before the End: House of the Dead 4.
  • Kevlard: Temperance (a morbidly obese zombie) from House Of The Dead 4. Even though you could actually stop him from attacking you by shooting his head, it was impossible to do any real damage to him via your bullets. You had to drop a clock on his head to beat him.
    • Obese enemies in the second and third game also tank in more damage. A headshot was needed or they'd ram you.
  • Kill 'em All: Allegedly, Goldman's Zombie Apocalypse plot in 2 and 4 is a subversion of this.
    Goldman: "I do not wish to kill all humans. I only wish to revert to them to their natural state."
  • Knight Templar: Goldman. He wanted to protect nature. Okay. But did he have to go as far as killing off the human race "reverting them to their natural state"?
  • Lighter and Softer:
    • The House of the Dead EX, due to being a zombie love story with silly minigames.
    • The Typing of the Dead, featuring agents killing zombies by way of keyboards attacked to Dreamcast backpacks.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Roy Curien in regards to his son, and Warden Darling in regards to his mother.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: In every game.
    • Also subverted in the same game with bosses: normal mutants will blow up into gooey pools of blood and flesh, but the bosses (even those who seem quite prone to explode into pus like the Lobber and Mother) simply fall down.
  • Mad Scientist: "Yes! ...These are the kinds of breakthrough results that are possible when experiments are carried out scientifically, without undue mushy sentiment for the Human test [subjects] or other ridiculous ethical qualms..." (Journal Entry). Dr. Curien speaking of some of his zombie creations from the PC version of the first game's manual.
    • He got even worse, as the flashbacks to before the incident in HOTD 3 show, complete with mad laughter.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Goldman and some shady G-man in the best ending you can get for HOTD 4.
  • Monstrosity Equals Weakness: Almost every boss in any given game will be some form of mutant freak, but the final boss will look like a shiny humanoid. The exceptions are the original game's Magician and Overkill's Mother.
  • Mook Chivalry: Some zombies will wait until you kill the largest threat (like axe-wielding zeds or barrel-throwing fatties). Only one zombie can typically be in attacking range at once, so it's possible to disable one, quickly reload, then finish it off with the rest of the new clip used for the ones behind it.
  • More Dakka: 4's default weapon is a machine pistol.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Justice is a huge, four-armed zombie brute who chases you around a sewer.
  • Multiple Endings: Every game has a few: one which is canon, a few which aren't, and one which is possibly canon but also extremely confusing.
  • Nintendo Hard: By far one of the most difficult Light Gun Games around. Many a player has witnessed the second game's continue screen no less than 10 times in a single run.
    • In the actual arcade stands, at least. The PC versions are easy with practice, since you can see where you're aiming and there are shot types in the first game (such as G's extremely powerful derringer). It also helps that you don't have to take your aim off-target to reload here.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Goldman. His boss creations fit more, though.
  • One-Letter Name: Agent G.
  • 1-Up: All games in the series have life pickups hidden under certain objects. In the original two games, rescuing certain civilians will grant you an extra life, and you can gain more at the end of the stage depending on how many of them you've saved. In III, extra lives are earned by rescuing the other player and getting good grades. In 4, because there are no rescue opportunities, your only non-item source of lives is getting B grades and higher. Overkill goes for a more traditional health bar, where you start each chapter with a full bar and can only replenish lost sections by shooting medkits hidden throughout the levels.
  • One-Winged Angel: Wheel of Fate could be considered Curien's One Winged Angel form in HOTD 3.
  • Pinball Spinoff: The Pinball Of The Dead, duh.
  • Raising the Steaks: This series has undead fauna all over the place: bats, owls, spiders, sloths, leeches, crows. The first game even featured winged zombie dobermans.
  • Revenge: Rogan and Isaac's driving motives in the first game and Overkill, respectively. The second chapter of The House of the
  • Sand Worm: The Tower is a roaring, five-headed worm-dragon-snake-hydra-thing. After you kill four of his heads, the main one will slither away to the next arena, where you'll have to finish him off. Depending on the path you took, the arena could even be a large sand pit that he burrows through.
  • Scenery Gorn: Kate and James get a very nice view of the ruined city at the end of 4's fourth chapter.
  • Secret Character: Sophie and a female researcher could be used in the original game's Saturn mode if a code was used.
  • Shout-Out: In one stage of Zombie Revenge, you can find twin guitar cases hiding machineguns or a guitar case with a rocket launcher.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: The final chapter to HOTD 4 reveals that Goldman (in flashbacks) has been ranting to James Taylor and Gary Stewart; the original protagonists who ruined his plans in HOTD 2. James's response to Goldman's elaborate rant?
    James: Is that all you have to say, Goldman?
    • Lisa Rogan and Daniel Curien, son of the infamous doctor delivers her own retort to the final boss of HOTD 3, punctuating it with a shotgun blast to the face.
    Lisa: This is our future, we'll handle it ourselves.
    Daniel: You're not my father!
  • Something Completely Different: The House Of The Dead EX. You have light guns, but that's about as far as the similarity goes. It's not only lighter and softer, but is filled with childish cutscenes which are mostly 2D anime/manga style stills, toned down violence, and aside from that, there's the genre change from rail shooter to minigames.
  • Spiritual Successor: Vampire Night, a joint effort between Sega and Namco that utilized similar gameplay and boss encounters and was similarly goofy in terms of voice acting and translation. "It was the girl. She gave us the strength of that of a human."
  • Tarot Motifs: Every boss in games 1 through 4 is named after a tarot card of the Major Arcana. As of the fourth game, only three Tarot cards have not had their names used: the Devil, the Moon, and the High Priestess. The bosses in OVERKILL don't follow this pattern — but they weren't developed by Curien or Goldman.
  • Tattooed Crook: Varla has a red, lipstick-kiss tattoo on her left breast.
  • Theme Naming: The bosses of the first four games are named after tarot cards.
  • This Is da Faynl Bawdl: Before the final boss in House of the Dead 2.
  • Throw a Barrel at It: some fat zombies do this rather often.
  • Title Drop: The last chapter of the first game was titled "The House of the Dead".
  • Title of the Dead
  • Tomato Surprise: In EX, Zobiko, the female zombie protagonist, is actually the mad scientist's wife.
  • Tragic Monster: Jasper, per Transformation Trauma, and the Screamer, who's an unfortunate test subject used in Papa Caesar's experiments.
  • Transformation Trauma: The bad endings have Goldman or a character close to the protagonists turn into a zombie, who is usually promptly shot off screen.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: The Magician kills his creator, Curien, in the first game. It seems Goldman was able to fix this problem when recreating him, as he's been loyal since.
  • Twenty Minutes into the Future: The House of the Dead III is set in the year 2019; the first two games were simply set in Next Sunday A.D.. Confusing matters is the fact that the fourth game takes place in the year 2003 and was released in 2005, and that Overkill takes place in 1991 and was released in 2009.
  • Warmup Boss: Each game has one boss with a relatively easy weak point and predictable movements to start you off, and often has the basic types of zombie before that.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Goldman believes his actions are for the good of the planet and will save the human race from itself.
    • Dr. Curien was trying to find a cure for his son, though he went off the deep end.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Where did Kate Green go after 4? It's explained in the Special Edition game, where she teams up with G immediately after the events of that game.
    • In the second game, James Taylor and Gary Stewart serve as the protagonists. In the fourth game, James returns, but Gary seems to have simply disappeared.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Duh. Much more egregious in House of the Dead 3 - the world was overrun, and yet no one can use anything actually descriptive in regards to the zombies. And in Overkill, well, they're mutants.

Hee hee hee! Seems like my advice had no effect. Suffer like G did?
  • Dogs of the AMS. It's time they made a move.
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alternative title(s): The House Of The Dead; House Of The Dead; The House Of The Dead
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