Dead Rising is a series of sandbox zombie beat 'em up/hack and slash games developed by Capcom, with its debut entry being handled by Capcom Japan in-house before being passed onto Blue Castle Games starting with its sequel, eventually becoming Capcom Vancouver and going on to assume full ownership of the series from Off the Record forward.
The debut game, Dead Rising, was created by Capcom veteran Keiji Inafune as an early title for the Xbox 360 and a showcase of the MT Framework Engine alongside Lost Planet (of which the two games even had a crossover). Originally set to release in 2005 to coincide with the Xbox 360's launch, it was pushed back for nine months, into August of 2006. It was beloved by Western audiences but didn't do very well in its home of Japan, mostly due to the Xbox 360 in general having a poor reception there and the game was an exclusive. Frank West, a cocky freelance photojournalist, investigates the quiet town of Willamette to uncover the truth about an abrupt civil disobedience which turns out to be a zombie outbreak.
Due to its success, a sequel was announced and eventually released in 2010, that being Dead Rising 2. Before its formal release, a prequel/"demo", Case Zero, was released exclusively for Xbox Live Arcade. Despite this exclusivity, the actual game was the first in the series to be released beyond Xbox platforms, also launching on PlayStation 3 and PC. This game follows a new protagonist, Chuck Greene, a motocross champion who is framed for an outbreak in a Las Vegas pastiche theme park, Fortune City. He has to clear his name while searching for a zombification-suppressing drug, Zombrex, for his daughter Katey. Replacing the photography mechanic is the creation of Combo Weapons, which Chuck can craft using two items to make a much flashier, more effective zombie-killing weapon. Chuck can also weaponize vehicles, namely motorbikes, to slay zombies and be a bit faster about it.
History repeated itself with yet another sequel, Dead Rising 3, which was advertised as a launch title and exclusive for the Xbox One much like the original with the 360. This was the series' stab at taking a Darker and Edgier route, with its muted color palette and more gritty, bleak story. Nick Ramos is a mechanic in the sunny city of Los Perdidos, caught in the middle of an outbreak, and has to build a plane before the city is bombed in a week. Nick is much better at crafting Combo Weapons than even Chuck Greene, being able to build them on the fly, and can soup up way more vehicles with bigger weapons. This is the first game to be fully open-world, and has a much more lenient time limit to make up for that.
About three years later, on the tenth anniversary of the series, Dead Rising 4 was announced to commemorate for the series' run. It's a Christmas-themed Revisiting the Roots "return to form" for the series as a direct response to the polarizing reception of the previous game. Frank West is back as the playable protagonist yet again, bringing back with him the photography mechanic and the setting of Willamette, with a bigger, revamped mall and an explorable town.
After Dead Rising 4, the future of the series is uncertain. The sequel in development was scrapped, Case Zero, Case West, and 3 have yet to be remastered and/or ported past its initial platforms (though the Cases are backwards compatible on One), Frank's latest major appearance was in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, and Capcom Vancouver has been disbanded.
Official works in this franchise:
- Dead Rising: Frank West is a freelance photojournalist who gets a tip-off of something strange happening in the quiet town of Willamette, Colorado, which is ironically home to the grandiose Americana Willamette Parkview Mall. Unbeknownst to Frank, the town is completely overrun by zombies. Frank now has to survive in the mall for three days awaiting his helicopter, also finishing his job of getting the big scoop of the true circumstances behind the outbreak.
- Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop: A scaled-down port for the Wii.
- Dead Rising 2: Chuck Greene is a motocross champion participating in a pay-per-view game show, "Terror Is Reality", in order to make easy money to buy Zombrex, a drug that suppresses zombification for 24 hours, for his daughter Katey, who is bitten. All hell breaks loose when somebody releases the show's zombie herd into the stadium, completely overrunning the theme park. Since the perpetrator was wearing his racing uniform, all fingers are pointed at Chuck, and he has to fight to clear his name and get rescued by the military. This game was notable for introducing "Combo Weapons", which, as the name implies, consists of two items duct-taped together to make a crazy, yet effective weapon to use against the hordes of undead.
- Case Zero: A prologue to the game. Chuck and Katey stop in the quiet town of Still Creek for some gas. When Chuck's back is turned, someone steals his truck, stranding him and Katey in the town, which turns out to be overrun. Chuck searches desperately for some spare parts to soup up a bike and get out of town.
- Case West: An epilogue to the game. Picking up from Ending A, Chuck joins Frank West in storming the Phenotrans facility to expose the truth of the outbreak and possibly find a cure.
- Dead Rising 2: Off the Record: A spin-off, Denser and Wackier What If? Scenario retelling of the game which doubles as an Updated Re-release. Frank West takes over Chuck Greene's role as protagonist, and brings with him his photography skills and moveset from the first game. Fortune City now has a new area, Uranus Zone, a space-themed amusement park with new items, activities, and customization.
- Dead Rising 3: Taking place ten years after 2, this game follows mechanic Nick Ramos as he fights to escape an outbreak in his native Los Perdidos, a pastiche of Los Angeles. He conspires with his boss, Rhonda Kreske, and a trucker, Dick Baker* to build a plane and get out of dodge.
- Operation: Broken Eagle: Adam Kane, a Special Forces commander, is tasked with capturing the President of the United States.
- Fallen Angel: An infected survivor on the run from the law, Angel Quijano, tries to stop Special Forces troops from mass-murdering survivors.
- Chaos Rising: Hunter Thibodeaux, an anarchist biker, seeks revenge on the people responsible for putting him in jail.
- The Last Agent: ZDC agent Brad Park attempts to uncover the truth behind his employers' involvement in the outbreak, and save survivors in an attempt to reconcile for the damage done.
- Super Ultra Dead Rising 3: Arcade Edition EX + α: A goofy spin-off DLC which serves as a healthy dose of self-deprecation and fanservice all at once. It's colorful (undoubtedly in response to the lukewarm reaction to the main game's color palette), it's arcadey, and it has Nick, Annie, Chuck, and Frank cosplay as iconic Capcom characters, slicing and dicing zombies using the abilities of the characters they're portraying.
- Dead Rising: Watchtower: A 2015 film which serves as an interquel between 2 and 3.
- Dead Rising: Endgame: A 2016 film which is a direct sequel to Watchtower.
- Dead Rising 4: Frank West takes the reigns as protagonist again, and is revisiting Willamette, now home to a much bigger mall and a much bigger outbreak to compliment it.
- Frank Rising: A direct continuation of the ending. Frank is alive, but is now infected (again) and has turned into an Exo Zombie. He's now on the clock and has to escape the town before it's bombed.
- Frank's Big Package: A special edition of the game in which it not only includes Frank Rising, but also a special "Capcom Heroes" mode, where the main campaign could be played cosplaying as numerous iconic Capcom characters (including Frank's original outfit and Adam MacIntyre), but with the catch of the costumes also granting the abilities of the character it's based on. This served as an Author's Saving Throw Updated Re-release Swan Song for Capcom Vancouver, as this was their last major project before shutting down. This was also the game's debut on PlayStation 4 and PC.
- Dead Rising: Road to Fortune: A four-issue comic series that serves as an interquel between the first and second games.
Tropes that apply to this franchise include:
- Apathetic Citizens: A lot of the survivors are clearly not taking the situation as seriously as they should.
- Character in the Logo: There's a zombie silhouette inside the logo's second "D".
- Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Every protagonist is different from the last.
- Chuck Greene has been through two outbreaks by the time Dead Rising 2 begins, and is therefore completely stoic around the chaos that unveils, and experienced in dealing with zombies, while Frank West before him had to gradually learn their nature due to Willamette being the first ever outbreak in the US.
- Nick Ramos has absolutely no prior experience with zombies directly when Dead Rising 3 begins, and to show for it, is constantly panicking and screaming upon the horrific sights he bears witness to. He is, however, an even better handyman than Chuck (being a mechanic and all), and can create even wackier Combo Weapons than him, not even having to go to a workbench.
- Frank West in Dead Rising 4 is unique in that he was the original protagonist, but is naturally much different by this game. He has become so experienced in the art of zombie-killing that they're barely even a threat to him anymore, and he can craft Combo Weapons just like Chuck, on the fly just like Nick, and even at the very beginning, he can dish out a lot of damage, while Nick, Chuck, and Frank himself started their stories out fairly vulnerable and weak.
- Crapsack World: Gradually, as zombie outbreaks become more and more common, and the government is more often than not involved with them. Then comes the Zombrex chips..
- Eagleland: The Boorish. The Willamette Parkview Mall is a huge Americana paradise much bigger than a small, backwater town in Colorado should have any right owning. It's filled with idiots who care more about materialistic desires than their own safety, and psychotic, bloodthirsty patriots exploiting the Second Amendment as an excuse to kill innocent people.
- Early-Installment Weirdness:
- If you're going into the first game from the sequels, you might be confused by the lack of the zany Combo Weapons.
- Dead Rising 2, the debut of Combo Weapons, requires you go to dedicated workbenches to craft them instead of just doing it on the fly like in 3-onwards.
- Dead Rising 3 introduces Combo Vehicles, which are made by combining two vehicles together. One example is the RollerHawg, made by combining a Steamroller with a Motorcycle.
- Dead Rising 4 features an all-new selection of Combo Vehicles like the Cryonic Commando, which is made by combining an Antique Car with a Snowmobile.
- Government Conspiracy: Every single game has one.
- Improbable Weapon User: Every single protagonist. They use pretty much everything they can get their hands on to slay the undead.
- Intrepid Reporter: Many. About one per installment. We have Frank West, Rebecca Chang, Chase Carter, and Vick Chu.
- Merchandising the Monster: While the zombie outbreak might have been somewhat contained, and using their slaughter as part of a TV show could bring in a lot of audience, the people that lost family members and friends to it don't seem to think the same. Mainly because they don't want to change the channel one day, and see the decaying but still moving corpse of their mother there. And only seconds before her head get smashed by a giant toy hammer.
- Mission Control: Each game has a person who watches the player character (along with nearly everything else in the mall/casino resort/city) through security cameras and communicates with them, giving updates on Survivors and Psychopaths, as well as general information.
- The first game has Otis, a janitor who helps Frank with his intimate knowledge of the Willamette Mall.
- 2 has Stacey Forsythe, a leader of C.U.R.E. trapped in Fortune City. She also watches Chuck's daughter, Katey, while he's away.
- 3 has Jamie Flynt, the only one of these characters to never be met in person, only heard. He's safe in an unknown location with lots of security cameras, deciding to help Nick out after the latter finds his transceiver.
- Nintendo Hard: Dead Rising is a VERY difficult franchise to 100% on. If you're terrible at time management then you're gonna have a very hard time completing the games. And even if you are good at it, there will always be something that gets in the way of messing up your schedule.
- The Load: Survivors in the first game are hellishly frustrating for the very fact that they are just so perpetually freaked out and/or incompetent that it's extremely hard to escort them back to the safe room. They have terrible pathfinding and will often get stuck on simple geometry or even each other trying to climb up into the safe room vent.
- Susan Walsh, the elderly woman, moves painfully slow, and the only way to speed her up is to hold her hand. Due to the wonky physics of the hand-holding, she will often let go if you so much as brush up against a zombie, or sometimes she'll let go just because.
- Female survivors are oftentimes very annoying to deal with due to the fact that most of them refuse to take weapons and will only give you the option to hold their hands.
- Survivors like Aaron Swoop or Nick Evans have a special Nervous Wreck AI in which they'll spastically run around in circles, stand in corners and cry, or barely use the weapons they're given.
- Strangely, but thankfully averted if you give them firearms, in most cases anyway (there's still the cowardly survivors who will barely use them). If you equip a survivor with a gun, especially if it's the shotgun or SMG, they will actually provide great cover fire, assuming you're not in the way of their shot; Friendly Fireproof is not in effect here.
- And finally averted altogether come the sequels. From Dead Rising 2 onwards, survivors actually have brains and will have no problem following you or actually using weapons. Pretty much the only survivor that can be considered a load is Dean Wayne, who can't be carried or offered a shoulder, and walks excruciatingly slow, unless you have the Leadership magazine..
- Our Zombies Are Different: The zombies of this series are all controlled in a hivemind by "Queens", mutated bees which will make any nearby zombies' heads explode if they are killed. They're also not undead, at least, not all of them; a bite from a zombie will zombify you if not treated, but you can still reanimate if you were eaten alive by one.
- Running Gag: "I've covered wars, you know."
- Sequel Escalation: Each new game ramps up the zombie-killing glory more and more, becoming progressively Denser and Wackier, even in the Darker and Edgier Dead Rising 3.
- Skewed Priorities: Many survivors are more concerned with absolutely ridiculous and materialistic things rather than the goddamned zombie outbreak they're stuck in, such as the infamous Ronald Shiner and his need for (an excessive amount of) food, or Bill Montagu who wants to win back the $20,000 he lost gambling (plus an extra $5,000 once the player recoups him).
- Theme Naming: Every protagonist's name ends with a "k", those being Frank, Chuck, and Nick* .
- Previous Player-Character Cameo: Every new game references the previous protagonist in some way.
- Frank West is mentioned in Dead Rising 2 as being involved with the manufacturing of Zombrex and the one who exposed the truth behind Willamette. He also returns to rescue and team up with Chuck Greene in Case West.
- Chuck Greene and his involvement in the Fortune City outbreak are covered in a museum in Dead Rising 3. He also shows up late into the story, teaming up with Nick Ramos.
- Nick Ramos is indirectly referenced in Dead Rising 4, in which Vick recalls that everyone is immune to the original zombie parasite, thanks to the cure created from Nick's blood. Dick Baker's mechanic uniform (which looks a lot like Nick's, complete with the ripped sleeves) can also be found (and worn) in a store.
- Virtual Paper Doll: Each game lets the protagonist dress up in the clothes of your choosing, including sports uniforms, hilariously undersized children's clothing, women's clothing and mascot costumes. This notably carries over to the cutscenes, which are rendered in-engine.
- Zombie Apocalypse: Averted. Every outbreak is a local one and the outbreaks (save for Santa Cabeza) only take place within the United States.