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Video Game / House of the Dead

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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, drive cars, 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.

The games in the series are as followed:

  • The House of the Dead: (1996) A mansion that was the base of an experimental operation comes under seige from said experiments. One of the researchers named Sophie manages to call for help to her AMS friends, G and Rogan. They arrive and begin making their way through the mansion to help any researchers they can and put a stop to the mastermind who started it, Curien.

  • The House of the Dead 2: (1998) Set in Venice (or at least a town like it, it's not really clear). A city comes under attack by zombies and monsters. AMS agents James and Gary, later backed up by Amy and Harry, are sent in to help save the citizens and find out who is behind the outbreak.

  • The House of the Dead III: (2002) Set 19 years after the second game, the world has been ruined by a zombie outbreak but former agent Rogan has found the source coming from a factory complex. However he and his team of mercenaries go missing when infiltrating the compound. A few weeks later, Rogan's daughter, Lisa, and his former partner, G, manage track him to the factory and invade the building themselves in the hopes of finding him.

  • The House of the Dead 4: (2005) An interquel set between 2 and 3. Set in 2003, James gets the nagging feeling that the events from the second games aren't over and decides to investigate along with fellow AMS agent, Kate. While visiting one of their European branches, an earthquake traps them underground. After waiting days for rescue, they find they're suddenly besieged by zombies. The two blast their way out and set about trying to find out what's going on.

  • The House of the Dead: OVERKILL (2009): A prequel game set in 1991. Rookie agent G is sent to the Louisiana swamps to investigate an outbreak of mutants in the area (aided by a foul-mouthed detective, Isaac Washington) and stop the mastermind, Papa Ceaser. Unlike the last three games, this one was made by London developer, Headstrong Games. Initially released as a Wii-exclusive, it 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.

  • House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn (2018): The newest entry in the series, which will begin location testing in Japanese arcades on January 19, 2018. Pictures on the game's official website depict the setting being that of a mansion, a sequence of blasting zombies on a motorcycle, and Chariot from the first game returning as a boss. Location testing reveals the game to be set 3 years after the fourth game, with Kate being one of the two protagonists alongside James Taylor's brother Ryan. Uzis return as the main weapon.

There are likewise spin-off games as well:

  • Zombie Revenge: (1999) 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 (1999), which is basically a re-release of House of the Dead 2, only now instead of bullets you kill with powered keyboards. In 2004, it was released for the PlayStation 2 as Typing of the Dead: Zombie Panic, but only in Japan. The game was 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 (2002) for the Game Boy Advance. Exactly What It Says on the Tin, a pinball game with the ''House of the Dead'' Theme.
  • English of the Dead (2008) for the Nintendo DS. A Japan-only release designed to help Japanese speakers improve their English language skills. Like Typing of the Dead, it uses the story and setting of The House of the Dead 2.
  • House of the Dead EX (a.k.a Loving Deads: House of the Dead EX) (2009): 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 
  • House of the Dead 4 Special (2012): 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.
  • 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.
  • And lastly, Zombie Revenge's Rikuya makes an appearance in the crossover game Project X Zone, with a stage set in the titular House.

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 games in the series later got a Compilation Re Release in 2008 for the Wii in The House of Dead 2 & 3 Return while House of the Dead 3 and 4 got re-released as downloadable games on the Play Station Network in 2012.

Although having at least one unresolved Sequel Hook, SEGA's financial troubles and increased focus on the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise left the series in a 12-year limbo. The wait finally ended with the announcement of House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn on January 14, 2018, and was officially released on September 13 of the same year.

How could anyone do this?

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  • 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 games make use of research notes, while 4 and Scarlet Dawn have a PDA scan. III and Overkill don't even come up with an excuse for what's giving the heroes a hint.
    • The Chariot, the first boss in the first game, has a bloody crevice on its chest armor. Once it sheds off the armor, you can shoot it anywhere.
    • The hideous, aquatic reptilian Hierophant, appearing in 2, has his rib cage frequently open for an easy potshot at its heart.
    • While each game's final boss will always have an "Unknown" weakness, one glance at them pretty much gives away where you must plug it with bullets. The Magician's weak points are especially obvious; you don't exactly need a guide on how to shoot the massive unarmored, pulsing-red parts of its flesh.
  • Action Girl: Lisa Rogan in III, and Kate Green in 4.
  • Actionized Sequel: 4 features hordes of zombies, trading the handguns and shotguns from the previous entries for Uzi submachine guns and grenades.
    • Also applies to Overkill, which offers a plethora of weapons to be used, up to a minigun.
    • Scarlet Dawn ups the ante, featuring bigger swarms of zombies and more weapons, including grenade launchers.
  • Adjustable Censorship: On both the arcade and console versions, you can typically change the blood color from red to green. The Saturn port of the first game also offers blue and violet blood.
  • Always Night: The first game takes place during the course of a single night. Overkill is also mostly night, until the final boss battle.
  • An Axe to Grind: Every game has at least one type of zombie duel-wielding axes, often in a cross position to deflect bullets (with the exception of the first game and Overkill). Players can blast their legs and chest to make them keel over, thus exposing the zombies' heads.
  • Artifact Title: The original game is more like "Ridiculously-Huge Mansion of the Dead". 2 and 4 take place in cities and both conclude in a large office-building. III occurs in a gigantic skyscraper. Overkill takes place in numerous locations, such as a carnival, the Louisiana swamps, and a prison. According to test footage, Scarlet Dawn appears to take place in another large mansion.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Averted in the first two games; although tending to appear in your line of fire, civilians are either in danger (being attacked by a zombies or hanging from a railing) or fleeing from zombies. The only ones who aren't are actively trapped.
  • Badass Normal: All of the main protagonists in the series are normal people battling legions of undead monstrosities to save humanity.
    • Lampshaded in Overkill a ton.
      Detective Isaac Washington: Well, I'm not a hundred percent sure but... I think they've found us."The G stands fo' GENOCIDE, muthafucka!"
  • Bloodless Carnage: Averted in the first three games and Overkill, in which zombies are bloodied and dismembered when shot. Played straight in 4 and Scarlet Dawn, with zombies simply disintegrating and erupting in flames, respectively, upon death.
    • The civilians in the first two games also play this straight, shedding not a drop of blood when killed (either by zombies or accidentally by a player).
  • Boom, Headshot!: The best way to kill the zombies.
  • 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 and Scarlet Dawn.
  • 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 2 and 4, respectively.
  • City of Canals: This is a natural consequence of 2 and 4 being set in Venice.
  • Classic Cheat Code: From 2 onwards, the score display code is in the format of x, x, y, y, x, y, x. For example, on 2 and 3, x refers to the player 1 gun trigger and y refers to player 2's, and in 4 you use the trigger and grenade buttons, respectively, for the code.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Nearly every single boss and every single protagonist. Characters in 4, at least tend to gripe when their health is low.
  • 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. Scarlet Dawn, on the other hand, brings back both the civilian version of 1 and 2, and the partner version of III.
  • David vs. 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. And is completely bulletproof.
  • Disney Villain Death: The Hanged Man from the first game. Twice. Also Caleb Goldman in 2.
  • Dull Surprise: The voice acting of the earlier HoTD installments ranges from bad to abysmal; in II the heroes don't sound the least bit fazed by the fact that they're literally standing in the middle of a citywide zombie outbreak; James in particular dishes out some of the most jarring and out-of-context lines in the game.
    • Goldman himself falls under this, with some of his lines muddled so badly it sounds as if he's speaking through a broken voice recorder.
  • 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 (and heavens help you should you start a two-player game in order to dual-wield on the arcade machine).
    • 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.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Both Goldman and Curien.
  • Fat Bastard: Temperance and the Lobber. Also the fat zombies from the third game.
  • 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.
  • Five-Bad Band: In HOTD1, we have:
  • Friendly Fireproof: In III, there are segments where one player must rescue the other from a zombie attack (in lieu of rescuing civilians). Shooting your partner in distress not only does not take away your lives, it doesn't even damage them! The console ports even point this out in their strategy demos.
  • Gameplay Grading: The first two games give you a rank at the end of the game based on your performance. In III and 4, you also get grades at the end of every chapter; getting a high enough grade on a given chapter will earn you an extra life or two.
  • 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.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The limping man featured in the endings of the third and fourth game. Nothing much is still not known about him but it's implied he's responsible for Curien and Goldman's actions and might even tie into Clement from Overkill as well.
  • 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, who has uncanny abilities.
  • Injured Player Character Stage: Subverted in 4. James gets injured at the end of Chapter 5 by a last-ditch attack by The Star, and he has to be physically assisted by Kate in the next chapter. However, this has no bearing gameplay-wise, and he doesn't even lose a life from the cutscene attack.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Played straight to an extent in the first two games. Both protagonists you can play as are male, although there is at least one female who acts as a supporting character (Sophie and Amy). Averted in 3 and 4 where both Player Character teams consist of a male and a female (Lisa Rogan in 3 and Kate Green in 4).
    • Also played straight with the zombies. With the possible exception of The Empress boss, who's name and body structure implies that it is a female, the zombies are exclusively male or at least have masculine body structures.
  • 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 mag used for the ones behind it.
  • 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.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Late game zombies in the first game will sometimes have robotic arms. And in any stage in Goldman's skyscraper, you get to fight alien/zombie/robot things.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The series is very ambiguous as to what type of zombie it's using. In the first game and in Overkill they're explicitly the products of mad science, but after that it's anyone's guess. They cause a Zombie Apocalypse, implying infectious zombies (and Goldman gets zombified in the second game's bad ending), but Goldman's laboratories are still hanging around with copies of Curien's notes. The boss monsters and robotic foes that still fight likes zombies aren't helping.
    • The zombies are most consistently featured as the Artificial Zombie type. Curien's zombies are explicitly made from his own creation and considering that Goldman has several test tubes with zombies in them in his headquarters, this suggests that they are templates used to mass produce them and unleash unto the world. Also, they are smart enough to know how to wield various weaponry and drive vehicles, something that would be impossible for ordinary zombies to do and was most likely programmed into them by Curien/Goldman. They also aren't interested in infecting humans and although some possess bite attacks, they simply kill anyone who isn't a zombie and the bite just does damage rather than cause infection to the protagonists.
  • Pinball Spinoff: The Pinball of the Dead, duh.
  • Raising the Steaks: This series has undead fauna all over the place: bats, owls, spiders, frogs, scarabs, vultures, piranhas, sloths, leeches, crows. The first game even featured winged zombie dobermans.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: The classic. Shoot here to destroy them quickly.
    • The battle against Team Judgment is one where this doesn't work. Because Kuarl (the 10-foot tall armored zombie) doesn't have a head!
  • 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. "We're not what we were 300 years ago." "Yeah." "The girl, she changed us. She gave us the warmth of that of a human." It also introduced the "Boss Cancel" bar that would be used in 3 onward.
  • 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 haven't had their names used: the High Priestess, the Moon, and the Devil. The bosses in OVERKILL don't follow this pattern — but they weren't developed by Curien or Goldman.
    • Scarlet Dawn checks off the Priestess and the Moon.
  • Theme Naming: The bosses of the first four games are named after Tarot cards.
  • Throw a Barrel at It: Some fat zombies do this rather often. Other zombies also do the same.
  • Title of the Dead
  • 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.
  • 20 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.
  • 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 along with Amy & Harry, who were Supporting characters.
  • Would Hit a Girl: There are male and female hostages alike to rescue in the first two games and the zombies will kill both of them with impunity regardless of sex. In the same vein, the zombies won't pull any punches if you are playing as a female Player Character either.
  • 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.

     The House of the Dead 
  • Big Bad: Dr. Roy Curien in this game due to unleashing on the zombies on his employees when he feel he no longer had need for them upon completing Magician.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: The mansion 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.
  • Boss Rush: You're forced to re-fight the Chariot and Hangedman in the final chapter before fighting the Magician.
  • Canon Discontinuity: The manual for the Saturn port made rather blatant references to G having "metallic"-tasting blood and behaving "mechanically", implying he was a robot or cyborg. This is never followed up on in subsequent games.
  • Crippleware: The 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.
  • 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.
  • Giant Spider: The third stage introduces large green spiders. The third boss, Hermit, is also one, but much bigger and with organic armor.
  • Power Pincers: One of the enemies in the first game has a kind of "scissor claw" that it can launch at you from a distance.
  • Revenge: Rogan's motive against Curien when Sophie is seemingly killed by Chariot. The third chapter is even titled "Revenge".
  • Secret Character: Sophie, a female researcher, and alternate versions of Rogan and G could be used in the game (both Arcade & ports) if a code was used.
  • Title Drop: The last chapter is literally "The House of the Dead".
  • Turned Against Their Masters: The Magician kills his creator, Curien, upon his activation deeming him as nothing but a lower lifeform.
  • We Will Meet Again: The Magician's final line to the player before vanishing without dying: "You haven't seen anything yet!"

     The House of the Dead 2 
  • Breaking Speech: The revived Magician gives one to James and Gary before the fight starts, again followed by their retort after they beat the crap out of this Humanoid Abomination.
  • Big Bad: Caleb Goldman, the CEO of the DBR Corporation and wealthy financier of Curien's research. He initiates a zombie outbreak in Venice, Italy as the start of what he considers punishment to humanity for abusing nature.
  • Boss Rush: During the last levels, you'll have to face a revived Judgment, Hierophant, Magician, and Tower before dealing with the final boss.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Goldman appears to be one, but then turns out to be much worse.
  • Death of a Child: Subverted, where child characters are just as readily murdered by the undead if you are not quick on the trigger.
  • Dual Boss: Judgement is composed by a small imp, Zeal (who resembles a tiny Hangedman) and Kuarl, a giant, axe wielding suit of armor.
  • 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.
  • Fish Person: The Hierophant, the second boss, is an aquatic reptilian beast who carries a trident.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: Goldman's motive for his bringing about a Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Magician's re-appearance in the next to last level has this written all over it.
  • Headless Horseman: The first boss, Judgment, consists of a headless suit of armor (Kuarl) controlled by a flying goblin (Zeal).
  • Hockey Mask and Chainsaw: Strength, the fourth boss, dons this. It gets blasted off after several headshots.
  • The Imp: Zeal, one of the two beings who make up Judgment.
  • 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"?
  • Ominous Owl: The Moowls, which are zombified owls found in the second game.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Goldman. His boss creations fit more, though.
  • Piranha Problem: The Mofish, which resembles a mutant piranha. These foes are found in the canals and leap at the players to take bites out of them. They are also seen during the fight with the Hierophant.
  • Sand Worm: The Tower is a roaring, five-headed worm-dragon-snake-hydra-thing. After you kill four of its 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.
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: This game is a lot harder than the previous one and is considered the hardest in the series. The zombies are more numerous, faster and can appear from all sorts of angles in each section. The hostages are also harder to save with zombies usually sprinting after them, which increases your chances of accidentally hitting them. The bosses also have more aggressive attack patterns than the previous game's and there is no auto-reload function like the first game possessed.
  • This Is da Faynl Bawdl: Before the final boss.
    Goldman: Show yourself! Our new ruler, the Emperor!
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Goldman believes his actions are for the good of the planet, and he would rather have an artificially-induced apocalypse to bring human population to levels he considers acceptable than have a real disaster or ecological pollution wipe them off the face of the Earth.

     The House of the Dead III 
  • All Hallows' Eve: The game literally takes place on October 31, 2019.
  • After the End: By this point in the series, the Zombie Apocalypse has gone global. It's lasted sixteen years.
  • Appendage Assimilation: The Sun's giant wall of faces.
  • Badass in Distress: Rogan disappears after the prologue chapter, prompting his daughter and former AMS partner to search for him.
  • Big Bad: Curien again, albeit in a mutated form.
  • Book-Ends: The prologue chapter and the end of the final chapter in III take place in the same areas.
  • 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.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: The Sun. In exchange for being easier than Fool and Death, it has a gigantic amount of HP. It goes down much more quickly after it starts its final attack, but it takes minutes of constant firing at its weak points to get there.
  • Determinator: Death, the huge security guard zombie. He will suddenly pop out of the ground and keep running after you for the first and second levels before finally dying.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: In the final chapter, Daniel takes over as the new Player 2 character partway through. For whatever reason, he inherits G's remaining lives.
  • In the Blood: Daniel struggles with this, but gets over it after blowing up the zombie-android resurrection of his father.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Dr. Roy Curien in regards to his son. He went into forbidden research to find a cure for him but it drove him mad in the process.
  • Mauve Shirt: Dan Taylor lasts a little bit longer than his comrades in the prologue (where he serves as the first Player 2).
  • One-Hit Polykill: Because of this particular game's usage of shotguns rather than pistols or machineguns, you can hit two targets with a single shell. Doing so awards the "Twin Shot" bonus.
  • One-Winged Angel: Wheel of Fate could be considered Curien's One Winged Angel form.
  • Plant Person: One of the levels is an lab overrun with plant growth. There, you'll encounter enemies who seem to be the result of zombies fused with plant life.
    • Though it's technically not a person per se, The Sun is a living plant-like abomination.
  • Red Shirt: Thomas Rogan's team who initially investigated the facility.
  • R-Rated Opening: The second to last remaining member of Thomas Rogan's team is killed quite gruesomely by the zombies at the start of the game.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: Encouraged with the Time Attack mode.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: III uses shotguns instead of the handguns of the prior two installments.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Lisa Rogan and Daniel Curien, son of the infamous doctor deliver their own retort to the final boss of HOTD 3 before punctuating it with a shotgun blast to the face.
    Lisa: This is our future, we'll handle it ourselves. You've got bigger problems to worry about!
    Daniel: You're not my father!
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: We learn Curien's backstory here. He was trying to find a cure for his son, though he went off the deep end.
  • You're Not My Father: At the end where after defeating the Final Boss, Dr. Curien as the Wheel of Fate, Curien's son Daniel rejects him as his father before Daniel and Lisa kill him with one final blast.

     The House of the Dead 4 and Special 
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The player characters are AMS agents, and the game starts as an AMS base gets suddenly completely taken over by zombies.
  • Arc Words:Hope.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: A quick puff of blue/orange flame bursts from each enemy and blackens them the instant they're killed, so even if a zombie is still standing while it goes through its death flops, the player knows to stop wasting time shooting at it and immediately start targeting the next threat. Considering the sheer number of simultaneous enemies this installment throws at you, it's easy to see why this feature is extremely helpful.
  • Big Bad: Goldman, posthumously. You're more fighting his contingency plan then him.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The first game that inverts this. In contrast of the first three games ability to blow chunks off the zombies and monsters, here zombies and monsters either burst into flames, disintegrate, or fall down.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Emphasized in this game with bonuses for nailing consecutive headshots. In order, the bonuses are "GOOD" (1 hit), "GREAT" (2 hits), "AMAZING!" (3 hits), and "PERFECT!" (4 or more hits).
  • Bond One-Liner: Kate Green has one with "How do you like my low fat, all lead diet?" after dropping a huge clock on top of Temperance's head.
  • Call-Forward: In the G ending, G shows up at the site where James sacrificed himself, swearing to "fight this back to the source", alluding to his role in III.
  • Continuity Nod: The final levels take place in the same area, and play just like, the final levels of 2. The music that plays are also remixed songs from the second game.
  • Downer Ending: Failing to stop The Magician's last-ditch attack in part 4 SP allows it to create dozens of clones of itself, which presumably kill the heroes and go on to destroy humanity, and you have a ten-second margin for error to prevent itnote .
  • Dual Boss: Lovers, a pair of mutated tarantulas in the second level of the game.
  • Feed It a Bomb: Justice, the first boss, can be instantly defeated if you chuck a grenade in its mouth.
  • Gainaxing: Disturbingly applied with the Temperance boss.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: At the end of the fifth chapter, James is struck by one of The Star's finishing attacks, and he's shown visibly limping throughout the next chapter. Not only does Life Meter not reflect this in the subsequent chapter, he is able to shoot as well as he did before.
  • Giant Spider: The Lovers are two huge tarantulas (a small male one atop a larger female) who constantly spawn spiderlings. There's also the Hermit in the first game.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Inexplicably, "darn" and "heck" are littered throughout the dialogue, without any real profanity. One wonders if the ludicrously profane dialogue in Overkill was meant to make up for this.
  • Guide Dang It!: Never does the game mention that shooting the propane tanks of the welder zombies acts like a grenade blast, nor the fact that Justice's attacks can be stopped by throwing a grenade into his mouth.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: James blows himself up along with Pandora's Box at the climax of 4's story to keep The World from evolving further in it's weakened state.
  • Just Before the End: House of the Dead 4 which takes place slightly during whatever catastrophe befell the world.
  • Life Meter: The original arcade amusement version of Special has one tied between two players. Lose it and it's an instant Game Over with no continues.
  • Midquel: Set between the second and third game.
  • More Dakka: The default weapon in this game is a machine pistol with 30-bullet clips. 4 SP gives you 100 bullets in one clip.
  • Motive Rant: 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.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Justice is a huge, four-armed zombie brute who chases you around a sewer.
  • Nostalgia Level: The fifth and sixth chapters of 4 are designed to harken back to the final stages of 2 (particularly the fifth chapter but the sixth also has shades of it as well). Justified because they literally are the same areas (the DBR Corporation skyscraper).
  • Scenery Gorn: Kate and James get a very nice view of the burning shell of Venice at the end of 4's fourth chapter.
  • Sequel Difficulty Drop: After the brutal Nintendo Hard nature of the second game, this game is much easier, but still challenging. You are given a fully automatic submachine gun to shred zombies with, in addition to grenades for clearing out large groups of them and doing some good damage to the bosses. There's also no civilians to obstruct you, so you can literally Shoot Everything That Moves too. However, as stated before...
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: ...The game still manages to be a bit harder than the first two. Since you have a submachine gun, a LOT more zombies will appear on-screen at once and the bosses now require their weak points to be shot enough times so that a Cancel meter is filled, which is the only way to interrupt their attacks and prevent damage from being taken. Additionally, more of the bosses fit That One Boss category.
  • 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' response to Goldman's elaborate rant?
    James: Is that all you have to say, Goldman?
  • The Siege: The AMS base that the players are in has been taken over by zombies, and the player characters have to fight their way through it.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Justice will resort to dropkicks later in his fight.

     The Typing of the Dead 
  • Denser and Wackier: Well, for starters you're killing zombies with a giant keyboard powered by a Dreamcast (or a PS2 in Zombie Panic) and a giant battery. Some of them carry Joke Weapons and the phrases you need to type can be completely absurd and hysterical. See Lighter and Softer for more.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: Quite literally, these games are basically the same as their originals only with the focus on typing rather then shooting and some silly cosmetic changes (the agents having keyboard packs as weapons, zombie carrying things like frying pans and form mallets, etc).
  • 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.
  • Dancing Mook Credits: The Typing of the Dead rewarded you for typing out an entire section of credits with a dancing zombie. Up to 10 or 12 zombies in all!
  • Evil Lawyer Joke: One of the 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."
  • Lighter and Softer: The story of the games still play out as normal, but the keyboard and foam weaponry, not to mention some of the phrases they make you type pretty much offset the mood. The endings subvert Goldman's ambiguous suicide in comedic ways, either by triggering an explosion (implying that whatever he was up to failed), Goldman being attached to a bungee cord and coming back up with a burp, or flying off into the sky with a fart.
  • Pop Quiz: The first phrase against The Tower is in this format, with a correct answer typed under the time limit required to damage it.
  • Serious Business: In the tutorial, James says finishing work early and go for karaoke is good and all; but at AMS, not being able to touch type (that is, typing without looking at the keyboard) is "like facing certain death" (while the game shows James getting hit by a zombie every time he looks at the keyboard).
  • Timed Mission: Occasionally, you'll be tasked with killing a brief horde of zombies within a time limit without getting hit.

     The House of the Dead EX 
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • If you're playing two players and one side manages to complete the objective before the other, they're allowed to keep going to help the other side out and win the minigame.
    • Failing a mini-game and re-trying it will give you an additional bonus such as lower difficulty or the goal being closer to reach.
    • Fail the game but choose to continue will allow you a mini-game where you can earn an extra life.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Zobiko is a Cute Zombie Girl. And a protagonist.
  • The Cameo: Gary, James and Kate show up in the "Detective Zobiko" minigame.
  • Faking the Dead: The Star helps the couple this way at the end of the game by reporting to the scientist they perished in the The World's final explosion attack.
  • Gameplay Roulette: The game cabinet features a pedal, and while there are stages that require use of the pedal in combination with the gun, there are also stages where you exclusively use the pedal.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Zombio was meant as a guardsman to Zombiko but, seeing that the two have a lot in common, abandoned his post to flee with her. Justice (yes the same one from 4), likewise becomes a ally to them. And the Star in the final battle again The World.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Zombio is a pretty huge guy and Zobiko is a very petite girl.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: The Star is enamored with Zobiko but she constantly makes it obvious she's not interested. Upon see the lengths Zombio and she are willing to go for each other he helps them against the final boss, saves them from his final attack then let's them leave, reporting back to the scientist that they perished in an explosion.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Whenever you put a coin in, Zombio and Zobiko shout out "Get Ready!"
  • Lighter and Softer: It takes a more comical approch to the series. Heck the tone is more of a love story then a horror motif.
  • Mini Game Game: Mostly a compilations of mini-games using the gun and foot pedal. Though the final boss is a straight up gun fight akin to the original series.
  • 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.
  • Tomato Surprise: Zobiko is actually a clone of the the mad scientist's deceased wife.
  • Traintop Battle: The final battle is set on top of a cable car that the couple were forced to climb onto to escape the zombie horde. The World later picks it up during the fight and The Star holds it up from underneath it to give the couple a foothold to stand on to finish the fight.

     Scarlet Dawn 
  • Anti-Climax: The game simply ends after the final boss is defeated, and Thornheart survives.
  • Back from the Dead: Chariot and Hangedman return once again. Thornheart is also stated to be this, as it was widely believed he succumbed to a fatal illness several years before.
  • Big Bad: Thornheart, who was previously implied to be the Greater-Scope Villain in the previous two entries. Thought to be dead after suffering a terminal disease, he unleashes "Noah's Ark" in order to completely exterminate the human race, believing the human mind is far too corrupted by the Seven Deadly Sins, and wishes to usher in a new human evolution.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Now zombies and other monstrosities dematerializes upon death, and in general, the zombies feature less gory parts.
  • Call-Back:
    • The first chapter is pretty much a re-creation of entering the house in the first game with zombies jumping on the chandelier, the knife throwing ones attacking you afterward and even a zombie busting into the room from a bottom door. Many enemies and even bosses from the first game also return.
    • Upon reaching the last room of the final stage, Kate mentions that they're being invited in.
    • The game makes numerous ones to the events of the fourth game.
  • Difficulty Levels: You can choose between Normal and Master modes, with the latter throwing many more zombies at you at once.
  • Everything's Better with Samurai: One of the new enemies, Mac, wields a sword and moves around like a samurai.
  • Human Ladder: The zombies do this at one point when Kate and Ryan try to board a helicopter and start climbing on top of each other to reach them. Ultimately, the heroes have to jump off as it gets pulled down.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Subverted. Ryan jumps from a tower and impales the head of the final boss with a pipe, but it's the lightning strike that ends up killing it.
  • Lady in Red: Kate sports a very decorative red and black dress, now competing with the sharp-dressed men of the series.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: One of the new zombies, Bruce, is practically Slash from Guns N' Roses in zombie form, sporting a top hat, shades, a similar hairstyle, and even carries a guitar!
  • Sequel Hook: The game ends stating that the story will be continued in the next HOTD game. Although the third game is next in the timeline, the website indicates the game is set to receive a "Special" treatment as with the last game.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: Thornheart references this in regards to the corruption of the human mind, and serves as his motivation to bring in a new human evolution.
  • Time Skip: Set three years after the fourth game.
  • Zerg Rush: Zombies attack in massive droves in this game and you'll soon find yourself fighting against a horde of them.

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.

Alternative Title(s): The House Of The Dead