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Video Game / House of the Dead
aka: The House Of The Dead

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They've come for brains. You'll give them... bullets.

The House of the Dead (officially acronymed as HOD) is a series of arcade light gun games produced by Sega, starring finely dressed federal agents mowing down armies of zombies. Every game's story boils down 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 Humans Are Bastards and set out to remake the world on their own image.
4) But it doesn't matter to the protagonists because they just shoot up whatever man-made monstrosity they throw at mankind!

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

The House of the Dead series is known for its fast-paced gameplay, Multiple Endings, branching paths through levels, high difficulty, and laughable voice acting. Unlike most depictions, the zombies here are fast, wield weapons and supernatural powers, drive cars, or are very fat. Bosses often take the form of some freakish abomination, most of them named after Tarot cards.

You're in for a blood-soaked ride... just don't expect a gripping story, nuanced characters, or some kind of social messagenote . These games are in their element when it comes to sheer dumb fun.

The main games in the series are as follows:

  • The House of the Dead (1996): A mansion that was the base of an experimental operation comes under siege from said experiments. One of the researchers named Sophie manages to call for help to her AMS friends, Thomas Rogan and "G". 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: Remake (2022): A remake of the first game by Forever Entertainment on the Unity engine with brand new graphics and slight tweaks to both gameplay and progression. First teased in the April 2021 Nintendo Indie World Showcase, followed by a teaser trailer. It released in April of 2022.

  • 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.
    • A remake of this game from the same dev team is planned to follow the release of the original's, with a release date yet to be determined.

  • The House of the Dead III (2002): Set 19 years after the second game. The zombie outbreak has gone global, causing the downfall of society as well as the AMS, 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 former partner, G, manage track him to the factory and invade the building themselves in the hopes of finding him and what he discovered.

  • The House of the Dead 4 (2005): An interquel set between 2 and III. Set in 2003, James gets the nagging feeling that the events from the second game 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 set in 1991, following rookie agent G and foul-mouthed detective Isaac Washington's investigation of a mutant outbreak in Bayou City, Louisiana, battling against crime lord Papa Caesar. Unlike the last four games, this one was made by London developer, Headstrong Games. Initially a Wii-exclusive title, Overkill fuses the series' notoriously-bad voice acting with a B-Movie grindhouse-style presentation. 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): An interquel set between 4 and III. Set in 2006, it follows Kate, who is assigned with Ryan, James' younger brother, to attend a reception at Scarecrow Manor. When a zombie outbreak abruptly crashes the partygoers, they have to fight their way out and learn what happened. Submachine guns return as the main weapon, but the game offers other weapons and equipment for purchase and use.

There are likewise spin-off games as well:

  • Zombie Revenge (1999): A Beat 'em Up spinoff that was released to arcades and the Sega Dreamcast, featuring new characters as well as references to the main series.
  • The Typing of the Dead: (1999) Same as 2, except you're killing zombies by typing words and phrases on your keyboard. 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 III and Overkill.
  • Vampire Night (2000): A light gun arcade shooter developed by Sega AM1 and published by Namco which shares many similarities with this series, such as a gothic setting, branching paths, saving civilians, and bad voice acting. It introduced the boss cancel bar that would be used from III onwards. It was later ported to the PlayStation 2.
  • The Pinball of the Dead (2002): A Pinball Spin-Off for the Game Boy Advance, featuring elements from 2.
  • The House of the Dead 4 Special (2006): A motion simulator-type attraction serving as a continuation of 4; was previously arcade-exclusive before being included in the PlayStation 3 version of 4.
  • 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 2.
  • The House of the Dead EX (a.k.a Loving Deads: House of the Dead EX) (2009): A Point Blank (1994)-style mini-game compilation. It concerns Zobio and Zobiko, a runaway undead couple who face obstacles that threaten to separate them. Sadly, the game never saw a release outside of Japan...legally. note 
  • House of the Dead-Scarlet Dawn-THE ATTRACTION (2020): Another motion simulator-like arcade attraction which opened at the Joypolis arcade in Japan on June 13, 2020. It features the prologue and Annex levels from the original Scarlet Dawn, allowing up to 12 players to compete for score by shooting enemies.
  • The Sega Superstars series features House of the Dead cameos, the most prominent being Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, which includes three Curien Mansion-themed tracks and Zobio and Zobiko from EX as playable racers. The sequel, Sega All Star Racing Transformed, only features one track and dropped the two from the roster.
  • Zombie Revenge's Rikuya makes an appearance in the crossover game Project × Zone, with a stage set in the Curien Mansion.

The series has had ports over its run; the original game was ported over to Sega Saturn; 2 got ported to the Sega Dreamcast, and III 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 III and 4 got re-released as downloadable games on the Play Station Network in 2012.

I have made an example list to rule over man kind!:

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  • 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.
  • 20 Minutes into the Past: 4 was released in 2005 but is set in 2003. Overkill was released in 2009 but is set in 1991. The newest title, Scarlet Dawn, was released in 2018 but is set in 2006.
  • 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 and Scarlet Dawn. Overkill adds Varla Guns and Candi Stryper, although they are more of Action Survivor.
  • 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.
    • In III and 4, the body damage inflicted on enemies can be adjusted, with milder settings toning down the violence.
    • When enabled, the "Dress Code" option in Scarlet Dawn alters Kate's party dress so that her arms, shoulders, and back show less skin.
  • Always Night:
    • The first game takes place during the course of a single night.
    • Overkill is also mostly night, until the final boss battle.
    • Scarlet Dawn is mostly set within the night of December 6, 2006. The opening of Chapter 1 has a short flashback to the morning of that day, while the ending is set on the morning of December 7.
  • Anachronic Order: The chronological order of the series goes Overkill, 1, 2, 4 and 4: Special, Scarlet Dawn, and finishes with III.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Although 2 still instructs you to shoot while pointing the gun away from the screen to reload, you don't have to actually shoot; pointing the gun away is enough. This is possible thanks to the game using new light gun technology that actively tracks where the gun is aiming at even when you are not pulling the trigger. This was dropped in III to make players pump the shotgun instead, but games after that, despite instructing the player to shake the gun to reload, still have the point-away method in case muscle memory kicks in or the player simply prefers to reload that way.
    • To avoid confusion when facing hordes in 4, each zombie emits a quick puff of blue/orange flame and blackens when killed. This makes it easier to tell when a zombie is out of commission, even if it's still on its feet when going through its death animation, and that it's safe to target the next threat.
    • In Scarlet Dawn, the player is automatically equipped the default machine gun when they run out of sub-weapon ammunition. This saves them the trouble of having to manually switch back with the weapon select buttons during more difficult scenes.
    • EX has several:
      • 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.
  • 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. Scarlet Dawn takes place in another large mansion.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Averted in the first two games and Scarlet Dawn; 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.
  • Artificial Zombie: The zombies were created in labs and seemingly cloned into an army rather than being the result of a viral infection or curse, with the exception of Overkill, where they're the result of civilians getting infected with a mutagenic formula.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Every boss has a weak point you hit to do damage and, starting with III, is the key to halting whatever attack it's making (indicated by a "Cancel" bar beneath the health meter). For most bosses the weak point is identified to you at the start of the fight but, to make them more intimidating, the Final Bosses do not have identified weak points. However it's still fairly obvious what you need to shoot.
  • 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!"
  • Big Bad:
    • Dr. Curien in the original game, as well as III, resurrected as the Wheel of Fate.
    • DBR Corporation CEO and Curien's research financier Caleb Goldman in 2 and (posthumously) 4. His zombie outbreaks were to punish humanity for abusing nature, hoping to revert them to their "natural state."
    • Thornheart in Scarlet Dawn, 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 that the human mind is far too corrupted by the Seven Deadly Sins, and wishes to usher in a new human evolution. He survives the events of Scarlet Dawn and III, and is set to be the next main antagonist of the series.
  • Bloodless Carnage:
    • Zombies in Scarlet Dawn cannot be bloodied or dismembered, instead erupting in flames upon death. The violence was also lessened in 4 (zombies become more bloody but they don't get dismembered and upon dying just fizzle into black goo).
    • The civilians in the first two games and Scarlet Dawn shed not a drop of blood when killed (either by zombies or accidentally by a player).
  • Bond One-Liner: With the exception of the first game, characters often do this after boss fights. Some examples:
    • From 2:
    James/Gary: (after defeating a revived Judgment) "Remember, there's no such thing as a second chance."
    James: (after defeating the Magician) "Only man himself can control its [sic] fate. You're nothing!"
    • From III:
    Lisa: (after defeating the Sun) "I never was any good at gardening."
    Lisa: (after defeating Death) "When a lady says no, she means it!"
    • From 4:
    James: (after defeating the Empress) "Looks like you missed your stop!"
    James: (after defeating Temperance) "Temper this, buddy!"
    Kate: (after defeating Temperance) "How do you like my low fat, all lead diet?"
    Kate: (after defeating the Star) "Looks like you're the one who failed the test!"
    • From The House of the Dead 4 Special:
    G: (after defeating the Magician) "I'll put you out of your misery!"
    • From Scarlet Dawn:
    Kate: (after defeating Chariot) "I hate a clingy guy!"
    Ryan: (after defeating Priestess) "You fall down—not us!"
  • Boom, Headshot!: The best way to kill the zombies. Emphasized in 4 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).
  • Boss Rush:
    • In the first game, you're forced to re-fight the Chariot and Hangedman in the final chapter before fighting the Magician.
    • During the last levels of 2, you'll have to face a revived Judgment, Hierophant, Magician, and Tower before dealing with the final boss.
  • 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 four 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: 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.
  • Clueless Aesop: "Remember, there's no such thing as a second chance". Also a Broken Aesop since this is said after Judgment's second chance, as well as Hypocritical Humor because of the fact that you can use continues.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Nearly every single boss and every single protagonist. Characters in 4 and Scarlet Dawn at least tend to gripe when their health is low.
  • Damsel in Distress:
    • The civilians found in the first two games and Scarlet Dawn, which must be rescued throughout your mission. With the exception of Scarlet Dawn, saving them usually nets you a life bonus.
    • Subverted in III, which has no civilians; instead, 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.
    • Avoided outright in 4, in which there's nobody to rescue.
    • Plot-wise, Thomas Rogan's fiancee Sophie Richards in the first game. Also Rogan himself in the third.
  • 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.
    • Exaggerated with the kaiju-sized Temperance, who runs around and can turn himself into a bowling ball of fat. And is completely bulletproof.
  • Disney Villain Death: Hangedman from the first game (twice) and Scarlet Dawn, Caleb Goldman from 2, the Sloth from III, and the Lovers from 4.
  • Do Well, But Not Perfect: Ironic as it sounds, you're a lot more likely to get the bad endings of III and 4 if you use less continues. III's bad ending is supposedly triggered by beating the game with less than 3 continues and by picking the Information Systems Department last. 4's is by scoring less than a rank of 3 without using continues.
  • Dual Boss:
  • Dull Surprise:
    • Thanks to the poor voice acting, James, Gary, and other characters in 2 sound unfazed despite standing in the middle of a citywide zombie outbreak. James in particular dishes out some rather jarring and out-of-context lines.
    • Also in 2: Goldman. His lines are so muddled that it sounds like he's speaking through a broken voice recorder. Also, a lot of the lesser mooks are voiced by Synthetic Voice Actors, bringing this trope with it (particularly the now notorious “Suffer like G did” line).
    • 4 mostly averts this; there's some narmy moments, but the characters emote like how they would in real life. James and Kate's dialogue before the former sacrifices himself to kill the World is particularly well-acted, and Goldman is much more sinister.
    • Kate's new voice actress in Scarlet Dawn is mostly flat in delivery, although she occasionally averts this during more frantic moments.
  • Dynamic Difficulty:
    • Multiplayer games throw more zombies at you. Good luck if you're dual-wielding.
    • 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.
  • Evilutionary Biologist:
    • Dr. Curien from the original game and III.
    • Caleb Goldman from 2 and 4.
    • Scarlet Dawn adds Thornheart, who is apparently Curien and Goldman's leader.
  • Fat Bastard: Every game has at least one type of fat zombie. Their health is among the highest of the regular zombies; even if their bellies are blasted open, they'll still attack you.
    • Fat bosses include Temperance from 4 and the Lobber from Overkill.
  • 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.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Thanks to III moving the period to a post-apocalyptic 2019, everything the protagonists do to stop the global zombie outbreak in the games released after but set before III are doomed to fail. This is especially prevalant in Scarlet Dawn; although the AMS agents finally confront the "Mystery Man", Thornheart, at the end of the game, anyone who knows about his appearance in III won't be surprised to learn that, unlike Curien and Goldman, he gets away scot-free.
  • Friendly Fireproof: In III and Scarlet Dawn, 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 and Story Segregation:
    • In the final chapter of III, Daniel takes over as the new Player 2 character partway through. For whatever reason, he inherits G's remaining lives.
    • At the end of the fifth chapter of 4, James is struck by one of The Star's finishing attacks, and he's shown visibly limping throughout the next chapter. This has no impact on his shooting skills and number of remaining lives.
  • Gameplay Grading: The first two games give you a rank at the end of the game based on your performance. In III, 4, and Scarlet Dawn, 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.
  • Giant Spider:
    • The third stage of the first game introduces large green spiders. The third boss, Hermit, is also one, but much bigger and with organic armor.
    • The Lovers from 4 are two huge tarantulas (a small male one atop a larger female) who constantly spawn spiderlings.
  • 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: Thornheart from Scarlet Dawn is revealed to be the mastermind and benefactor of Curien and Goldman's experiments.
  • 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. Scarlet Dawn brings back both the civilian and partner situation to the table, with the same effects.
  • 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 gigantic obese zombie) from 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.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: The first three games are set in the future at the time of their respective releases, but the fourth and fifth games, not counting OVERKILL, are set in the near-past.
  • Level in Boss Clothing:
    • The fight against Death in 3 takes place across two full stagesnote , with the boss itself only making sporadic appearances to attack and let you whittle down its health before you return to blasting other zomb- err, mutants.
    • The fourth chapter in 4 has you fighting a very fat, building-sized zombie called Temperance that cannot be damaged at all. At best, James and Kate can halt the monster's current attack cycle by draining its cancel meter. It chases you through the whole level and the level ends when the pair drop a giant clock on its head.
  • Lighter and Softer:
    • In The Typing of the Dead, 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.
    • EX takes a more comical approach to the series. Heck the tone is more of a love story then a horror motif.
  • 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.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory:
    • The titular house from the first game is actually a gigantic laboratory under a residential facade. There is a reason that Curien's experiment went unnoticed until it's too late. While the first and second chapters take place in the outer mansion, the third and fourth have you scour the lab itself.
    • Some sectors of Goldman's building, the setting of the final chapter of 2, are used for laboratory experiments.
    • III is set entirely within Curien's abandoned lab/skyscraper.
    • The appropriately named "Lab" level of Scarlet Dawn takes place in Thornheart's underground laboratory.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • "Pandora's Box" of course refers to a box that contains unforeseen evils, in this case energy beings with supernatural powers.
    • "Noah's Ark" from Scarlet Dawn. In the Bible, it was used as a refuge for select people to survive a global catastrophe, which killed all unrepentant humans. Thornheart wants to decimate the entirety of humanity, whom he considers unrepentant, and replace them with his creations.
  • 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 from the third game onward, where both Player Character teams consist of a male and a female (Lisa Rogan in 3 and Kate Green in 4 and Scarlet Dawn). Overkill seemingly reverses the change, but the Director's Cut edition compensates this by adding a campaign where the only characters selectable are women.
    • Played straight with the zombies in the first four games. With the possible exception of The Empress boss, whose name and body structure implies that it is a female, the zombies are exclusively male or at least have masculine body structures. Unambiguously female zombies are finally introduced in Overkill.
  • 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, Overkill's Mother and Scarlet Dawn's Moon.
  • 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.
    • Enforced in Typing of the Dead, which needs to give you ample time to type out the game's phrases, though it's averted the times when you need to save NPCs; being unable to make headshots with a keyboard makes the task much harder.
  • 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.
    • From the first game:
      • The Normal ending is simply a shot of the mansion from afar.
      • The Good ending zooms the camera into the main hall, revealing Sophie's survival.
      • The Bad ending is like the Good ending, except Sophie is revealed to have been turned into zombie.
    • From 2:
      • The Normal ending shows Harry, Amy, and the civilians, some of them you saved throughout the game, congratulating you.
      • The Good ending has you meet Rogan.
      • The Bad ending has you meet a zombified Goldman.
    • From III:
      • The Normal ending simply ends with Daniel's speech about his father.
      • The Good ending is comical; a zombie hijacks Lisa's van, forcing her and Daniel to chase it.
      • The Bad ending reveals Daniel's zombification and Lisa's horrified reaction to it.
      • The Secret ending introduces the Mystery Man, later revealed in Scarlet Dawn to be Thornheart. He said something about "him" (possibly Curien) not understanding "its" true purpose.
    • From 4:
      • The Normal ending shows Goldman advising Kate to travel north in search of survivors.
      • The Good ending shows G, foreshadowing the events of 4 Special.
      • The Bad ending is like the Normal ending, except Goldman reveals that he has turned into a zombie.
      • The Secret ending shows Thornheart talking about the existence of more than one Pandora's Box.
    • From 4 Special:
      • The Normal ending has Kate and G successfully destroy the Magician, then continuing to the north in search of survivors.
      • The Bad ending has them fail to stop the Magician, thereby dooming themselves (and possibly the world).
      • The Secret ending once again shows Thornheart, this time boasting that "the Wheel of Fate cannot be stopped".
    • From Scarlet Dawn:
      • The first ending has Kate and Ryan discussing James.
      • The second ending has Thornheart walking in front of tubes filled with liquid, possibly containing his other creations.
      • The third ending has Thornheart saying that he saw the "evolution of envy", so he would follow it with "arrogance".
      • The fourth ending has Thornheart boasting that his plans have only just begun.
  • Naïve Newcomer:
    • Kate in 4 is a fresh recruit to the AMS. Despite the horrifying outcome, the game's events are only her first assignment.
    • Ditto with G in Overkill.
    • Ryan from Scarlet Dawn makes rash decisions and acts dismissive to matters that are clearly important on second thought, implying that he is new to the AMS. Kate, who returns in the game as an experienced senior, has to guide him.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: The first game was released in 1996 but is set in 1998, while 2 was released in 1998 but is set in 2000. Unlike the third game, which shows a completely different society than the real one, the first two games have society and technology on par with then-real life.
  • 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.
    • The PC versions are however 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.
  • Oddball in the Series: Overkill, which was developed by London-based Headstrong Games instead of Sega's in-house division. Its voice acting and grindhouse-style presentation have a more Westernized feel. There's no branching paths or multiple endings. The game takes about 4 hours to complete, while the arcade games take about 20-30 minutes each. The plot deviates from the Curien/Goldman story arc and G is the AMS' only representative. Overkill is also the only main game not released for arcades.
  • One-Letter Name: Agent G.
  • Our Zombies Are Different:
    • House of the Dead is the Trope Maker of the "fast zombie" archetype, where zombies could run and have more intellect. Fast zombies have become common in zombie movies and video games since the 2000s.
    • None of the games actually use the word "zombie". Series director Takashi Oda has stated that he prefers to call them "creatures", given that they are created and not undead. This is lampshaded in Overkill:
    Isaac: "Shit! I fuckin' hate these zom—"
    G: "Mutants. How many times do I have to tell you to not use the Z word?
    • Zombies here come in all shapes and sizes, are surpisingly intelligent for reanimated corpses, wield weapons and elemental powers, and can even drive cars. It is suggested that they are cloned from templates to unleash unto the world. They also don't infect, but simply kill living people. That said, there are some examples of the possibility to be transformed into one in the series, such as the bad endings, the mutants in Overkill and Yukio in 3.
  • Pinball Spin-Off: The Pinball of the Dead.
  • Player Death Is Dramatic: Your character falls dead when you get a game over screen.
  • Raising the Steaks: This series has undead fauna all over the place: bats, owls, spiders, frogs, slugs, rats, scarabs, vultures, piranhas, sloths, leeches, and crows. The first game even features undead monkeys and winged zombie dobermans.
  • Recurring Boss Template: Several Final Bosses have a critical-health attack in which they launch a large number of or difficult-to-hit (or both at once) projectiles above or behind you, forcing the camera away from them as you (desperately) try to shoot down everything that they just fired at you. The camera alternates between pointing at the boss and then back to their hailstorm of projectiles until the boss is finally destroyed.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain:
    • The main weak point for all zombies. The instruction decals on House of the Dead arcade cabinets will remind you about this.
    • Averted with the battle against Team Judgment in 2; Kuarl, the 10-foot tall armored zombie, is headless and must be harmed through other means.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!:
    • Lisa Rogan and Daniel Curien, son of the infamous doctor deliver their own retort to the final boss of III 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!
    • The final chapter to 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?
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: James and Ryan Taylor. The former is calm and shrewd, the latter is Hot-Blooded and reckless. While not apparent in the English voice acting, Ryan uses very informal Japanese in the subtitles (e.g. he refers to James as "aniki", a rough way to call your big brother and stereotypically used by gang members), indicating his boisterous personality. James, meanwhile, just uses ordinary Japanese.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Played straight. In each game, there is only one named female character: Sophie Richards (1), Amy (2), Lisa Rogan (III), and Kate Green (4 and Scarlet Dawn). Even the spin-off game EX only has Zobiko as the sole female. The only aversion is Overkill, which features two women (Varla Guns and Candi Stryper).
  • Spin-Offspring:
    • Thomas Rogan is the P1 character of the first game, while his daughter Lisa is the P1 character of III.
    • James Taylor is the P1 character of 2 and 4. In Scarlet Dawn, the position is taken by his brother, Ryan.
  • Spiritual Successor: Vampire Night, a joint effort between Sega and Namco that utilized similar gameplay, boss encounters, and goofy voice acting and translation. It also introduced the "Boss Cancel" bar that would be used in III onward.
  • The Stinger: Technically, all of the endings qualify, since they are played after the credits.
  • Story Branching: All games in the series have branching paths (usually classified as the "normal" and "hard" paths) which cannot be accessed together within a single playthrough. This is in fact the main Replay Value of the series.
    • II has a lot of these and and are mostly dictated by which civilians the player saves. For example, at the start of Chapter 2, the player can rescue a civilian in a car and will take some stairs to continue the chapter. If the player does not save the civilian, the car will crash into a building, causing the wall to open up which is the path the player continues through for the rest of the chapter. This video showcases every possible route the player can take in Chapters 1-4.
    • Instead a fixed progression, III and Scarlet Dawn allow you to choose which stage out of three you want to play after each one ends. Subverted in that you have to go through all of them if you want to access the final stage, so the only thing changed is the order.
    • 4 introduces an actual decision-making type of this trope. For example, Chapter 1 has you choose between the Corridor and Open Area paths; once you pick one, you can't go to the other within the same playthrough. This makes it a glorified Gamebook.
  • Tarot Motifs:
    • All bosses in the main series (1 through 4 and Scarlet Dawn) are named after a tarot card of the Major Arcana. As of Scarlet Dawn, the only Tarot card not used is the Devil.
    • Averted in ''Overkill': the bosses don't follow this pattern—likely because they weren't developed by Curien, Goldman, or Thornheart.
  • Theme Naming: The bosses of the first four games and Scarlet Dawn, 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.
  • Turns Red: Bosses change up attacks as they get weaker, and their final attacks are often their deadliest.
  • 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:
  • 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. She eventually becomes a main character again in Scarlet Dawn.
    • 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 and Harry, who were supporting characters. Gary does appear, but only in the flashback played in Chapter 6.
  • Would Hit a Girl: There are male and female hostages alike to rescue in the first two games and Scarlet Dawn 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 III - 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 (plus Remake) 
  • Achievement Mockery: The remake gives you a medal for losing all your continues and suffering a Game Over, titled "Really?".
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The grenade launcher in the remake can fall into this. It's extremely powerful and can blast everything into pieces. Key word: everything, which makes it a terrible weapon if you're trying to save the scientists.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: The Curien Mansion is a "mundane" version of this trope. There's lots of physical undead, but no ghosts or spirits. However, the Magician possesses psychic powers.
  • Boss Remix: The chorus in the final boss theme is taken from the song used in the opening demo.
  • 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.
  • Checkpoint Starvation: The original game had to be beaten in one sitting (though it only lasts about 30 minutes). The remake creates a temporary save at the start of each level just in case you need to close the game and come back to it later.
  • Depth of Field: Both the arcade and PC versions of III have a depth-of-field to give the impression of physical depth.
  • Developer's Foresight: Playing as Sophie gives her a unique animation where she, ever the proper lady, holds her skirt down with one hand before jumping into a hatchway.
  • 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.
  • Do Well, But Not Perfect: Beating the game without using any continues automatically gets you the Sophie is a zombie ending. To get the "good" ending, you need to get a high score and use at least 1 continue.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • This is the only game not to use infrared technology for the gun controller; subsequent arcade games have sensors mounted around the screen and the controllers use them to continously track their aim.
    • It is the only game to require explicitly shooting away from the screen to reload. Later games use a weapon-specific gimmick, pointing away from the screen (no need to actually shoot off-screen), or even just releasing the trigger.
    • Not counting 4 Special, which was designed for a larger-scale attraction and only has 2 chapters, this game has the fewest number of chapters of any game in the arcade series, at only four.
  • Earn Your Bad Ending:
    • The Sophie is a zombie ending is actually the hardest ending in the game to get, as it effectively requires you to beat the game without using any continuesnote . The "good" ending, by contrast, is acquired simply by scoring more than 62,000 points.
    • This was changed in the remake so that you get this ending if your score is lower than 62,000 points and the last digit of your score is zero, which ends up making it so you've essentially got a 50/50 chance to get this or the default ending if your score isn't a high score (doable if you set the difficulty into the hardest difficulty with classic scoring that doesn't include multi-kill combos, but pretty much nigh impossible to do in the easier difficulty, especially when continues doesn't reset the score to zero). Both endings count toward the medal collection.
    • Similarly, there is a medal "awarded" for those who kill all scientists in a chapter, like the hidden "Gangster" rank in Virtua Cop.
  • Earn Your Fun: The remake introduces cheat codes that make the game significantly easier, like infinite ammo, one hit killshots, all weapons unlocked, infinite continues, and complete invincibility. However, you can't just input them from the get go, they have to be unlocked by obtaining a certain number of achievements per code, requiring you to play through the game properly first.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: The remake awards you a medal for blasting a zombie into bits very thoroughly, which is easily achievable with the grenade launcher.
  • 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.
  • Ragdoll Physics: The remake adds ragdoll physics to enemies, so their bodies will now collapse against the scenery when killed and you can even continue to shoot their corpses to blast them around and make them gib even more.
  • Revenge: Rogan's motive against Curien when Sophie is seemingly killed by Chariot. The second 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 and ports) if a code was used.
  • Shareware: 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.
  • Shot-for-Shot Remake: The 2022 remake was rebuilt from the ground up (due to the original source code being lost), and although there are a few quality-of-life gameplay additions and a more "Grindhouse"-inspired graphics aesthetic (somewhat akin to Overkill), and some subtle gameplay changes (the Magician is notably not as insanely fast as he was in the original), the game is otherwise a fairly complete recreation of the original 1996 game, with no major artistic or storyline changes to update it for a modern audience. This contrasts with the 2023 remakes of Resident Evil 4 and Dead Space, which removed much of the originals' early 2000's goofiness and over-the-top presentation to deliver a more subdued and mature straightforward action-horror story.
  • Title Drop Chapter: The last chapter is titled "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.
  • Video Game Remake: The House of the Dead: Remake for the Nintendo Switch (with a PC port released several weeks later) by MegaPixel Studio and Forever Entertainment S.A. rebuilds the original game from scratch (due to its source code being lost) and adds modern graphics and controls, while retaining the overall look and feel. Even the cheesy voice acting was left intact, albeit re-recorded with a new cast. However, due to licensing issues, the original soundtrack was replaced by music that sounds vaguely familiar, but clearly different in a "legally distinct" way.
  • We Will Meet Again: Upon defeat, the Magician's warning before exploding:

     The House of the Dead 2 
  • Arrange Mode: Home rereleases include the standard game as "Arcade Mode" and feature the new "Original Mode". In the latter, the player gets to select up to two modifiers for a playthrough, be they alternate weapons, extra ammunition, score modifiers, or just goofy extras, with the tradeoff of not being able to manually set lives/continues without certain modifiers. Each modifier can only be used once per Original Mode run, and more have to be collected by either shooting special targets/saving civilians in Original Mode or (in the Xbox version of the third game or the Wii compilation) by performing well in the startup minigame.
  • 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.
  • Cherry Tapping: Judgement's HP can actually be chipped down by shooting Kuarl, and with Zeal sometimes flying into the crossfire, this can end the first phase much quicker. One of the extra missions in the home releases of 2 requires you to defeat Kuarl by only shooting him.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Goldman appears to be one, but then turns out to be much worse.
  • Death of a Child: Child characters are just as readily murdered by the undead if you are not quick on the trigger.
  • Final-Exam Boss: The Emperor's metal orbs morph into all previously-killed bosses (except Magician); hitting their respective weak spots will disrupt the attacks.
  • Fish Person: The Hierophant, the second boss, is an aquatic reptilian beast who carries a trident.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: While they also double as Blink-and-You-Miss-It and Freeze-Frame Bonus moments, in some versions of the game, two of the endings have Zombie Goldman or Amy, Harry, and G accompanied by civilians visible before the door even opens.
  • 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"?
  • Long Song, Short Scene: The scene in which the Magician appears lasts a little over 15 seconds. The song that plays seems to last just as long, but it's actually about two minutes long.
  • Ominous Owl: The Moowls, which are zombified owls.
  • 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.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: The fourth chapter's splash screen says that it's "The Forth Chapter"
  • 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.
  • This Is da Faynl Bawdl: Before the final boss.
    Goldman: Show yourself! Our new ruler, the Emperor!

     The House of the Dead III 
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: III is set in a post-apocalyptic 2019, where the zombie infestation has spread throughout the world. The game was released in 2002.
  • Action Prologue: "Chapter 0" is the ill-fated mission Thomas Rogan and his squad of mercs went on to try and track the source of the zombie infestation. The second player here is a merc named "Dan Taylor" who gets killed once they arrive in the central control room. The merc who gets mauled by the zombies in the first cutscene comes back as a Mini-Boss zombie right before the final battle against the Wheel of Fate who takes a lot more punishment than the average undead.
  • After the End: By this point in the series, the Zombie Apocalypse has gone global. It's lasted sixteen years.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: The latter section of the final chapter sees G step aside to let Daniel Curien become the player character going into the final boss.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: During "rescue your partner" scenarios, shooting at your on-screen partner won't penalize you, unlike in the previous two games. The Return version's tutorials even point this out.
  • 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 Damn Reunion: A small one, but Lisa's reunion with her father in the final chapter. With how she and G hadn't heard from him in two weeks, Lisa rushes in to hug her father as soon as they find him.
  • Book Ends: The prologue chapter and the end of the final chapter in III take place in the same areas.
  • Breaking Old Trends: This game strays quite far from the previous two.
    • The main weapons are shotguns instead of handguns, therefore the reload mechanism is simpler to perform.
    • The player is given a choice to pick the floors they would like to visit first, and the order of which levels are picked first or last may affect the ending of the game. However, there are much less routes to pick during the levels themselves.
    • The prologue features no bosses whatsoever and has a different duo of protagonists, one of whom ends up dead by the end of the level.
    • The first boss faced, Death, actually survives the initial battle and is warded off rather than incapaciated. He is faced the second time and defeated for good in one of subsequent chapters.
    • During the second battle, Death spends a lot of time stalking the players through the whole level and has to be fought back quite a lot.
    • After the battle with The Sun, the level does not end instantly, instead you have a couple more action sequences to go through before you reach the elevator.
    • The final chapter swaps the second player character with a different one.
  • 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.
    • Lampshaded by G and Lisa.
      Lisa: Well, he certainly is persistent!
  • Embedded Precursor: The Xbox version includes the PC port of The House of the Dead 2, and the unique mini-game when accessing it returned in 2 & 3 Return.
  • Friendly Fireproof: At several points, one player is cornered by zombies and the other must rescue their partner by killing the offending enemies. Not only does shooting your partner not cause any sort of penalty (unlike past games where Hostage Spirit-Link is in effect), but the console ports even point this out.
  • Halloween Episode: The game takes place on October 31, 2019.
  • Interface Screw: When you whittle the Final Boss to their last phase, the overall boss health meter refills to full, which seems to suggest that the fight is going to go on much longer. However, the next and final phase is not as long as one may think, as both the boss bar and the phase bar go down in sync as you damage the boss.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: The first and second games were fairly straightforward with their design. III was the first game in the series to experiment with breaking the mold a little. The fourth game went back on a couple of these ideas, though.
    • There are no civilians this time (mostly since virtually everyone is already dead at this point). Rather at times you'll have to bail your partner out for life ups.
    • The characters have shotguns, which means you don't need to shoot outside the screen to reload (just pump the gun).
    • The game is less linear than the others by way of an elevator that lets the protagonists conquer different floors in any order they please.
    • Bosses can appear right from the start of a level and are fought progressively through the entire stage instead of just at the end, with moments of typical light gun gameplay happening between the encounters. Bosses are also given a separate meter from their health bar that shows how close you are to stopping whatever attack they are currently in (starting with 4, this would be called the "Cancel" meter).
    • A more resilient zombie shows up in the final chapter to act as a Mini-Boss instead of a Boss Rush against less powerful versions of previous bosses, as per the first two installments (canonically this makes sense as without someone like Curien or Goldman reviving the fallen bosses, once they're dead they stay dead).
    • The game as a whole is considerably more story-focused than the previous installments, exploring Lisa Rogan's relationship with her father as well as the motives behind Dr. Curien's insanity and the guilt his son has had to live with.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Dr. 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).
  • Mini-Boss: The final chapter features the Red Shirt commando who dies at the start of the game as this; a first for the franchise. He behaves similarly to the zombified members of Rogan's team, but can take much more punishment than ordinary enemies, as he gets back up after being shot down multiple times. It takes the entire upper half of his body being blown off for him to finally die.
  • 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:
    • In the BIO Lab, there are zombies who appear to have been fused with plant life, attacking with vine-like limbs.
    • Though it's technically not a person per se, The Sun is a living plant-like abomination.
  • Red Shirt Army: Thomas Rogan's team who initially investigated the facility.
  • R-Rated Opening: The second to last remaining member of Thomas Rogan's team is gruesomely killed at the start of the game.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: Encouraged with the Time Attack mode.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: III ditches the handguns from the previous entries in favor of shotguns.
  • Species Subversives: Fool is a mutated giant sloth that is shockingly fast at moving around its cage compared to the normal sloth.
  • Time Skip: This game happens the furthest in the timeline, 13 years after Scarlet Dawn (and 19 years after the previous installment). Every mainline game since this one has been an Interquel as a result. Also, two weeks pass since the Prelude chapter and the main game.
  • Updated Re-release:
    • The version of III in the Wii compilation gives the player the ability to block an attack with their gun, but requires reloading after each use. It also introduces an "Extreme Mode" where enemies are tougher and the blast radius is reduced.
    • 2 & 3 Return itself is pretty much a rebranded version of the Xbox port of III that utilizes the Wii's motion controls.
  • Villainous Lineage: Daniel struggles with this, but gets over it after blowing up the zombie-android resurrection of his father.
  • Vine Tentacles: In the botanical research lab overgrown with plants, every now and then the players will need to fend off whip-like vines coming out of holes in walls by shooting them. At the end of the level, it turns out these vines belonged to The Sun, a giant Foul Flower boss who had taken over a whole section of the lab.
  • You're Not My Father: Daniel says this word-for-word before killing the Wheel of Fate, the One-Winged Angel form of his resurrected father Dr. Curien.

     The House of the Dead 4 and Special 
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The protagonists are AMS agents, and the game starts when zombies besiege an AMS base.
  • Arc Words: Hope.
  • Bittersweet Ending: James sacrifices himself to stop the World and foil Goldman's plot, but Kate is now left alone, and a secret ending depicts a mysterious man (revealed to be Thornheart in Scarlet Dawn) implying that the horror has just begun...
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Downplayed. Zombies can be bloodied and wounded, but cannot be dismembered. Upon death, they blacken, fall over, and disintegrate.
  • Callback: Seeing as Goldman serves as the game's antagonist again, a few are made to the second game (see Nostalgia Level below).
    Kate: It's almost like we're being invited in.
  • 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.
  • Cherry Tapping: This is actually possible with multiple bosses in the game, and it either chips away the cancel meter or even their main health depending on the boss, usually by shooting the boss anyway even if there's no crosshair prompting you to shoot.
    • Justice's cancel bar can be depleted a little if you shoot him before he moves offscreen or even after you've successfully broken free of his grip attack. If you're lucky, you're a bit more likely to fend him off before he does a dropkick on you...Unless you have grenades.
    • The Lovers' have one particular moment in the fightnote  where you can keep shooting at them to deplete their cancel bar a little.
    • The Star's health still depletes a little if you shoot him at any time, which includes the very beginning of the fight, or even if you just fended off one of his attacks.
  • Continuity Nod: The final two chapters are identical to the ones in 2 (shooting zombies while driving, and finally storming Goldman's headquarters). Remixed versions of the original songs also play.
  • Downer Ending: The "Bad Ending" of Special, earned by failing to stop the Magician's last-ditch attack via a well-thrown grenade. He creates dozens of clones of himself, much to the AMS agents' horror, and laughs.
  • Feed It a Bomb: Grenades can be chucked into Justice's mouth, instantly stopping his attacks and whittling down his health bar.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Since this is an Interquel, regardless of the outcome the end result is going to be the downfall of civilization and the collapse of the AMS (although Scarlet Dawn shows the world and the organization are still intact at least through 2006).
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Inexplicably, "darn" and "heck" are littered throughout the dialogue, without any real profanity (All instances of "darn" however, suspiciously sound like "damn" despite what it says in the subtitles). One wonders if the ludicrously profane dialogue in Overkill was meant to make up for this.
  • Guide Dang It!: 4 has some notable ones.
    • Never does the game mention that shooting the propane tanks of the welder wielding Berns acts like a grenade blast, nor the fact that Justice's attacks can be stopped by throwing a grenade into his mouth. Other bosses can also be damaged the same way (even the Final Boss), but it's only Justice that specifically responds to being damaged by a grenade.
    • It's also never made clear that holding the grenade button allows you to throw them farther. Normally you can get by fine without ever needing this info, but you cannot defeat the final boss of Special if you're unaware of it.
    • Same with the various "treasure rooms" (secret areas with extra grenades and points) hidden throughout the game.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: To stop the World and close Pandora's Box, James sets his PDA to self-destruct and sacrifices himself in the resulting explosion.
  • Interquel: The game takes place after 2 but before III.
  • Jiggle Physics: Disturbingly applied with the Temperance boss.
  • Just Before the End: 4 takes place slightly during whatever catastrophe befell the world. Or so we thought until Scarlet Dawn...
  • 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.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • At the end of Chapter 4, James or Kate delivers a humorous Post-Mortem One-Liner after defeating Temperance. Then they climb to the roof of the clock tower they're on and realize the horrific extent of the latest mutant apocalypse.
    • The stakes are high in the final chapter as Kate and James make their way up DBR HQ trying to stop Goldman's nuclear missile strike, and furthermore James is injured due to The Star's Last Ditch Move in the previous chapter's boss fight and having to be physically escorted by Kate. Then they arrive in a room with bright Japanese decor and Kate cracks the last joke in the game:
      Kate: I think he needs to hire a new decorator.
  • More Dakka: The default weapon in this game is a machine pistol with 30-bullet clips. Special increases it to 100 bullets.
  • Motive Rant: In between chapters, Goldman gives several about the consequences of mankind's arrogance and greed. The final chapter reveals he was ranting during the events of 2 to James and Gary. This also seems to Retcon his infamous speech about the "Life Cycle" from 2.
    Goldman: Earth has evolved in a way so that it naturally regulates the population of any given species. [slams fist on desk] Humans were once subject to this system, regardless of whether or not they knew it. [Grins as the camera pans to reveal James and Gary, who draw their guns] Pandora's Box is opening...
    James: Is that all you have to say, Goldman?!
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Justice is a huge, four-armed zombie brute who chases you around a sewer.
  • Nostalgia Level: The final two chapters are the same as in 2, featuring the same set pieces and enemies (the cyborg zombies in Goldman's headquarters). Kate even paraphrases James' line from 2 ("It's almost like we're being invited in...", complete with a gaze around the lobby) when they step through the DBR Corporation doors (though this time a boss is waiting for them in the lobby). In a slight deviation, James and Kate go one floor below the 50th floor to the 49th floor on this trip, which is very Japanese-themed. However the ascent to Goldman's office is the same as it was in 2 and the end-boss is fought at the entrance to the DBR Corporation instead of on the roof.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: In 4 Special, the music that plays during the Magician's introduction and the Non-Standard Game Over is the same version of the song used in 2's original mode. note 
  • Scenery Gorn: Kate and James get a very nice view of the burning shell of Venice at the end of 4's fourth chapter.
  • Seemingly Hopeless Boss Fight: Temperance is an absolutely invincible monster whose Kevlard absorbs literally everything you throw at him, and you can only stall him off by repeatedly shooting his head. Even then, your bullets doesn't even leave a dent in his life meter, resulting in James and Kate fleeing from Temperance up a clock tower, where at the top floor, they can trigger a lever trap dropping an entire clock face onto Temperance's skull, killing the otherwise nigh-invincible monster.
  • 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.
  • Smart Bomb: In the form of grenades. When thrown, their Area of Effect inflicts massive damage. You're given 3 at the start of each chapter, and can find more hidden in destructible objects.
  • Uncertain Doom: At the end of 4 Special, should you fail to stop the Magician's final attack, he summons a legion of clones of himself. After G makes a "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner, the game cuts to black; the exact fate of G and Kate is left unknown.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Justice resorts to dropkicks later in his fight.
  • Zerg Rush: The zombie hordes are much denser in this game to account for the protagonists wielding machine pistols instead of semi-auto handguns. You can also throw a grenade to completely nuke a group of enemies to help thin the numbers.

     House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn 
  • Back from the Dead:
    • Chariot and Hangedman return once again as bosses.
    • Thornheart is also stated to be this, as it was widely believed he succumbed to a fatal illness several years before.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Inverted for the first time. Zombies cannot be dismembered or even bloodied; when damaged or killed, they explode into flames and vanish.
  • Blood-Stained Glass Windows: The final chapter is set in a chapel richly decorated with stained glass windows.
  • Breaking Old Trends: Scarlet Dawn is the first game in the series to not have a bad ending involving some form of And Then John Was a Zombie. All 3 out of the game's 4 endings have Thornheart musing in different locations, which all serve as Sequel Hooks.
  • Call-Back:
    • A few to the original game. Several enemies and two bosses reappear. The beginning of the Annex stage is similar to the Curien Mansion's foyer, featuring midget zombies attacking from a chandelier and an ax-welding zombie bursting through a door.
    • Some of Kate's lines echo her previous adventure in 4:
      • She recalls James lamenting that their experience in 4 was only just the beginning of something terrible. She also recalls her promise to him not to give up hope.
      • If you pick the left elevator in the Annex stage, Kate exclaims "When in doubt, head left." In 4, she also says this if you choose the Corridor path during Chapter 1. Ryan, who was absent from 4, echoes players who haven't yet played 4 and is confused.
        Ryan: What? 'Why'?
      • In the Laboratory stage, Kate "[digs] up bad memories" about walking in sewer water—this references 4's second chapter, which takes place in a sewer and has Kate making similar comments.
      • In the final stage, when the doors of Thornheart's church open before Kate and Ryan, she mentions that they're being invited in. In 2 and 4, the protagonists say a version of this when entering Goldman's headquarters.
    • For the second time, Kate has to watch a Taylor risk death to destroy a madman's ultimate creation and final boss (for bonus points, she also screams his name before he does it). Except this time, he lives.
  • Contrived Coincidence: A lightning strike miraculously strikes the spear Ryan used to impale the Moon, electrifying it. So miraculous, Kate speculates that it was James' divine intervention.
  • Difficulty by Region: The International version removes some of the features found in the Japanese version, making certain things easier (such as the removal of HOD coins needed to purchase items) and difficult in others (removing the Life item from being purchased, and offering only one life bonus after beating the stage instead of up to two).
  • Difficulty Levels: The Japanese version lets you choose between a Normal and Master mode; the latter throws larger hordes of zombies at you.
  • Everything's Better with Samurai: One of the new enemies, Mac, wields the sword and agility of a samurai.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • There are a lot of establishing shots that focus on the full moon. Who is the final boss of this game? The Moon.
    • Just before the final boss, Kate and Ryan enter a garden filled with blue roses. Kate and Ryan have this conversation:
      Kate: In the language of flowers, it means a divine miracle.
      Ryan: Oh good, I could use one of those.
  • 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 decorative red and black dress.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: In a few cutscenes, such as the opening creature attack in Scarecrow Manor and when Kate frees some civilians trapped in a cell during the chase sequence with Chariot, the civilians noticeably use a few Stock Screams, including one for a crowd, which were never used for any civilians in-game in the past.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Bruce, one of the new zombies, is a Slash lookalike—complete with a top hat, shades, a similar hairstyle, and guitar!
  • Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: The game is the fifth installment in the main series, yet it is named with a subtitle instead of a number. The series name The House of the Dead is also shortened to just House of the Dead. According to Word of God, the subtitle was used to make the game more approachable to new players.
  • Scenery Gorn: During the final boss battle, the environment surrounding Scarecrow Manor is leveled to the ground. The only structure surviving is a single tower, and badly damaged at that.
  • Scenery Porn: The game's scenery is gorgeous. Thank the Unreal Engine 4 for that.
  • Sequel Hook: The endings reveal that Thornheart is still alive, and are accompanied by the text "To be continued in the next HOUSE OF THE DEAD..."
  • 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.
  • Zerg Rush: Zombies attack in massive droves in this game and you'll soon find yourself fighting against a horde of them.

     The Typing of the Dead 
  • Anti-Frustration Features: You don't actually have to type spaces in phrases or even holding Shift for capital and punctuation. Nevertheless, if you do, the game will simply ignore them for typo-counting purposes (for example, when fighting the Magician's first phase, where a mistype will take away one life).
  • Creator's Culture Carryover: The tutorial explains, even in the English-language versions, that one of the benefits of touch-type is so you can "leave work early and go to karaoke". While that might make sense in Japan, if you're playing the game in a country where English is the dominant language (such as the U.S.), post-work karaoke is probably not a very common pastime where you live. More confusingly, the game takes place in Europe, meaning that the game is applying Japanese work culture to a Western civilizaton.
  • 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. And in the Multiple Endings, Goldman falls off of the roof and blows up at the bottom, is brought back up with a bungie cord and burps, or farts and flies off into space.
  • Content Warnings: One of the paragraphs has the player type during the Strength boss fight is the game's Content Warning.
  • Dancing Mook Credits: The game 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."
  • 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. The last phrase of the Emperor battle also has one, although any of the answers will work.
  • Rapid-Fire Typing: "Type or Die" indeed. It helps that the game helps you to do just that by, see Anti Frustration Features above.
  • 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).
  • Shout-Out: Without naming names, one of the possible paragraphs you'll be typing during Strength's boss fight specifically describes a certain red echidna.
  • SelfParody: 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).
  • Take That!: When you use the "unlock everything" cheat (KIKMAHP, DKRORCR, or STKZJGH), one of the entries included in the arcade mode ranking has this:
    Jenny Sony sucks and Sega rocks. Period."
  • Timed Mission: Occasionally, you'll be tasked with killing a brief horde of zombies within a time limit without getting hit.
  • Visible Silence: In two of the three endings, James reacts with "..." when either Goldman goes up in a comical explosion upon falling to the ground at the ground level of the headquarters, or he farts and flies off into the sky.

     The House of the Dead EX 
  • The Cameo: Gary, James and Kate show up in the "Detective Zobiko" minigame.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Zobiko is a Cute Zombie Girl. And a protagonist.
  • 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: Zobio 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 an ally to them. And the Star in the final battle again The World.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Zobio 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 Zobio 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, Zobio and Zobiko shout out "Get Ready!"
  • Lighter and Softer: Sure, Overkill is basically a comedy, but at least it still uses a realistic visual style. This one? Not so much, and on top of that the plot is a zombie love story and the game consists of a lot of cute minigames.
  • 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.
  • Oddball in the Series: While a lightgun game, it's differentates itself from the others in being a mini-game game and focuses more on comedy then horror.
  • 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.
  • Worst Aid: One stage is a parody of the Justice boss fight from 4, except instead of fighting him, you have to remove his bad teeth... by shooting them out.

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, Curien Mansion