The House of the Dead is a rail shooter light gun game. Players use a light gun (or mouse, in the PC version) to aim and shoot at approaching enemies. The characters' pistols use magazines which hold 6 rounds; players reload by shooting away from the screen. A set of torches next to the magazine of each player represents remaining health. When a player sustains damage or shoots a civilian, one of their torches is removed. The player dies when all torches are lost and it takes them to the game over screen. First-aid packs are available throughout the game which restore one torch. These are found either in the possession of civilians whom the player has rescued or inside breakable objects. Similarly, there are also special items located in breakable objects that will grant a bonus to whoever shoots it.
Throughout the course of the game, players are faced with numerous situations in which their action (or inaction) will have an effect on the direction of gameplay. This is exemplified in the opening stage of the game when a civilian is about to be thrown from the bridge to his death. If the player saves the civilian, they will enter the house directly through the front door; however, if the player fails to rescue the civilian, the character is redirected to an underground route through the sewers. If the player rescues all civilians, a secret room full of lives and bonuses is revealed toward the end of the game.
The renowned biochemist and geneticist Dr. Roy Curien Mansion becomes obsessed with discovering the nature of life and death. While supported by the DBR Corporation and its own team of scientists, Curien's relentless pursuit of this goal slowly drove him insane. His behavior became more erratic and his experiments take a gruesome turn, resulting in him releasing his experimental subjects onto the unsuspecting world. The Curien Mansion in Europe, which serves as his home and laboratory, experiences an outbreak and becomes the scene of many disappearances.
On December 18, 1998, AMS agent Thomas Rogan receives a distressed phone call from his fiancée, Sophie Richards. Accompanied by his partner "G", they fly to Europe on an assignment to investigate a panicked phone call from Rogan's and a series of disappearances at Curien mansion. The agents arrive at the scene to find the estate overrun with outrageous creatures. A mortally wounded man gives them a journal containing information about Curien's deadly creations and their weaknesses.
Amidst the chaos, Rogan and G reach Sophie only to witness her being snatched by The Hangedman (Type 041), a gargoyle-like creature with bat ears and bandaged legs. They later see her being attacked by The Chariot (Type 27) a green/silver plated undead warrior armed with a Bardiche. Once they defeat it, they tend to Sophie, who seemingly succumbs to her injuries. The furious Rogan then goes to fight the Hangedman, leading the agents to the rooftops surrounding the grand courtyard. During the fight, the Hangedman kills two DBR scientists in the courtyard and nearly drops the agents to their death. The agents manage to kill the Hangedman and enter the mansion once more.
When the agents find Curien, the scientist releases the Hermit (Type 6803), a mutant 6 legged spider crab-like creature guarding the passageway leading to Curien's restricted research area. After they defeat it, the agents confront Chariot and Hangedman once more.
Upon confronting Curien in his giant laboratory, the AMS agents are treated to his greatest masterpiece, The Magician (Type 0), a grotesque, humanoid demon creature not yet complete with armor, which appears to have some exposed muscles (his weak points), ram-like horns and a long red scar on his left eye, known for his pyrokinesis. Ironically, after being released, the Magician reveals himself to be self-aware, refusing to serve any master and kills Curien. To prevent the Magician from escaping the mansion and destroying the world, Rogan and "G" confront it in one final battle. After a long and difficult fight, the Magician gives a final warning, "You... haven't seen... anything yet!", which could be a foreshadowing to his later appearances, before dying in an explosion. The agents then leave the mansion, taking one last look at it from the outside, then the game ends.
There are, however, alternate endings in which the camera pans to the foyer one last time; the doors then open, showing either Sophie alive, running into the camera saying "Thank you!"
(suggesting that she was merely knocked unconscious by The Chariot, and might be the mother of Lisa Rogan in House of the Dead III) or Sophie as one of the undead. (which therefore might not be canon, and suggesting that she really was killed by The Chariot and rose from the dead as the only female zombie in the game), depending on the player's score and the number of continues used.
The House of the Dead can be played on the PC, Sega Saturn or at Arcades. You can purchase the game at many retailers on the internet such as Amazon.co.uk, Play.com or Game.co.uk or Ebay.co.uk Currently, finding a copy of the Saturn game is rare and used copies consistently sell for more than $90 US. The arcade version is also rare with a very small number of arcades that still run the game.
The arcade version of The House of the Dead was generally well received. However, the PC and Saturn releases were both met with mixed reviews. The game received a percentage score of 70.54% by GameRankings. The arcade version received 4.5 out of 5 stars, while both the Saturn and Windows port were rated 4 stars by Allgame.
Chapters & Bosses Edit
There are a total of 4 chapters (levels) in House of the Dead. Each chapter has a boss character who is fought at the end of the chapter. Some later chapters feature reappearances of bosses from earlier levels.
- Chapter 1: Tragedy (Boss: Chariot)
- Chapter 2: Revenge (Boss: Hangedman)
- Chapter 3: Truth (Boss: Hermit)
- Chapter 4: The House of the Dead (Boss: Magician)
- The first House of the Dead can be compared with the first Resident Evil in many ways:
- Both involve zombies and other ungodly creatures, although in RE, their zombies were based on the Romero type of zombie.
- Both games were developed in 1996.
- Both games take place in the year 1998, however, Resident Evil takes place in July while House of the Dead takes place in December.
- Both games is set in a mansion with a secret laboratory underneath which houses the antagonist's masterpiece: an abomination that eventually turns on their masters.
- The only difference is that the Curien Mansion does not explode in the ending while the Spencer Mansion explodes in a fiery inferno in Resident Evil.
- Though the game's intro showed the date December 18th, 1998, the game actually took place on December 20th. The game's Sega Saturn manual revealed that December 18th was when Curien unleashed his undead experiments and Rogan receiving Sophie's message.
- According to an interview from "The Website of the Dead" with series creator Takashi Oda, it was revealed from a Japanese game guide that the first House of the Dead was originally pitched as a ghost-hunting game. In that original draft, Sophie Richards would also appear as a villain.
- To quote Takashi Oda- "In the initial game design document, the game’s environment was pretty close to what it is now. There were ideas to try a world where you face ghosts, but a game where you fight against phenomena that you can’t see was never an option. There was an idea to make Sophie a boss in the sequel, but that plot was deleted early in the planning phase."
- In the same interview, Takashi Oda cited the film Se7en as being the main influence for the atmosphere and final look of the first game. This must be why Thomas Rogan bears a somewhat striking resemblance to Brad Pitt.
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