The House of the Dead (series)

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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 game 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, House of the Dead 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 weak voice acting 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, just because it's cool. A great majority of the zombie population in these games either are fast, wield weapons, have supernatural powers, or are just very, 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. The sheer ridiculousness of the games makes for some amazing boss battles and fight scenes. Better yet, this was the precursor to Dead Space - you can use precision shots to dissect the zombies in any manner you please. Torso wounds become gaping bloody holes, but do limited damage. Shoot a zombie in the arm, the arm will be blown off, and its attacks will be weaker if it gets close enough to do damage. Shoot a zombie in the leg, the leg will be blown off, and it will crawl at you(quickly). Of course, headshots are the best way to kill zombies, but only a shot between the eyes is a One-Hit Kill - zombies running at you with half their head blown off is common. Just don't stop here expecting a gripping story, nuanced characters, or some kind of social message.

The latest game in the series, the Wii-exclusive House of the Dead: Overkill, is a prequel that takes the unintentionally bad voice acting and runs with it, resulting in a B-movie grindhouse-style presentation. The game's mere existence could qualify as a Crowning Moment of Awesome for the series as a whole. An Updated Rerelease, House of the Dead: Overkill - Extended Cut, was later released for the PlayStation 3 with Move support.

Of course, this isn't all to the series. A beat 'em up side story game called Zombie Revenge was released on the arcade and Dreamcast. After that came Typing of the Dead, which is basically a re-release of HotD 2, only now instead of bullets you kill with powered keyboards, followed by a sequel, which rehashed HotD 3 (Look, don't knock until you've tried it, okay?). There was a Pinball of the Dead for the Game Boy Advance, and a rare House of the Dead 4 Special arcade that serves as a continuation of the original 4th installment, this time the game being made into a motion ride of sorts with that switches between two screens as the zombies come after you. There's also House of the Dead EX, which goes the comical route and put 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. And lastly, the Sega Superstars series features House of the Dead cameos, the most prominent being the latest installment, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, with three tracks taking place in the Curien Mansion and the aforementioned runaway undead lovebirds as playable racers.

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


How could anyone do this?
  • Achilles' Heel: All bosses (even monsters with supposedly "unknown" weaknesses) have these. Usually some form of note would appear to highlight the weakness, although the exact nature of the clue varies from game to game: the first two HOTD games make use of research notes, while HOTD 4 has a PDA scan. HOTD 3 doesn't even come up with an excuse for what's giving the heroes a hint.
    • One of the best examples: Hierophant, a hideous frog thing whose chest bursts open every time it takes a breath for an easy potshot at its heart. It's one of the easiest boss battles in the series.
    • However, while each game's final boss will always have an "Unknown" weakness, one glance at them will pretty much give away where you need to insert the bullets.
    • In Overkill, not only are all the bosses' weaknesses pointed out in a screen before the battle, but a red circle appears around them when it's time to start shooting at them. The vulnerable spot changes depending on when it is in the battle, as in the first phase of the Crawler battle, you attack its claws, and toward the end, you attack its head.
      • Averted in the PlayStation 3 version where they take out the red circle button when it's time to shoot them.
  • After the End: House of the Dead 3, where the Zombie Apocalypse has gone global. It's lasted sixteen years.
  • Action Girl: Varla Guns in Overkill, heavily lampshaded in her introduction voiceover. She slowly turns out to be a Faux Action Girl, though, which is itself lampshaded too, but the Extended Cut, in turn, defies that status by putting her and Candi Stryper in spotlight. Of course, via the all-new exclusive Naked Terror and Creeping Flesh episodes.
    • Lisa Garland in the third movie.
    • Oh, yeah. And Lisa Rogan in 3.
    • And Kate in 4.
  • Always Night: While the first game seems quite dark, all the sequels are closer to "always overcast". Overkill eventually makes it to sunset.
    • Extended Cut, in turn, does the opposite.
  • An Axe to Grind: In all the games, often in a cross position to force the player to blow off the head or shoot their guts until they keel over. Overkill just makes them more damaging (two points instead of one).
  • Anticlimax Boss: Mother in OVERKILL, aside from the last phase. Probably deliberate, judging by the cutscene before the fight.
  • Appendage Assimilation: The giant wall of faces of The Sun from the third game.
    • Nigel and Sebastian in OVERKILL.
  • Artifact Title: It's more like "ridiculously huge mansion of the dead", even in the first game. The second and fourth games are more along the lines of "City of the Dead". At the very least, the third game somewhat counts, as it takes place in a gigantic skyscraper.
  • Ascended Meme: Suffer Like G Did is a PlayStation 3 achievement where you need to be on your last life bar and then complete the level.
  • Badass Longcoat: Rogan.
  • Badass Normal: All of the main protagonists. Lampshaded in OVERKILL a ton.
    • "The G stands fo' GENOCIDE, muthafucka!"
  • The Bechdel Test: All the games fail this, by having one female character per game. Overkill's ending lampshades that the story is not a shining example of feminism.
  • Big Bad: Dr. Roy Curien, then Caleb Goldman.
    • And in one of The House of the Dead 4's endings, it's implied that there's an even Bigger Bad at work; a mysterious limping man complains that "Goldman was too soft." His appearance in III and 4 have led to a fair amount of Wild Mass Guessing, much of which involves a sequel to 4.
    • Also, Papa Caesar in Overkill. Sort of. He only appears to be the Big Bad for the five chapters (out of seven) of the story. He's later supplanted by Warden Darling.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: The mansion in the first game could be considered a more "mundane" version of this trope. There are lots of physical undead, but no ghosts or any other type of spirit. However, the Magician possesses psychic powers..
  • Body Horror: Many of the enemies, especially Nigel and Sebastian (two twins horribly fused together) and the Lobber from Overkill. And from the same game, Varla Guns, after Warden Darling put his mother's brain in her head... and apparently forgot to reattach the back of her cranium.
  • Bond One-Liner: Lisa Rogan tries to pull these off at regular intervals. Highlights include "I never was any good at gardening", after blowing away a giant evil plant, and "When a lady says no, she means it!", regarding a rather persistent security guard... with a giant stick.
    • Kate Green has one with "How do you like my low fat, all lead diet?" after dropping a huge clock on top of Temperance's head.
  • Boss Rush: During the last levels of HOTD 2, you'll have to face a revived Judgement, Hierophant, Magician, and Tower before dealing with the final boss.
    • The first game made the player re-fight the Chariot and Hangedman in the final chapter before fighting the Magician.
  • Boss Subtitles: Each boss fight is prefaced with a profile of the boss with its weak points highlighted.
  • Brick Joke: Washington calls G "Agent Gwendolyn" at the beginning of the Carnival chapter; G doesn't protest until two chapters later.
  • Canon Discontinuity: The manual for the Saturn port of HOTD1 made rather blatant references to G having "metallic"-tasting blood and behaving "mechanically", implying he was a robot or cyborg. Needless to say, this was never followed up on.
  • Chainsaw Good: Ironically for a zombie work, this trope is put to use by the undead; most entries of the series have at least one type of zombie wielding a chainsaw with intent.
    • Even the bosses get to have some fun, notably Strength and The Empress in HOTD 2 and 4, respectively.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Overkill. And HOW!
    • Justifiable, since Overkill had no arcade release and went straight to Wii, so no innocent ears can be corrupted.
      • On top of that, Overkill had been awarded the Guinness World Record for "most profanity in a video game"... [1]... until Mafia II came and dethroned it, although the Updated Rerelease may have taken back the title. By their measure, 189 swear words were uttered over three hours, averaging to roughly one f-bomb per minute. Do not play a drinking game with this video game unless you want alcohol poisoning.
      • It did. Someone personally counted 370 of them. And that's not everything yet!
    • Lampshaded in the last level:

G: "Care to dial down the swearing, Wash?"
Isaac: "Fuck that, motherfucker!"

    • G lampshades again when he notices that, of all the things they saw, the only thing Washington didn't call a "motherfucker" was Warden Darling, who was a literal mother fucker.
    • And now the Extended Cut will play with this: the speech is censored by default, in both voice and subtitles. How do you restore the dialogue to its foulmouthed glory? By shooting the censored words during cutscenes.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: The end of Overkill has the characters discuss the true meaning of their ordeal, with Washington thinking it's a postmodernist deconstruction of modern feminism. And swear gratuitously... even G, though he's just mocking Washington.
  • Continuity Nod: Overkill has a couple: For example, the version of G's theme tune that plays over the main menu is titled Suffer Like G Did.
    • Also, the final levels of 4 take place in the same area, and play just like, the final levels of 2.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Goldman appears to be one, but then turns out to be much worse.
  • Crippleware: The first game's demo was time-limited; a big timer counted down from three minutes, and the game would quit once the timer reached zero. The hack-savvy player who used a memory location editor to freeze the timer would find out that the timer was the only thing crippling the game; with it out of the way, it was possible to play the game to the end.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Nearly every single boss and every single protagonist. Taken to extremes in Overkill, as the character doesn't even yell out in pain when he gets hit (aside from the first boss battle, in which Washington will curse about how nasty getting hit with a severed leg is). Taken to less of an extent in 4, since the characters tend to gripe when their health is low.
  • Cowboy Cop: Isaac Washington from Overkill would probably be this if we saw him do police work instead of shooting zombies mutants.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Zobiko in The House of the Dead EX is a Cute Zombie Girl. And a protagonist.
  • Damsel in Distress: Sophie Richards in the first game. Also, you will find those (either civilians or your partner) who will need rescue throughout your mission. Saving them nets you a life bonus most of the time. Subverted in III, in which it's your partner that you rescue, and even then, they're only in trouble for a few seconds, retreating back to you regardless of whether you succeed or fail. On top of that, Thomas Rogan is the one in distress, and it's his Action Girl daughter to the rescue (along with his old AMS buddy, G). Avoided outright in 4, in which there's nobody to rescue. And finally, Varla Guns... twice.
  • David Versus Goliath: There's always at least one giant-sized boss.
  • Dead Weight: In the first few stages of Overkill, 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.
    • Same thing goes for the first few games. Oddly enough, along with health, they were faster, too (though nothing a headshot won't fix, though they're at an odd, hard-to-hit angle in the second installment).
    • In Overkill, G theorizes that bulkier mutants (specifically, the mutant football players that only show up in "Carny") are faster due to the mutant compound altering their metabolism. It's as good an explanation as any, really.
    • Taken Up to Eleven with the morbidly obese boss Temperance, who runs around and can turn himself into a bowling ball of undead fat.
  • Deconstruction: Parodied in Overkill, of zombie movies in general. For example, in the ending, G and Isaac wonder what the underlying metaphor of this game was, with G suggesting "love isn't always right" and Isaac calling it a "damning indictment of contemporary feminism", pointing out that there are few other interpretations to "two dick-wielding cop cliches" taking down a "hundred-foot birthing mother". For another, during The Fetid Waters, Isaac asks G why they're immune to whatever it is that's creating all the mutants and nobody else is. They aren't; the compound has a short life-span and, as they weren't exposed to the initial dosing, they simply haven't been infected - G because he only got into town afterward, Isaac because he was at his mom's.
  • The Determinator: Death in 3. He will suddenly pop out of the ground and keep running after you for the first and second levels before finally dying.
  • Disney Villain Death: The Hanged Man from the first game. Twice. Also Caleb Goldman in 2.
  • Disposable Woman: Varla Guns in Overkill. The trope is lampshaded and discussed by G at the end of the game.
    • 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.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him Papa Caesar is killed in the electric chair by Warden Darling, cheating Isaac out of his revenge. Candi also gets this in the PlayStation 3 version when a giant cleaver the boss was using drops from the rafters it had got caught on and slices off her arm. She winds up dying from blood loss.
  • Dual Boss: Judgement is composed by a small imp, Zeal (who resembles a tiny Hangedman) and Kuarl, a giant, axe wielding suit of armor. Also, the Lovers are a couple of mutated tarantulas.
    • The incoming behemoths at the end of Overkill's "Jailhouse Judgement" look to be this... and then they turn on each other, leaving only one (Brutus) to fight you.
  • Dual-Wielding: Many zombies use two hatchets or chainsaws. The Star dual-wields glowing daggers.
  • Dumb Blonde: Candi from the PlayStation 3 version of Overkill
  • Dynamic Difficulty: Playing with a second player makes the games MUCH harder. So if you don't want to die twice as often, don't play with a second player unless said player is just as competent as you.
    • Also, the better you play in a stage, the faster the boss will be. It's not very clear how it works, because sometimes he'll slow down when you fail to survive an attack. (It's most notable with the Magician, whose movement aura is a different color based on whether it's in "easy" or "hard" mode.)
  • Every Car Is a Pinto:

G: Tasteful ride.
Isaac: Don't disrespect my wheels! She's my pride and joy.
(Isaac's pride and joy then explodes for no reason)
G: (Beat) Mm, we'll take my car.[1]

  • Evilutionary Biologist: Both Goldman and Curien.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Yahtzee says this about House of the Dead: Overkill.
    • Narrator: Isaac Washington. Cross him, and he'll rip your balls off.
    • Isaac: I will rip your muthafuckin' balls off!
  • Fan Service: The opening credits to Overkill play over a live-action pole dance which has nothing to do with anything, possibly as an homage to Planet Terror.
  • Fat Bastard: Temperance and the Lobber.
  • Feed It a Bomb: Justice, the first boss of the fourth game, can be instantly defeated if you chuck a grenade in its mouth.
  • Final Exam Boss: The Emperor will turn his metal orbs into some of the previously killed bosses, and you can repel them by hitting their weak spots.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Overkill begins with Isaac sucker-punching G. Later in the game, after multiple others have asked G to just answer the damn question, Isaac crows "the 'G' stands for 'genocide', motherfucker!" Isn't that sweet?
  • 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 metamorphic.)
  • For Massive Damage: Weak points for bosses and headshots for normal zombies.
  • Gainaxing: Disturbingly applied with the Temperance boss.
  • Game Breaking Bug: Overkill has an irritating one in the Crawler boss fight, wherein the circle highlighting the boss's weak spot is marked too high on its arm, and trying to shoot there won't do anything. Shooting it in the same spot it said to on the other side will cancel its attack and deal damage.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck: Candi which she explains that she was taught "don't have anything nice to say don't say nothing at all". She took it literally as she swaps the word "nothing" for expletives.
  • Giant Space Flea From Nowhere: Magician's re-appearance in 2 has this written all over it.
    • The Crawler in Overkill is almost literally this.
  • Giant Spider: The Lovers are two huge tarantulas (a small male one atop a larger female). Also the Hermit in 1.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The AMS, which almost every protagonist and heroic supporting character works for. It's never explained precisely what they do.
  • Guns Akimbo: Isaac in Overkill has a habit of dual wielding his Desert Eagles AMS Magnums, and it's actually a requirement that you dual-wield Wiimotes for some gallery achievements. Not to mention that there's nothing stopping a player from sinking two credits into a machine and commandeering both guns.
    • Overkill goes a step further: one of the post-game bonuses is a "Dual Wield" option, wherein a single player plays, using two guns as normal, but instead of switching between the two using both at the same time. This includes shotguns, assault rifles, and even miniguns.
  • Hannibal Lecture: HotD 4 employs a heavy retcon to give Caleb "loyfe cycle" Goldman a lot more menace; the start of each chapter flashes back to the events of HOTD 2, showing Goldman quietly seething behind his desk about how mankind's arrogance and greed will doom the entire planet. The final level reveals he's actually been speaking to James Taylor and Gary Stewart, who have him at gunpoint.
    • The Wheel of Fate aka a resurrected Dr. Curien, the final boss of HOTD 3, attempts to give one of these, only to be silenced by a volley of shotgun blasts.
    • In HOTD 2, the revived Magician gives one to James and Gary before the fight starts, again followed by their Shut UP, Hannibal speech after they beat the crap out of this Humanoid Abomination.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: James blows himself up along with Pandora's Box at the climax of 4's story, but did he really need to? May overlap somewhat with Stupid Sacrifice.
  • Hockey Mask and Chainsaw: Strength, of HOTD 2.
  • Hostage Spirit Link: In 1 and 2, shooting a civilian takes off one life. Overkill doesn't deduct health, but points. Averted in III, where shooting your partner in a rescue scene does nothing. 4 has no one for you to rescue.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: The belief of HOTD 2's Big Bad and his motive for bringing about a Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The typical appearance for the end bosses. Also The Star.
  • In the Blood: In House Of The Dead 3, Daniel struggles with this, but gets over it after blowing up the zombie-android resurrection of his father.
  • Infinity Plus One Gun: In Overkill, it's Isaac's favorite guns, the Gwendolyn. It has the power of the automatic shotgun, the range of the handgun, and it has INFINITE AMMO. Slightly mitigated by the fact that it doesn't have the crowd control of the shotgun, but why would you need it anyway? To get it, one must clear the "Classic Mode" where you're only allowed to use the default AMS Magnum.
  • Just Before the End: House of the Dead 4.
  • Kevlard: Temperance (a morbidly obese zombie) from House Of The Dead 4. Even though you could actually stop him from attacking you by shooting his head, it was impossible to do any real damage to him via your bullets. You had to drop a clock on his head to beat him.
    • Obese enemies in the second and third game also tank in more damage. A headshot was needed or they'd ram you.
    • The Overkill manual suggests that a zombie can take damage proportional to its body fat.
  • Kick the Dog: Papa Caesar is introduced as a bastard from the beginning, but the way he treats Jasper (who is almost totally paralyzed) is downright assholish. He whacks him in the face with his cane and warns him that continuing to insult him will jeopardize his sister Varla's safety before calling him a "fucking cabbage."
  • 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."

Narrator:" GGGOOOOREEGAAAAASMM!!"

Caesar: As you well know, Isaac, I enjoy pain. It's like a good Chinese dinner, you know, with the sweet and the sour. Expanding on that analogy, I will smile with delight (that's the sweet) as you scream for your fucking life (of course, that's the sour). *hits the Big Red Button* Ciao!

  • Ludicrous Gibs: In every game, but intentionally taken to ridiculous extremes in Overkill.
    • 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.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: The Screamer, of course.
  • Male Gaze: In Overkill, the camera lingered at Varla Gunns's cleavage before going back up to her face. Not to mention the live-action pole dance featured over the opening credits.
  • 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.
  • Man Behind the Man: Goldman and some shady G-man in the best ending you can get for HOTD 4; Warden Darling, for Papa Caesar in Overkill.
  • Marth Debuted in Smash Bros: Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing is the U.S debut of Zobio and Zobiko, as House of the Dead EX was only released in Japan.
  • Meaningful Name: Isaac Washington (at least to the player; Isaac's usually slightly irritated.)
  • Mercy Kill: Jasper in Overkill. Lampshaded through the entire scene in question, of course.
  • Monstrosity Equals Weakness: Almost every boss in any given game will be some form of mutant freak, but the final boss will look like a shiny humanoid. The exceptions are the original game's Magician and Overkill's Mother.
  • Mook Chivalry: Some zombies will wait until you kill the largest threat (like axe-wielding zeds or barrel-throwing fatties). Only one zombie can typically be in attacking range at once, so it's possible to disable one, quickly reload, then finish it off with the rest of the new clip used for the ones behin dit.
  • More Dakka: 4's default weapon is a machine pistol.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Justice is a huge, four-armed zombie brute who chases you around a sewer.
    • Nigel and Sebastian, by virtue of two people being conjoined together. Washington even yells for them to put all their arms up.
  • Multiple Endings: Every game has a few: one which is canon, a few which aren't, and one which is possibly canon but also extremely confusing.
  • Nintendo Hard: By far one of the most difficult Light Gun Games around. Many a player has witnessed the second game's continue screen no less than 10 times in a single run.
    • In the actual arcade stands, at least. The PC versions are easy with practice, since you can see where you're aiming and there are shot types in the first game (such as G's extremely powerful derringer).
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Isaac Washington is, for all intents and purposes, an Expy of Samuel L. Jackson.
  • No Export for You: House of the Dead EX was never released outside of Japan.
  • Noodle Incident: The first phase of the final boss fight in Overkill, which is skipped over in an alleged "missing reel". The dialogue immediately afterwards suggests that it would have been a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
    • Subverted in the Director's Cut of the Playstation 3 version where they reveal that they did find the miniguns and fought Mother by destroying pillars. It was definitely a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • Not Using the Z Word: "They're mutants!"

Isaac: I hate those motherfuckin' zombies!
G: "Mutants. How many times to I have to tell you to not use the Z word?"

    • More seriously, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing uses "creatures" instead of "zombies".
  • Oh Crap: Wonderfully and suddenly averted (from the player's perspective) at least once in Overkill: during the boss intro of Jailhouse Judgement, Warden Darling unveils two super-size reanimated convicts, explaining that they'd had many violent and horrific crimes to their credit before being electrocuted. They approach Agent G and Isaac, about to messily tear into the cops one-on-one... ...and then Brutus sucker-punches and head-stomps his partner, leaving only one boss for the player to defeat!
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Goldman. His boss creations fit more, though.
  • One-Letter Name: Agent G.
    • Lampshaded in Overkill all the damn time.
    • "You ever gonna tell anyone what the fuckin' G stands for?" "...No."
    • Isaac walks right through that open door when he once calls his partner "Agent Gwendolyn", and later on in Overkill, he is quoted as saying "The G stands for 'Genocide', Motherfucker!". See Fire-Forged Friends above for the touching endcap to this Running Gag.
  • One-Winged Angel: Wheel of Fate/Curien in HOTD 3.
    • The Emperor of HOTD 2 and The World in HOTD 4.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: In Overkill, at least.

Agent G: "Mutants. How many times do I have to tell you not to use the Z-word?"'

  • Parental Incest: Warden Darling almost definitely had this relationship with his mother, transplanting her brain into the body of Varla Gunns and making out with her. In the end, after the main characters kill the giant mutant version of his mother, he insists on returning to the womb in order to undo his wrongs. Agent G then notes the irony of Washington referring to everyone and everything as "motherfucker" except for Darling, which he translates into Washington not meaning anything he says, and therefore actually liking G as a friend.
  • Post Modernism: In the ending of Overkill, the characters discuss the symbolism of their adventure, a Mythology Gag regarding the fact that zombie media often has some sort of symbolism regarding culture, politics, or some such.
  • Promotion to Parent: Varla raised Jasper after their parents died.
  • Raising the Steaks: This series has undead fauna all over the place: bats, owls, spiders, sloths, leeches, crows. The first game even featured winged zombie dobermans.
  • Revenge: Rogan and Isaac's driving motives in the first game and Overkill, respectively. The second chapter of The House of the Dead, after Sophie's death, is titled "Revenge."
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Overkill lets you buy a Hand Cannon that comes with its Firepower maxed out, which equates to everything that isn't a boss dying in one shot. A tad subverted - you need to be really fucking accurate with it. The automatic shotgun is better at chaining combos and ammo capacity.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Varla tries to go on one in Overkill... but miserably fails. Twice.
  • Sand Worm: The Tower is a roaring, five-headed worm-dragon-snake-hydra-thing. After you kill four of his heads, the main one will slither away to the next arena, where you'll have to finish him off. Depending on the path you took, the arena could even be a large sand pit that he burrows through.
  • Scenery Gorn: Kate and James get a very nice view of the ruined city at the end of 4's fourth chapter.
  • Secret Character: Sophie and a female researcher could be used in the original game's Saturn mode if a code was used.
  • Sequel Difficulty Drop: Overkill. Largely due to the ability to upgrade and switch weapons.
  • Sequel Hook: The ending of Overkill establishes that, at the very least, Bayou is not even close to mutant-free. And the poster for the last level says "They're just getting started."
    • Justified Trope, at least in a strict chronological sense: Overkill is a prequel.
    • Not only that, the tape which Caesar leaves to motherfucking Washington says...

Caesar: You know of Clement Darling, yes, the cretin prison warden? It was he who originally discovered the mutant compound in a secret lab beneath his prison. Clement's ambitions are small minded, Isaac. But he has friends, powerful friends. (Curien and Goldman, if you haven't guessed it yet.)

James: Is that all you have to say, Goldman?

    • Lisa Rogan and Daniel Curien, son of the infamous doctor delivers her own retort to the final boss of HOTD 3, punctuating it with a shotgun blast to the face.

Lisa: This is our future, we'll handle it ourselves.
Daniel: You're not my father!

  • Sir Swearsalot: Washington.
  • 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.
  • Sophisticated As Hell: After Cluster F Bombing his way into the Guinness Book of World Records, Washington manages this in Overkill's ending:

Washington: Frankly, Casanova, I'd be more worried about reading the last 24 hours as a damning fucking indictment of contemporary feminism.
G: Beg your pardon?
Washington: I just think two dick-wielding cop cliches taking down a hundred-foot birthing mother is a statement fairly limited in its interpretations.

  • Spiritual Successor: Vampire Night, a joint effort between Sega and Namco that utilized similar gameplay and boss encounters and was similarly goofy in terms of voice acting and translation. "It was the girl. She gave us the strength of that of a human."
  • Stylistic Suck: Overkill mocks the previous games' bad acting, running with it and turning it into a Grindhouse film.
    • Overkill itself is basically Planet Terror as a video game.
    • And, well... at least they have acting. Unlike Goldman.
  • Tarot Motifs: Every boss in games 1 through 4 is named after a tarot card of the Major Arcana. As of the fourth game, only three Tarot cards have not had their names used: the Devil, the Moon, and the High Priestess. The bosses in OVERKILL don't follow this pattern—but they weren't developed by Curien or Goldman.
  • Tattooed Crook: Varla has a red, lipstick-kiss tattoo on her left breast.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Jasper, forced to work with Caesar when Varla, who raised him, is threatened, eventually declares that no one threatens his sister and injects himself with a serum.
  • Theme Naming: The bosses of the first four games are named after tarot cards.
  • The Stinger: Overkill ends its credits by playing the tape Caesar left for the protagonists at the beginning of The Fetid Waters, which reveals that "powerful friends" (presumably Curien and Goldman) have access to Clement's compound, and more surprisingly, that Washington's father isn't actually dead...
  • The Unintelligible: Goldman speaks in a language which is indistinguishable from English but is not English.
  • This Is Da Faynl Bawdl: Before the final boss in House of the Dead 2.
  • Title Drop: The last chapter in Overkill is appropriately titled "Overkill", with its intro detailing "Operation: Overkill".
    • The last chapter of the first game was titled "The House of the Dead".
  • Throw a Barrel At It: some fat zombies do this rather often.
  • Title of the Dead
  • Tomato Surprise: In EX, Zobiko, the female zombie protagonist, is actually the mad scientist's wife.
  • Tragic Monster: Jasper, per Transformation Trauma, and the Screamer, who's an unfortunate test subject used in Papa Caesar's experiments.
  • Transformation Trauma: The bad endings have Goldman or a character close to the protagonists turn into a zombie, who is usually promptly shot off screen.
    • Jasper turns himself into the first boss of Overkill by injecting himself with the virus. (Given that he starts the game as a quadriplegic, his status as a boss is justified by his new Psychic Powers.)
  • Turned Against Their Masters: The Magician in the first game.
  • Twenty Minutes Into the Future: The House of the Dead III is set in the year 2019; the first two games were simply set in Next Sunday AD. 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.
  • Unfortunate Names: Stick Brightling in Zombie Revenge. Just look at it!
  • Up to Eleven: The dials for audio settings in Overkill.
  • Varla Guns Has Her Brain Replaced With An Old Woman's And Her Body Mutated Into A Horrible Monstrosity
  • 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.
    • Ironically, in Overkill, Jasper is one of the bosses that takes the longest to take care of when first fighting him, due to the player's basic pistol not being as rapid-fire or strong as the other weapons and taking forever to knock away his debris forcefield.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Goldman believes his actions are for the good of the planet and will save the human race from itself.
    • Dr. Curien, however, went batshit insane after getting too obsessed with defeating death.
  • What Does He See in Her?: What Varla asks herself about her deceased brother Jasper and Candi.
  • 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.
  • Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?: Averted in Overkill. As soon as Clement reveals himself as the Big Bad, Isaac Washington immediately shoots him... only to discover that there's a pane of bulletproof glass between them.
    • Played straight at the start of Scream Train when all three protagonists have Cesaer right where they want him but their arguing over who gets to kill/arrest him allows him to get away. Issac does manage to nick his arm though.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Duh. Much more egregious in House of the Dead 3 - the world was overrun with zeds. And in Overkill, well, they're mutants.

Hee hee hee! Seems like my advice had no effect. Suffer like G did?

  • MUTHAFUCKA! IF I HATE ANYTHING MORE THAN MUTANTS, IT'S FLYING MUTANTS! SHOOT TA MAIM!

Notes

  1. And then his car explodes at the end of the next chapter as well.