Video Game of the Day is a daily show available on Amazon Alexa devices and here on this website. Each day, we briefly discuss the history of a single game, randomly chosen. If you would like to listen on your daily flash briefing, you can enable Video Game of the Day here: https://amzn.to/2CNx2NJ.

Transcript:

Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day!

If you spent any time around arcades, whether dedicated arcades or those small ones in some restaurants and movie theatres, you’ve probably at least seen today’s game. While it was far from the first light gun game to hit arcades, something about its B-movie style caught on with fans who still quote some its choice lines today. Today’s game is House of the Dead, developed by Sega AM1 and released in arcades in 1996.

Like most light gun games, House of the Dead presents the world in first-person, with players taking on the role of one of two AMS agents who investigate after the main character, Thomas Rogan, receives a distress call from his fiancee in the Curien Mansion. What is an AMS agent? Nobody knows! They seem to be quite proficient at fighting zombies though, so that’s who we play as.

House of the Dead is all on-rails so players are not able to determine where they will go next, aside from certain pre-scripted events. There is no exploration, just a strong focus on shooting enemies that pop up on screen. If you haven’t played a light gun game before, they’re a bit like more cinematic shooting galleries. Players hold plastic guns attached to the machine which they then use to point and shoot at the zombies on screen. Shooting off of the screen will reload the gun. By shooting objects around the game world, the players can also find health pickups or power ups.

I mentioned before that pre-scripted events may allow players to determine where they go. These events aren’t frequent but occasionally, the player is faced with a situation where they can alter the path the game will take. For example, early in the game, a zombie is about to throw a hostage off of a bridge. If the zombie is defeated before the hostage is thrown over, the path of the game will change. This adds to the replay value, allowing players to see different areas over different playthroughs.

House of the Dead received positive reviews in arcades. The voice acting throughout the game is famously atrocious and many critics felt this overly terrible acting added to the B-movie charm. The plot is also intentionally ridiculous with goofy villains and dramatic sound design. The game received ports in 1998 for the PC and Sega Saturn. Historians would later write about how House of the Dead along with Resident Evil, both coming out around the same time, helped bring about a resurgence in zombie fiction worldwide. Horror film director George Romero has even credited these games as helping popularize his concept. House of the Dead has also been credited with popularizing the fast-moving zombie which directly inspired the creatures in the films 28 Days Later and the 2004 Dawn of the Dead.

Thank you so much for listening! If you aren’t following me on social media, come join the party! I’m on Twitter and Instagram @vg_oftheday and things have been pretty crazy the last couple weeks. I’ve started streaming on Twitch, restarted The Gaming Observer Podcast, and even have a few more secret projects in the works for the next few days so if you want to stay up to date on all that, follow me there to see all of our updates. Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for another Video Game of the Day!

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Devin "Katosepe" Sloane is a long time gamer and host of the show Video Game of the Day. He firmly believes Darklands is the pinnacle of gaming achievement and this is a hill he will die upon. Where his nickname came from is a secret to everybody.