The House of the Dead is a 1996 arcade railshooter made by Sega that was ported to the Sega Saturn in 1998. To date, the Saturn version remains the only home port of the game, adding to its value. Currently, this version goes for around $180 for the disk alone. When complete in box, the game can reach the $250 range.
Dr. Roy Curien, a scientist and expert on the Human Genome Theory, has driven himself mad finding the link between life and death, allowing him to resurrect the dead. Releasing his creations on his own workers, AMS agents Thomas Rogan and G are sent to the Curien Mansion to stop the mad doctor's plans and rescue the hostages; Sophie Richards, fiance to Thomas Rogan, is among them.
The player (or players in multiplayer mode) must progress through four chapters while gunning down any zombies and other monstrosities in your path. The game requires the Sega Saturn's light gun, as it is a first-person railshooter. There are six bullets in the chamber and the player must fire offscreen to reload. There are many different types of zombies, from ax-wielders to fat zombies with chainsaws, to the more unusual demon dogs and mutant frogs. It is almost always best to shoot them in the head. The game gets progressively harder with each chapter. Depending on your score, there is a possibility of three different endings.The game focuses heavily on rescuing the employees at the Curien Mansion. It usually is nothing more than gunning down the zombies before they attack the people, but sometimes you must do some tricky shooting to avoid hitting innocents or shoot a bookcase to reveal a passage someone is trapped in. Rescuing people rewards you with bonus points and extra lives. Also, sometimes the employees you rescue will reward you with a hit point or reveal an alternate path.
At the end of each chapter, the player does battle with a boss character. To defeat them, you have to shoot the corresponding weak point. They are usually the most challenging parts of the game, with each fight becoming progressively more difficult.
The arcade version of The House of the Dead has been critically acclaimed by most and paved the way for three sequels in the series.
The Sega Saturn version is arguably inferior, as the frame rate had to be sacrificed to 20 frames per second in the port. However, on a positive note, this version of the game introduced new features, such as 'Boss Rush', where the player has to face the bosses in the game with the goal of getting a best time.