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House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return

by Zachary Miller - April 3, 2008, 3:04 pm PDT
Total comments: 16


Umbrella Chronicles' ancestor returns from the grave.

The House of the Dead games are old. In fact, the original title penetrated our American arcade scene in 1996, which, ironically, was the year that Resident Evil took over our PlayStations. Two years later, Sega released The House of the Dead 2 in the arcades and later ported it to the Dreamcast, where it remains a system favorite. In 2002, House of the Dead 3 shambled into arcades, but because the American arcade scene had largely dissolved, the game was also ported to Xbox in 2003. Now, the latter two games have been compiled onto a single disk: House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return for Wii. The obvious light-gun potential of the Wii Remote helps make the game a whopping success, although there are instances when its arcade roots hold both games back from their true potential.

The House of the Dead plotline is laughably similar to that of Resident Evil’s, including the virtual duplication of some boss monsters and overall “biological weapon” theme. Just like the Mansion Incident, the zombies in The House of the Dead are accidental byproducts of a much more sinister experiment. At any rate, the comical storyline can’t get in the way of the pure fun which comes from shooting zombies in the head and watching chunks go flying in all directions.

For those of you who’ve never been to an arcade before (where, honestly, this series is a staple), House of the Dead is a basic rail shooter in which you’re given a pistol and shoot zombies as they come running toward you. Extra lives are earned by rescuing innocent civilians from the rampaging undead, and depending on how many zombies you’ve killed or people you’ve rescued, there are several branching paths in each individual level. Each level ends with an impressive boss fight which relies almost exclusively on pattern memorization and weak point spamming.

And it’s incredibly fun. I loved Umbrella Chronicles because it invoked The House of the Dead; this new package comes with all the goodies from the Xbox House 3 like Time Attack, while House 2 gets a boss rush and a unique “Original” mode featuring item collection (again, clearly inspired by the Resident Evil series (whoo!)). Whereas most of us didn’t have the excessive quarters to afford duel-wielding in the arcade, it’s entirely possible and outrageously satisfying on the Wii. Or, like old times, you can grab a friend and blow through the undead army together. This is a great multiplayer experience. What’s more, both players can calibrate the Wii Remotes in relation to where they’re sitting.

Unfortunately, Sega did nothing to hide the fact that this is an arcade game. “Player 1 (or 2) insert coin” flashes on the screen when somebody is dead or not playing. And it’s not like you can just insert that coin, either, because you only have so many lives (that is, quarters) until it’s Game Over. Eventually, you start earning Continues (more quarters) and extra lives which can be toggled in the options menu, but I much prefer the modern gaming approach, which has virtually phased out the concept of “lives” and “continues” and has implemented checkpoints and respawns. Maybe I’m just spoiled!

The package suffers from the exclusion of the original House of the Dead, although I suspect that it was not included specifically because it never received a proper console port in the past (the buggy Saturn version doesn’t count). Because the original game contains some important plot information, it would have been nice if Sega included collectable “files” like those in Umbrella Chronicles to further flesh out the story. As it stands, players unfamiliar with the franchise may be left in the dark regarding the plot.

While it’s disappointing that Sega didn’t include House of the Dead 4 in this package, House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return is a great value for the money. It’s a fantastic multiplayer game, and even if you’re just duel-wielding by your lonesome, blowing zombies apart is incredibly fun. If you liked Umbrella Chronicles (honestly, who didn’t?) or just like killing the undead in general, House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return is a must-buy. And if the storyline is that important to you, there’s always Wikipedia.


Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
7 6 9 7 7 8

They’ve held up very well, and being able to blow chunks off or out of the character models is still a great effect (really, how many game engines allow that?).


The dialogue is so terrible it’s funny, especially in House 2. The music has a sort of hurried, feverish sound to it, which fits with the overall pacing of the games. There are some really horrible voice actors, too—it’s like they pulled people off the street.


Point at the zombie and press B. Press 1 to skip cinema scenes. Can’t get much simpler! Calibrating your Wii Remote’s IR sensor won’t be necessary for most people, but will probably help on larger and smaller televisions. It’s a painless process and only takes about a minute, and I’m grateful that Sega thought to add it for those readers who are still living in the dorms with little 17” screens.


House of the Dead lacks the depth of Umbrella Chronicles, although that’s like blaming chimpanzees for not being able to walk upright yet. Grenades would have been nice, though.


Mastering the main games will actually take longer than you think, and the other game modes are surprisingly fun. Beating the main game unlocks new modes, so keep at it! After you’ve had your fill of solo zombie-killin’, House turns into a great multiplayer offering.


I love these games just because they’re so simple and entertaining. They’re even better on Wii (get a handgun attachment if you’re hardcore), and they’re a great value for the money. While I really wish that the original game were included in this compilation, the two games you get are fantastic.


  • Duel-wielding Wii Remotes
  • New game modes
  • The games still look and perform great
  • Could've used spawn points instead of "Game Over"
  • Original game not included
Review Page 2: Conclusion


ShyGuyApril 03, 2008

Wait, the graphics are a 7.0? Come now...

darknight06April 03, 2008

Spawn points?  C'mon now, a lot of the challenge of these games was to get good enough to be able to take it down with the least amount of credits possible, preferably one. 

animecyberratApril 03, 2008

I dropped more than enough quarters in the arcades Sega should just give me this game for free. I will be buying it first chance I get.

ShyGuyApril 03, 2008

I wonder if there will be a bundle of 1 and 4 if this sells well. Maybe 1 is planned for the VC? Or would it be Wiiware?

animecyberratApril 03, 2008

probably too large for either of those options so likely a remake.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusApril 04, 2008

Well considering this is only $20 right now at Game Crazy I'll probably go pick it up.

bhurakApril 04, 2008

Great Review!

You understand the game!  I've been disappointed with other press reviews that have given low marks to the game - primarily for being old!  I'm glad you could get beyond that and see the  entertainment available in this great package!

BTW, I'm enjoying the game and eagerly awaiting my Perfect Shots. (supposedly shipping soon!)

CericApril 04, 2008

I'm disappointed with the reviewer for saying I could get the full Backstory from Wikipedia... It is decidedly not definitative.


Good review though.

vuduApril 04, 2008

I'm disappointed with the reviewer for saying there's a story to begin with.  Who cares about the story? 


You get to shoot holes in fat zombies!

MorariApril 04, 2008


--Bureau of Internet Morality

CericApril 04, 2008

Quote from: vudu

I'm disappointed with the reviewer for saying there's a story to begin with.  Who cares about the story? 


You get to shoot holes in fat zombies!

So skinny ones are no fun?  Thats discrimination there Vudu :P

Quote from: Morari

I'm disappointed with the reviewer for not predicting this week's winning lottery number.

Well now that the disappointment has compiled we'll just have to starting getting fortune cookes with each review.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusApril 04, 2008

The dialog so should've been under pros, especially for HotD 2.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterApril 04, 2008

To me, the lack of HOTD 1 lowers the score down to 7.5. I know Sega said they didn't include it because it was extremely outdated, but 2 and 3 aren't looking so hot these days. They should have thrown it in for completion's sake.

animecyberratApril 05, 2008

If being out dated is their logic how do they explain Wonder Boy for SMS going to VC after being available in other forms already. It makes more sense they are either going to try and do something else with 1, like release it as a VC or maybe WiiWare release if the file size isn't an issue, or they could be remaking the game as a stand alone title.

planetidiotApril 08, 2008

I keep hearing how good the Nyko gun is with this.  Anyone confirm/deny?  Also where the heck do you buy it?

UltimatePartyBearApril 08, 2008

Quote from: planetidiot

I keep hearing how good the Nyko gun is with this.  Anyone confirm/deny?  Also where the heck do you buy it?

I ordered the Nyko Perfect Shot months ago on Amazon, and only got the shipping notice this morning.  Either they just got some and you should order now, or there's a loooong waiting list.

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Genre Shooter
Developer Sega
Players1 - 2

Worldwide Releases

na: House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return
Release Mar 11, 2008
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