With its mansion of zombies, House of the Dead is a distinctly un-Sega property at first glance, but that magic is never far from the surface. The twist is in removing the one-shot kill of Virtua Cop in favour of a more trigger-happy approach to blowing limbs off zombies, at once repulsive and satisfying. A steady hand can take the head from a monster’s shoulders, but when they start shambling towards you, mouths sagging open, even the sharpest aim starts to waver.
Of the four games already released, only the shotgun-equipped third entry dips in standard, but the fourth instalment is my favourite. Spraying enemies with machine gun bullets seems more sensible than picking off limbs with a six-shooter, and the action events that require you to shake the weapon is a more intense upper-body workout than Wii Fit could ever muster. Yes, a lot of the enemies and particularly bosses are reworked from the original game, but when viewed as a riff on a game that’s around a dozen years old it’s more an homage than a lack of imagination.
With House of the Dead 2 & 3 achieving very good sales on Wii, the smart money is on more zombie-blasting antics before too long. Get to it, Sega!
PS: Shortly after I originally wrote this article offline, Sega announced House of the Dead Overkill on Wii. Hurrah!