Arcade Mania – The House of the Dead III (2002)

The House of the Dead III

With regards to Sega’s House of the Dead series, it’s usually the second one that people have fond memories of. Its old school lightgun gameplay combined with ugly late 90s graphics and voice acting so awful that I refuse to believe it’s accidental makes for a so-bad-it’s-great experience that sticks in the minds of just about anyone who’s played it. But as awesome as that game is, I personally find myself gravitating towards the sequel.

The House of the Dead III
Lisa and G get ready to take care of business.

The House of the Dead III picks up 19 years later in 2019, and canonically is the last game in the storyline (so far). It follows Thomas Rogan’s daughter Lisa and series veteran G as they infiltrate a twisted, towering genetics facility in a post-apocalyptic world. Together, they search for the missing Thomas, and ultimately bring an end to Curian’s forbidden experimentation.

But let’s face it: you don’t play this game for the story. You’re here to shoot some zombie-like creatures and other mutated monstrosities back into bubbling puddles of goop, and that’s exactly what you’re going to spend all your time doing. As a light gun game, the mechanics are very straightforward. But the skill involved not only relies on speed and accuracy, but also on the ability to prioritize threats on the fly. Your gun only holds six rounds before you need to reload, and accounting for the slight pause it takes to do so is essential to survival. This balance is the key to any great light gun game.

The House of the Dead III
That was a close one!

I have to admit, I never really played any House of the Dead games in the arcade. My experience is limited to the compilation on the Wii that includes both the second and third games. Part III is also available on the original Xbox as well as the PC.

And while The House of the Dead III never reaches the same levels of bad voice acting as its predecessor, there is still more than enough campy B-movie dialog to give it a personality all its own. Some of my favorites include, “I promised mom that I’d bring him home,” “When a lady says ‘no,’ she means it!” “You’re not my father!” and of course, “Hey, don’t touch me there!”

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