‘The House of the Dead 2’ is a game that sticks out in my memory for a number of reasons;
- It was the first game my Dad bought for me that was a) unprompted and b) not my birthday or Christmas.
- It was the first game that my Dad played with me religiously for months after release.
- It was the only time that my Dad went out and purchased an extra peripheral to play.
I remember when I found my Dreamcast on Christmas Day. My Dad took a real interest in it, coming upstairs with me, helping me set it up and watching me play my way through ‘Sonic Adventure’. This was the only console he took an interest in; well beyond that first day anyway. I’m not really sure what it was about the Dreamcast that he liked so much, perhaps it was all those days in arcades with us playing games, or perhaps SEGA just captured his imagination.
I’ll never forget the look on his face when he came home from work one morning (he was a night shift taxi driver) and produced a boxed Dreamcast blaster and a copy of ‘THe House of the Dead 2’ – he also had simple instructions; “make us a cuppa and I’ll fire up the SEGA”, he always called it a SEGA.It was here that he was hooked.
That first playthrough; well until the second boss “Heirophant’ – the laughter from both of us as he listened to the awkward and cheesy dialogue, especially the sheer joy at the line “No, don’t come”! There was enough in this game to ensure that another playthrough happened straight after our failed attempt at level 2. Before we knew it, we’d been playing non-stop for nearly 4 hours – rotating use of the blaster after every run!
When we realised that we’d spent the best part of the day playing a game, we decided to call it a day and turn the Dreamcast off. We had some dinner, moved the Dreamcast into the living room (home of the massive 32″ TV) and played a few more rounds; Mum had to intervene and tell us to turn it off. We did.
This became the daily routine for at least a month, each day the race for the blaster became more real, as we learned patterns we became quicker at each level but the controller was frustrating and slow; this meant the player who commanded the blaster, commanded the high score! My Dad and I are competitive people and this was unacceptable! Soon we submitted to the need for a second blaster.
I wasn’t expecting Dad to walk in with an unofficial blaster unannounced though!
Why the Mad Katz? Well the Dreamcast was never popular in Ireland and GAME stores (and Electronics Boutique) quickly stopped stocking the peripherals and games, this made finding official stuff incredibly difficult and expensive. If you saw a Dreamcast peripheral you were looking, regardless of authenticity, you bought it! While this gun felt much lighter and had a shorter barrel with no sight, it was a great gun.
Suddenly my Dad and my scores were much closer and those zombies were getting what for, it was here that we finally completed the game. The quicker aiming and muscle memory made us veritable HOTD experts; we’d even learned the locations of hidden items and as we replayed the game our completion time kept falling and our scores kept climbing…
…until we seemingly perfected our run. The score was a steady number (with maybe 5% difference per playthrough) and we grew a little bored of the game; it was here we went into “Original mode” and tried to unlock every item in the game, we did!
Finally we moved into the “boss mode” which was a boss gauntlet of sorts, you were timed on each boss and we owned this mode, and it was brilliant fun, this was probably my favourite mode to be honest. It condensed the challenge of the game into quick bursts and kept the freshness of the title alive for longer. WE’d seen everything this game had to offer and soon we weren’t playing for as long.
Over the years our playtime dropped and it was a sad day when my Dad and I played our last run of the game in 2001. We knew that this game had given us some amazing memories and we’d never forget them but there is only so many times you can run through the six stages and bosses before it becomes boring. We tried to recapture this magic with ”Confidential Mission’ and while it was a great light-gun game it wasn’t the same, the voice acting wasn’t as funny and the game wasn’t as good.
It’s games like this that make me yearn for a CRT TV, to have one more go the way SEGA intended this game to be played and I know my Dad feels the same. When I called up to my Mum’s house for my Dreamcast, Dad asked if we could play a game of ‘The House of the Dead’ – when I told him that light guns do not work with LCD TVs he was disappointed; but we’ll always have 1998.