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Vol. 2, Issue 12
February 15, 2000

Birth of a Gamer:

House of the Dead 2:
It's the Cheesiest!

by Heather "elki" Haselkorn



y exposure to horror movies began at a very early age. Remember that scene in The Shining (the Kubrick version) where that gross zombie woman comes out of the bathtub? That gave me nightmares for years. And the sight of blood on screen makes my stomach turn. But there is one type of horror movie that has never, ever scared me. And that, my friends, is the zombie movie. I laugh in the face of Night of the Living Dead, and also at any other cheap B-movie knockoff of it. And that extends to video game knockoffs of B movie knockoffs of good horror flicks.

The House of the Dead 2 for the Sega Dreamcast is just that...a video game version of a B movie. You can either play the game with a gun or with the controller. At first I decided to play with the gun. The drawback to playing with the gun was that it took a long time for me to be able to aim, but I got the hang of it eventually. And shooting off screen to reload actually makes it feel more, I don’t know, real, I guess.

As I expected, there isn’t much plot here. You are James, part of some type of law enforcement operation, or maybe some private zombie hunter ring. I don’t know because, frankly, I wasn’t paying much attention. All I know is that I couldn’t get over the fact that James looks like one of the Baldwin brothers. Alec, I think. As I played the game I began to realize that all the male characters looked like some variation of the Baldwin brothers. I’m not too sure about the female characters, though. There seemed to be enough of a difference in them so that I couldn’t narrow it down any actresses in particular.

So anyway, Alec, I mean James, has to go to the library to meet G (maybe short for G-man?). James pulls up in his car and to his surprise he is accosted by zombies. I guess he didn’t notice on his way to the library that the entire city was burning and all the citizens were undead. He enters the library, finds more zombies, and G, who speaks his dying words.

The boss for the first level has to be the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. A giant headless body comes at you with an axe while a purple gargoyle darts around the screen and flies at you. James thinks aloud here: Maybe that’s his brain! You know, there’s something to be said for leaving a game player to figure certain things out for herself. We’re not talking brain surgery here (excuse the pun). As if that’s not enough, you’re also given the boss’s weakness, so there’s absolutely no guesswork involved. In the second level you learn that the name of the bad guy is Goldman. If that doesn’t strike terror into the hearts of all humanity, I’m not surprised.

I got bored with single player, so I grabbed a bud and played multiplayer. We only had one gun and one controller, so we had to make do with that. The thing with the controller is, there’s actually a sight! Now there’s even less thinking to do: all you have to do is put the site on your target and fire! And there I am with my gun, with decent but not great aim. I got jealous, of course, and we switched. Now I had the site and I was doing worse than when I had the gun! I’d gotten so used to just aiming and shooting that I couldn’t control my aim with the controller. Oh, well.

Now here’s something about this game that I thought I’d hate but discovered I really liked. The game moves for you. You don’t actually have to make your way through the maze of the city to get to the boss at the end of the level. As you progress, the game scrolls for you, and you go in different directions depending on which people you save from zombies. Save the girl, go left. Accidentally shoot her, go right. Considering that I still get dizzy on occasion and sometimes have trouble walking and shooting simultaneously (a problem I face in real life as well), this is an amazing innovation! All I have to do is shoot. I can’t get lost no matter what I do! All I have to do is be on the lookout for zombies to kill and people to save.

Yes, the plot of The House of the Dead 2 is dumb. And yes, the acting is terrible. You don’t have to think at all to play this game. All you have to do is aim and shoot. You don’t have to figure out any puzzles. If you’re a brainless slob, you’ll love this game. Then again, if you’re tired after a long week of work and school, no longer have the brain capacity to solve puzzles and navigate mazes, and just want to play a game and relax, you’ll love this game. That was the case with me. Sure, it’s the dumbest game I’ve ever played, but it’s so stupid that I just had to enjoy it.

-Heather "elki" Haselkorn actually enjoys this.

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Credits: Illustration © 2000 Dan Zalkus. Birth of a Gamer is © 2000 Heather Haselkorn. All other content is © 2000 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited, you cartoonish villian, you.