It’s no secret that I enjoy light gun games and House of the Dead 4 is one of the best. House of the Dead 4 Special is even better. The game begins with a ride in the line waiting ride. My anticipation rises as two more people file into one of the three closet sized rooms running the game. Just a few more minutes and I’m going to be playing it. A defeated couple walks out of one of the machines and I’m up.
I enter a tiny room and see a seat that looks like a circular bumper car. I get in, put on my seat belt and the attendant drops a bar locking me into place. I’m handed a toy red machine gun, the same gun the North American House of the Dead 4, and she tells me about the action button in the middle. There isn’t any gun shaking in House of the Dead 4. Instead you mash the yellow button in the center when a zombie grabs you.
The game starts with Kate, the female character from the House of the Dead 4, alone with zombies rapidly approaching. I squeeze the trigger and mow them down until I’m out of bullets. When you need to reload you don’t have to cock the gun back or shoot off screen. You just let go of the trigger and like magic you have a new clip.
All of the sudden I hear “behind you!” from one of the speakers and the seat spins around 180 degrees to another screen where a zombie grabs hold of me. I pound on the action button to remove its grasp and spray it with bullets. After the zombies vanish, G, the agent from the three other House of the Dead games, appears to lend Kate a hand. The storyline is notably different from House of the Dead 4. Also everyone is speaking English with Japanese subtitles. No time to worry about the plot though because more zombies are approaching. G and Kate hop in to a car similar to the fifth level in the arcade version. A car of zombies swerves forward with a hulking zombie throwing a barrel. I focus on the zombies and then shoot the barrel as it propels forward. Out of nowhere a truck swerves into my path. A timer appears on the top of the screen and I have ten seconds to shoot the zombie driving a truck through a glass window. I break through the glass, but the bumper car twists me into a new angle. I miss the zombie, get hit and a gust of cold air blasts me from behind. I lose some life from the shared life bar, but keep going.
The team parks the car underground and an explosion of compressed air hits me. The ride spins me around to reveal the first boss, Justice, the first boss from House of the Dead 4. He slowly walks forward with an almost identical attack pattern. You just need to shoot his tongue to cancel out his attacks. Instead of using the machine gun, I use the same strategy from the arcade game, timed grenade throws. Three explosions later, I’m halfway through the game.
G and Kate make it into a lab full of zombies. The corridors are narrow instead of the wide open area from the first level. Since there is less distance between you and the waves of zombies it’s much easier to get hit. Unlike the first level there are not any alternate routes to take. It’s a straight shot through the lab blasting stronger zombies that dress like chauffeurs. I’m glad that I have three new grenades because these were a lifesaver against large groups of zombies.
I get up to the boss and it’s the Magician from first game! In his first attack he summons a fireball to shoot. Then he darts around the screen in a hard to hit pattern before lunging forward swiping his claw. I get hit and I’m low on life. Grenades are nearly useless here since the Magician weaves too fast. The only way to beat him is to carefully track his movements and keep firing. Just when I think I figure the pattern out the machine spins me around and the magician attacks from the other screen. I get hit again and the life bar starts blinking. One more hit and it’s over. I damage the magician again, the ride turns me to the front screen and he changes his pattern. But before I can adjust to it, the Magician hits me and the adrenaline pumping ride ends, 98% complete.