Review: The House of the Dead: Overkill (Wii)


System: Wii Exclusive
Developer: Headstrong Games
Publisher: Sega
Genre: Arcade Shooter


Overkill is the newest entry in the famous House of the Dead light-gun arcade games and the second House of the Dead game to grace Nintendo’s little white box. The first was House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return, a retread of, you guessed it, the second and third games in the series on one disc. Overkill is an all new offering from a new developer with a new style and attitude. But how does it stack up against its legendary arcade predecessors?


In The House of the Dead: Overkill you play as Secret Agent ‘G’ with his new partner Detective Isaac Washington in a quest to find and apprehend whoever is responsible for turning the residents of Bayou City into flesh eating zomb — erm… mutants and keep the pandemic from spreading throughout the world. Along the way you meet Varla Guns, a hot, huge breasted stripper who is sister to Jasper Guns, a brilliant, crippled scientist who mutates himself and becomes one of the many bosses in the game.

houseofthedeadoverkillAfter playing through several awesome stages you’ll eventually catch up with Papa Cesar, the man credited with the viral outbreak and the one Agent Washington blames for the death of his father. That takes us far enough into the story and I’m not going to tell you anymore in fear of spoiling something. I will say that the ending will make you sick to your stomach with disgusting awesome. It’s really disgusting, then awesome, then disgustingly awesome, then awesomely disgusting, then you puke. Awesome.

But even though the games awesome Grindhouse-inspired story is one of the major selling points in the game, games are all about one thing. Are they fun? The answer for Overkill is really simple: Hell yes. Overkill is the funnest, most well-executed light-gun game I’ve yet played on the Wii, beating out even Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles. Rather easily, in fact.

The controls are tight with quick IR response, perfectly calibrated for light-gun gaming. The ‘B’ button shoots, reloading is handled by either shaking the Wiimote or pressing the ‘A’ button, ‘C’ throws your grenades, and ‘Z’ switches your gun. Every five kills you get in succession without missing it getting damaged grants you a higher score multiplier. You could also use the Wii Zapper, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

The game only features 3 main modes of play which include Story Mode, Director’s Cut, and Mini Games. While that doesn’t seem like a whole lot, each mode has plenty of fun to offer.

Story Mode has 7 chapters to blast through, each acting as their own little grindhouse film. The chapters consist of Papa’s Palace of Pain, Ballistic Trauma, Carny, Scream Train, Fetid Waters, Jailhouse Judgement, and Overkill. Each chapter can be, once completed, replayed with Extra Mutants for additional challenge which adds replay value on top of the assload of collectible items in the game. My only real complaint with the Story Mode, other than the fact that it’s relatively short, is how disappointingly easy the boss fights are. While they are almost always creatively designed, they can often be beaten while taking little if any damage at all.

Once the Story Mode is complete you can move on to the Director’s Cut, which is composed of the same 7 chapters as Story Mode in an “Un-cut” format. Levels are longer with more scenes and playtime. You can’t add extra mutants in this mode, but you won’t likely need them. Longer levels make the game harder anyway, and you also lose the ability to continue where you left off simply by sacrificing half your points and instead have only 3 lives to spare. There’s also tons of extras you can only unlock by playing through in the Director’s Cut. For instance, my personal favorite unlockable is the song “One Night in the Bayou” performed by The Brothel Creepers. You can unlock the track in Story Mode but it isn’t the album cut so you miss out on a lot of the hilarity. I’ll talk more about this when I get to audio. Both Story Mode and Director’s Cut can be experienced with 2 players.

overkill boxartThe Mini Games mode also really adds to the value of the game. Though there are only 3 available, they are all fun and addictive making it easy to sink several extra hours into the game. These 3 minigames include Money Shot II, Stayin’ Alive, and Victim Support. Money Shot II is basically a target shooting game at a carnival, Stayin’ Alive has you blasting through wave after wave of zombies, and Victim Support has you perched way up high shooting mutants while protecting innocent civilians whilst they try to escape. All 3 games have basic “get the high score to win” objectives and feature support for up to 4 players.

As for visuals, Overkill definitely relies on style but doesn’t leave polished visuals behind. The most impressive part of the graphics is definitely the gritty, old-horror movie overlay on the camera which adds to the game’s amazing Grindhouse feel. The visuals them self are pretty good in game which awesome lighting effects and detailed enemies and locales but features some blurry textures and only a handful of different zombies to blast. You’ll definitely notice the small variety of mutants, but it’s nothing too serious.

The game also has a bit of a problem with short frame drops when everything gets too hectic on screen or when the game tries to load graphics on the run. It happens rather often but it’s nothing that’s going to ruin the game. And my biggest gripe about the games visuals is the cut scenes. Lip syncing is way off and the scenes just look mundane. You’ll instantly forget about this when you start focusing on the game’s ridiculously grotesque and over-the-top Tarentino-like dialogue. I repeatedly found myself literally lolling (Yeah. I said lolling) at the hilarious conversation going on in the game.

Overkill’s audio is a real treat. In-game sound effects are all expertly done. Everything from the splat of a zombies head to something as simple as glass breaking is done perfectly. But where the sound design really shines is in the awesome soundtrack. I mean it’s really awesome. Very awesome. Super awesome. And as already stated, dialogue scripting is hilarious and extremely entertaining.

And I think I’ve already talked about the grand amount of entertainment value in this game. Collecting the sick amount of unlockable extras is addictive as meth, 2-player support in Story and DX as well as 4-player minigames make Overkill a blast to play with friends, adding extra mutants and the Director’s Cut itself give even more reason to replay each level multiple times. This game has a lot to love and it’s pretty easy to get your money’s worth out of it.


The Headstrong Games team

Final Words:

Combining brilliantly stylized design, a killer soundtrack, tons of unlockables, and fantastic replay value, Sega and Headstrong really do deliver what they’ve hyped up as being “the hardcore Wii fans have been waiting for.” This is one of the funnest games and the overall most awesome gaming experience I’ve had on the Wii. This game is badass. And you if think I’m just being biased because I love zombies more than most living humans, check out Superphillip’s review.


  • Super fun
  • Awesome grindhouse theme
  • Hilarious dialouge
  • Killer soundtrack
  • Brilliant style
  • Great multiplayer
  • Zombies


  • Bosses are too easy
  • No online leaderboards or multiplayer
  • The final scene might give you cancer from being so… ugh. Maybe that’s a good thing though


Overall: 9/10 (Superb)

Gameplay: 9.0/10 (Tight and responsive)
Graphics: 8.5/10 (Awesome style make up for some flaws)
Audio: 9.5/10 (Brilliant soundtrack and well-executed effects)
Entertainment Value: 9.0/10 (You’ll easily earn back your 50 bucks in fun alone)

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10 thoughts on “Review: The House of the Dead: Overkill (Wii)

  1. Your e-mail went “ding ding” in my program which means “you have an e-mail, Phil”.

    Very nice review. You made me excited about the game to want to play through it again! Now that I think of it, it probably would have been better to have Un-cut have your points divided in half and have the regular story missions have only three lives to live. I think that would have made the game more balanced in difficulty. I mean, really, not even in Director’s Cut did I die more than once in a stage, but losing half of my hard-earned points would have been more difficult to muster.

    On a different note, I don’t know why I can enthusiastically read through other peoples’ reviews, but I don’t have the will to read through my own. I think I’m just afraid of finding a spelling/grammatical error and having to fix it. Plus after writing for an hour to two hours, I don’t give a damn about reading through my review. I just want to post it by then. haha

    Regardless, there’s some typos you can hammer out, but the review’s great nonetheless. You have less mistakes than the enthusiast press (IGN, 1up, Gamespot), so you’re already better than them! 😉

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  3. Great review. I thought Overkill was great and I had a lot of fun with it. Currently I let a pal borrow it, but once I get it back you can be sure I’ll boot it up for more mutant-killing, highscore-beating euphoria.

    The story was great, disturbing, and excellent. What’d you think of the ending with Clements and all? It left me with a shocked face.

  4. @ Kyle:
    It was extremely awesome in a disgusting “wow I can’t believe they put that in there” kind of way.
    Yeah, I have the same problem, hence the few grammatical errors (thanks for the heads up, by the way. gonna get those now). Appreciate the kind words, by the way 😉

  5. Hey thanks a lot, ArcadeFan. Always good to see someone appreciates the hard work we put into it!

  6. This is really the best light gun game on the wii. I used to love umbrella chronicals but this is so, so, so much more fun. It’s easier and quicker and… MORE FUN!

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