The House of the Dead 4: Special is a horror-themed rail shooter developed by WOW Entertainment (formerly SEGA AM1) and released by Sega to arcades in 2005. The story takes place shortly after the events of The House of the Dead 4, following AMS agents Kate Green and G as they fight the creature infestation to its source.
The game was released to arcades as a two-player arcade attraction, featuring a spinning ride vehicle and special effects. It is included in the PlayStation 3 port of The House of the Dead 4 as an unlockable for completing the original game.
In 2003, AMS agent Kate Green wanders Point A0063 alone, acting on her promise to fallen partner James Taylor to keep fighting and never give up hope. She encounters agent G, who claims that the battle is not over. Together, Kate and G fight the undead outbreak to its source.
The agents drive to an unidentified building, killing a revived Justice in the parking garage. In the core of a secret laboratory, they discover a reawakened Magician. Recognizing and welcoming the AMS agents, Magician seeks revenge for the pain he has had to endure.
Upon defeat, Magician attempts to open Pandora's Box, which appears before him.
In this final scene, the player must aim and throw a grenade to destroy the box; success or failure determines the ending.
- "Good" ending: If the player succeeds, Pandora's Box is destroyed; Magician claims "Nothing can erase my pain..." before exploding. As they leave, G tells Kate that the fight is about to begin.
- Depending on the player's performance, a scene with Thornheart may follow. He appears where the Magician was fought, remarking: "So, Pandora's Box has been closed. That is, if there is any 'hope' left. The Wheel of Fate cannot be stopped." This alludes to the future events of The House of the Dead III.
- "Bad" ending: If the player fails, Magician activates several clones of himself. G says "Who's next?" The Magician laughs. The words "BAD END" appear on the screen.
In the arcade version, up to two players enter an enclosed room with the ride vehicle inside. The room is equipped with a surround sound system and two 100 XGA projectile screens: one in front of players and another behind them. After players sit down and buckle in, the attendant will lower the safety bar.
The ride vehicle can spin 360°, shake when creatures attack, and blast players with air whenever they take damage. It features holsters with two light guns, along with a large "action" button to use during escape sequences and an emergency stop button. Unlike The House of the Dead 4, the machine guns have recoil.
Gameplay is identical to The House of the Dead 4; players shoot enemies, bosses, and hidden bonus items in background objects. The differences are the following:
- Instead of lives, players share one large life bar. The game ends when it is emptied; and there are no continues.
- Rather than shaking the gun, players must escape enemies and bosses by repeatedly hitting the "escape" button on the control panel.
- At the end of the game, players are judged on how compatible they are based on performance alone. This mechanic was previously used in Sega's mounted gun game Let's Go Jungle (and returns in its sequel, Let's Go Island).
The Playstation 3 port of Special adds continues, replaces the life bar with traditional lives, and removes the compatibility mechanic.