The House of the Dead/Burning Rangers Taikenban Double Pack

Original Title
ザ・ハウス・オブ・ザ・デッド 体験版 
バーニングレンジャー 体験版
Tantalus/Sonic Team
Official Website
Information about this set is rather hard to find – I can’t find anywhere that gives even a vague release date or a distribution method, so while both discs have “Not for sale” printed on them I have no idea if this set was for store use, preorder incentives (in a “Preorder Burning Rangers and play it now!” sort of way) or simply attached to magazines. The House of the Dead Taikenban (“Taikenban” meaning “Trial version”) was made available on at least two other occassions – one in identical packaging and one in a bundle with Virtua Cop 1 & 2, and Burning Rangers appears to have had an identical individual release as well as a Japanese magazine release too.
The House of the Dead trial has a two minute time limit, assuming you don’t die before the time is up (there are no continues). This time limit does pause during HOLD YOUR FIRE scenes and doesn’t start until the player is able to shoot for the first time. The options screen is accessible from the title screen but is completely unchangeable, it’s not even possible to highlight anything in the menu.
As the game is an arcade port there are no real structural differences between this trial version and the final release, but textures are notably worse all round and some, like Rogan’s jacket and the biting worm-like creatures, are completely the wrong colour. The chapter card is a single static image rather than animated as it is in the arcade/final version of the game.
Once the game is over (either by dying or by time running out) a “Coming Soon” screen is displayed giving the release date as the 12th of March, however the game didn’t actually release in Japan until the 26th.
Burning Rangers has fewer significant differences in the playable portion of the trial, but quite a few elsewhere. The trial itself is very similar to the final game, although you can only play as Shou and it stops just as you reach the elevator to the lower levels. The only real changes are the lack of crystals in that cutscene (making it look like you can potentially teleport people crystal-free), the track “Darkness” isn’t present on the disc meaning that when the lights go out during the mission no music plays and lastly it isn’t possible to call Chris over the radio at any time, although she still gives the standard unprompted directions during play.
The opening FMV is still present, but a little altered from the final release – after a few seconds it plays within a border with various advertising messages across it – some about the gameplay (promoting the navigation/rescue, etc aspects) and others about the staff and the voice actors.
If the game is left idle the game with go through four different real-time demos, the interesting thing about them is that they all feature areas that aren’t accessible to play. The first is of Shou at the start of mission 3, the second shows Tillis fighting the boss of mission 1, then there’s two demos in different areas of mission 2 – one for Big and one for Lead (or Reed, if you prefer).
A look around the disc on a PC reveals a lot of voice clips that have no business being on a trial disc, including some of Iria’s navigation prompts for the final mission. The trial also uses redbook audio for the music tracks (just four in total), including a shortened version of “I Just Smile” which goes completely unused. The omake (bonus) folder is still included and has different content compared to the retail release. There are two wallpapers available in full colour and a reduced 256 colour palette, both of which aren’t present on the final game (you can see them here and here) and the wav folder only has a few samples.