The Typing of the Dead: Zombie Panic Hands-On

We use the power of words to kill zombies in Sega's latest PlayStation 2 type-a-thon.

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TOKYO--The Typing of the Dead: Zombie Panic is Sega's latest combination of zombie killing and typing bound for Japanese PS2s. The developer first discovered the merits of that winning combination some years ago, when it debuted The Typing of the Dead in arcades and on the Dreamcast console. The game's basic premise issimple: You use a keyboard to type in words that are tagged on the various undead creatures that would shamble toward you. Entering the word let you dispatch your undead foe just as handily as a few rounds of bullets. The quirky game ended up having an undeniable charm that led to a few similar games following its release, such as a Lupin the 3rd typing game and two based on the popular Neon Genesis Evangelion anime. With Typing of the Dead: Zombie Panic, Sega has seemingly come full circle. A work-in-progress version of the game was playable on the Tokyo Game Show floor and we took the opportunity to show some zombies that names--or, rather, words--really can hurt you.

The demo of the game featured three modes to choose from: arcade, minigame, and practice. The arcade game is the main single-player mode, although it's possible for two players to play through it cooperatively. The core of the arcade game appears to be the original Typing of the Dead game, which overlaid the aforementioned typing mechanic on the House of the Dead II game engine. The minigame mode appears to differ from the minigame-tyle modes in the original Typing of the Dead. The mechanics in Typing of the Dead: Zombie Panic haven't changed a bit from the original Typing of the Dead and still require a keyboard, though.

The graphics in the game seem uneven at the moment. On the one hand, the visuals are comparable to the original game in terms of quality, although there have been some updates--for example, the officers in the game now have white PlayStation 2 consoles strapped to their backs instead of Dreamcast consoles. However, the game's performance seems inconsistent, veering from speedy to chugging over the course of a few seconds. While that's a bit surprising, this isn't the final version of the game, so hopefully Sega will clean things up in time for release.

Despite its inconsistent graphical performance, The Typing of the Dead: Zombie Panic does still pack some considerable appeal, thanks to its wacky premise and its accessible gameplay. At the moment, the game is set for release only in Japan. For more updates, be sure to check GameSpot's coverage of Tokyo Game Show 2004.

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