(This review is based on a PC emulator program of the original Sega Dreamcast version. I paid for my illegal actions through weeks of a virus-infested computer)
If there are 50000 educational games in existence, than at least two are enjoyable- one being Oregon Trail (ah, the glories of seventh grade history class), and the other being this game. Typing of the Dead (TotD) is a typing-practice system based on the graphics and gameplay of the great House of the Dead 2.
For people who have been under a rock for the last twenty-five years, the House of the Dead is a light-gun rail shooter found in arcades throughout the land. Despite being phased out, the newest re-boots (HotD 3 and 4) can be found on the Nintendo Wii of all systems, showing that interest hasn’t completely waned. The gameplay functions as follows- you and a friend fire at zombies and other mutated abominations, attempting to save civilians and make it through unscathed to the boss at the end of the stage. Well, with ToTD, things aren’t much different. The game is a carbon-copy of HoTD 2, except the firearms have been replaced in the cut-scenes with keyboards and Ghostbusters-esque battery-packs labeled ‘Dreamcast’. To take out enemies, you must simply type the words that appear on the screen. Smaller zombies require short words and phrases, such as ‘salmon roe’, ‘FBI’, or ‘daffodil’. Stronger enemies and boss fights vary slightly, sometimes forcing you to type the answer to a question or type a phrase in a small frame of time. However, once you start typing a phrase you can’t stop until it’s finished, which can be a major problem. For example, two zombies may appear who throw axes. While in the middle of one phrase, the second zombie throws an axe at you. Although it only takes one letter, like ‘v’ to deflect it, you can’t avoid being hit since you are in the middle of the aforementioned zombie. This problem unfortunately comes up multiple times in a level, making you wish you could drop the keyboard and grab the .38 caliber….Also, since you are so focused on self-preservation; you ruin your total score by adding extraneous letters to the phrase you started, hoping in vain to deflect the axe.
All in all this game is an enjoyable novelty, but the effect wears off within a few sessions of play. Fans of HotD, especially the second, may enjoy the nostalgia of seeing it again, but they’ll quickly wish they were standing knee-deep in candy wrappers and discarded chewing gum next to their buddy, eyes glazed over, staring at the arcade box. The graphics function almost worse than before, anybody who has seen them will know that is probably hard to do. Obviously this game was made during the awkward transition between 2D and 3D. In conclusion this game is good for more than a laugh; in all seriousness it is a very useful typing tool. It features a tutorial mode and four difficulty settings, as well as a “drill” mode. In my opinion, they should have removed the blood and gore and marketed this to schools for 7-10th grade keyboarding classes…just imagine the possibilities…However, they didn’t, so this is going to be kept in the depths of the internet until the next curious 90’s gaming aficionado downloads an emulator.