I don't think I've seen anything more bizarre in my life...but I sure as hell liked it!
Usually it's a known fact that if a company is going to create a spin-off of a beloved series, something terrible always happens and the end result is nothing more than a stinking pile of dog poo. Thankfully, that didn't happen here. Sega's spin-off of the House of the Dead series, The Typing of the Dead, is just as fun as HOTD, even though instead of pounding the trigger of a plastic light gun, you're banging away on a keyboard, hoping those zombies don't decide to feast on your brains. But how does it stack up to The House of the Dead? Let's find out.
First off, TOTD is a spin-off of HOTD2, and actually IS the same game in essence. So I'll describe quickly: the action in HOTD2 is a lot faster and more frantic than HOTD1, with more hostages to rescue and better items you can grab (zombie tranquilizers, zombie steroids, bombs, etc...), as well as often smarter opponents and of course, huge, powerful bosses. But with all these enemies, how are you going to defeat them? Type words out! As each enemy appears, a word or phrase appears on top of them, and you have to completely type out that word or phrase as quickly as possible, and with as few mistakes as possible. The bosses, however, are much more powerful, and also have long sentences or even paragraphs to type in order to destroy them. That said, if you're not exactly a typing person, you may have severe trouble playing the game. But hey...sure as hell beats having to play "Mario Teaches Typing", eh?
The game's graphics, sounds, and music? The graphics are excellent, looking exactly like its arcade counterpart (but that's expected; after all, the arcade version is running on Naomi hardware, which is the same chipset as the Dreamcast), and there's no slowdown or breakup of the graphics. The sounds are appropriate: zombie moans, loud thwacks from an axe slamming into your skull, glass shattering, and your keyboard letting out gunshots with every letter you type! The music is also well done, although it's not exactly what I'd call "listen in the car" music. Big deal, though.
Also, added to the Dreamcast version of TOTD is a Typing Tutorial mode, which is excellent and really does help you get into the feel of typing. You also get a Boss Attack mode (fight the bosses), and an Original mode (the Arcade mode with new items you can use).
One thing that kinda bugged me was that the voice actors and writing are incredibly cheesy, but that's probably done to give the game a little B-movie feel.
I should also add that you really have to know how to type in order to play this game, otherwise you'll never get anywhere in the game. Thankfully, there's the Typing Tutorial mode in the game to help you hone your typing skills.
The Bottom Line
If you're looking for an oddball alternative to House of the Dead 2 (that or you can't get a Dreamcast light gun), The Typing of the Dead is a hell of a choice for your Dreamcast library!
I'll end this review with an excerpt from my favorite boss fight in this game:
Jack and Jill went up the hill to settle a dispute. Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill got 5 years for assault. Try typing that while a giant undead gladiator is chasing you through a labyrinth!