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SummaryThis quirky and clever "Port" is a fun time waster
- Ingenious and clever idea
- Some of the stuff you type is inane and hilarious
- Boss fights are still challenging and get more creative down the road
- The quirky charm found in the awful acting and story is still intact
- Multiple difficulty modes and drills help shape less skilled typists
- Just as short as the original arcade game
- The alternate paths are harder to find
- No ability to change graphics settings means you are stuck in software mode
- You have to modify a file to get the blood working right
- Network mode is a hassle to set up and there is no other way to have two players
- You have to Ctrl+alt+Del to quit the game
The Bottom LineIf you've ever been to an arcade in the 90s, you've no doubt run into a House of the Dead cabinet. House of the Dead was arguably one of the best Arcade gun games, thanks to exciting gameplay and bad but hilarious acting and translation. The series has always had a strange and quirky charm about it. Being popular it was ported to home consoles and these ports were fine enough, assuming you owned the gun for your Saturn. The games simply aren't as fun without a gun.
Sadly, this truth is what ruined the DreamCast port of House of the Dead 2. Unfortunate timing meant that the port was released shortly after the Columbine Massacre, and I don't think anyone will argue that it probably wasn't the best time to release a gun - no matter how fake - into the market. This meant there was no gun and they removed compatibility with the Japanese gun, meaning you had to import both the Japanese gun and the Japanese version of the game to play it that way. Luckily though when porting the game to the PC Sega had an idea.
That idea evolved into The Typing of the Dead. It's an absolutely absurd idea but believe it or not... it works. The Typing of the Dead is an ingenious way of making a rail shooter fun without the gun, and is a wholly unique idea on its own. The game is a direct port of House of the Dead 2, the difference being that instead of guns you have keyboards. Instead of killing zombies with bullets, you kill them with words.
That's right. This is a typing tutor. If it weren't for the violence and gore, I'd encourage schools to use this. It would certainly be more fun than Mavis Beacon. The game has drills, which help you build your typing skills as well as give you some extra challenges and the game also has a boss mode which allows you to practice on bosses. Then of course there is the game itself which can be played one of two ways, "Original" or "Arcade."
They are more or less the same, but in Original mode you have an inventory of up to 5 items such as tranquilizers, Molotov cocktails, and sulfuric acid to help you along the way. Original mode also has a challenge at the end of each level that will award you up to 5 coins, if you successfully get all 5 coins you will unlock new challenges as well as bonuses like the ability to start with a few extra lives or carry a couple Molotov's from the get go.
Arcade mode doesn't have the inventory and all items are activated immediately, you also don't get coins or anything like that. You just try and get the highest score on each level and then enter your initials.
Blasting zombies with your keyboard is just as fun as it is with the gun, and it helps that some of the phrases they have you type are just as inane and bizarre as the terribly translated dialogue the game was already notorious for. The boss fights also get clever, the level 3 boss asks you questions and you have to type the correct answer or get bitten. The level 4 boss is my favourite. Really all you have to do is type his sentences, but his sentences are absolutely hilarious. He often likes to talk about things, be they ribald anecdotes about his girlfriend, his favourite restaurant, or even philosophical questions about life. Sadly I can't memorize all his lines, but trust me once you get to him you will be laughing too.
The games biggest flaws are its length, visuals, and some truly lazy programming. There is no ability to change graphics settings, so you are always locked at 640x480 with software graphics. Computers at the time were perfectly capable of making the game look like it did in the Arcade or the Dreamcast and an option would have been nice, since the game is heavily pixellated and looks more like it belongs in the year '96 rather than the year 2000. You also cannot quit the game without using Ctrl+Alt+Del. I know this is a silly argument, but there's also the issue with the blood. The game retains an M rating, it should give us blood. Instead zombies fall over into bubbling pools of nothing and while their corpses blow apart there is no detail. The blood IS in the game, and it IS supposed to be visible and there is an option for it in the menu; but unless you modify some game files you won't get blood. At least they let you pick your poison while you modify said files and let you have green goo zombies or ketchup red ones.
It's also a shame that you can't just plug in a second keyboard and play with a friend. In arcade mode a "Player 2: Press Enter" button always flickers, but it is only for effect. To be fair this came out before USB keyboards were common and computers very rarely came with two Keyboard ports and the Mice ports rarely seemed to recognize a secondary keyboard. You can play multiplayer, but you have to do it through Network mode and a second computer.
The length of the game is also crippling. To be fair, it is because the game was designed for arcades and as such was designed in a manner that you could beat the game in one go once you had a good aim and so that it wouldn't take a player forever to beat. However, this means that the game can be beaten in a mere hour and a half and for a PC game that is much too short. The various modes, alternating paths, and drills/boss modes help balance it out and there is no denying the game is fairly replayable whenever you need a good time waster, but it would've been nice if they had added a few levels. Hell, what would've really been cool is if they had The House of the Dead part 1 in the game as well. You'll have to make do with what you have though.
Typing of the Dead is good fun, and whether you are an elite typist or a newbie trying to get up to scratch, Typing of the Dead is a smart port of a good arcade game that also serves as a very entertaining typing tutor and the novelty and quirkiness of the concept is handled very well. You can download the game off of GameTap and I'm sure there are still copies lying around on the net. There is also a sequel, that is also a ton of fun, but sadly if you don't have a Japanese keyboard and knowledge of the Japanese language as I do, you are out of luck with #2.