The Typing of the Dead
Critic Reviews add missing review
Average score: 69% (based on 35 ratings)
Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 55 ratings with 5 reviews)
When I tried this game out I was surprised. It took me a couple of minutes to find out you had to use the keyboard to shoot the zombies. I really liked that on my first go. It is a fresh idea and it is kind of addictive. If you are familiar with the house of the dead 2 arcade game, it is just the same but with a twist. It is one of the most original games I have played over a decade and there also seem to be life span expanding options such as network play and boss battles so this will hold your attention for a while.
I asked my brother if he would like to have this game too, and he answered no. Why did he say that? Well, because there is no way to input the words of your own choice. You see, we are computer users since the early nineties and we are true typing prodigies. But when we look at the screen we see the most annoying sentences and in particular Latin and English ones that make us freeze for seconds and screw most of the shots. That sucks away a lot of fun as English is not our native language.
Maybe it is me, but TOTD doesn't run too smoothly on a modern PC. Why? Because the program is sensitive and needs a clean system memory to run on. So be prepared to kill all your windows activities such as internet browsers, your current downloads and virus scanners etc. Believe me, nothing is more frustrating when quick reaction is required, but you simply can't focus because the frame animation is disturbed by other windows activities.
What irritates me most is that there is no beginner mode for inexperienced typists. Sure you can switch the game's difficulty to very easy, but that doesn't give you more time to complete the sentences or more chances to recover from typing errors. No, this only makes the words a little shorter but it is still required to react quickly. I kind of hate it. How would you like this if I said to you it is not necessarily to play the guitar, but still you have to play a tune without making a fault and you had to play the melody in time? It is that stupid.
Another point is the annoying boss battles. Thankfully you can skip a lot of the worthless cutscenes, but not when you encounter a boss. When this gargoyle appears you cannot press away his monologue and this monster you will be fighting next takes so many moments of grunting animation that it is destroying it's replay value. It doesn't help either that you have to defeat them.. err...TWICE!
Another problem is that once you progress through the stages you can get exhausted. There are so many tough words on the normal setting and due to quick required typing I usually need to take a break after the third or fourth stage. You can play the game stages in a different order, but the last ones are locked so you need to play this game if a rush if you would to like to complete it. And why do you have to enter a name for a high score every time you complete a stage? It is so annoying, wouldn't it be good idea if they waited a little while and let you do this when the game is over? Here again I must conclude that the lack of a real easy mode damages some of it's replay value.
Things to keep in mind is that you need a good keyboard for this and second you need to configure your keyboard setting to US or UK because this game doesn't support EURO keyboards. There will be a lot of words that require the special keys in this game, and you are simply screwed if some special characters don't correspond to the your keys.
The Bottom Line
Despite all my complaining (hey somebody had to say it), this is a great game for all typing masters out there. Think you are good at typing? Then this game is definitely a challenge. In these days it is quite an original game so please be sure not to miss this. Also be aware that this is not meant to learn typing but only for those who already have typing skills.
Windows · by tante totti (14) · 2007
- 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 Line
If 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.
Windows · by Kaddy B. (777) · 2010
This game is hilarious. Basically, it's the same game as House Of The Dead II, except that instead of guns, our heroes are equipped with Dreamcast backpacks, giant Duracells, and chest-mounted keyboards. You are attacked by various undead horrors, and in order to kill them, you must rapidly type the words on the little signs on their chests! The horrible voice acting from HOTD2 actually becomes part of the comedy attraction here, while you furiously try to work your words-per-minute up, and typos can be deadly... Lots of little surprises; items that can be found include the Bighead mod and the Zombie Suit (which makes your character appear to be a zombie). NOT serious at all... but a great motivator for learning to type!
HOTD2 is an arcade port; it's basically a shooter on rails. You make very few decisions (although if you save certain people along your path, they will provide you with special items, or allow you to take a different path). But, since this is a typing tutor, not an adventure game, this hardly makes a difference.
The Bottom Line
This is a crummy PC port of an Arcade game that was once a Dreamcast game... or it's the funniest, goriest, most-fun typing tutor ever made. Take your pick.
Windows · by Dr.Bedlam (55) · 2002
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!
Dreamcast · by Satoshi Kunsai (2021) · 2001
Revisionism is a tricky thing. To claim what once happened never happened is a magic trick done in plain sight for everyone to see but with nothing to hide behind; it’s the equivalent of Penn and Teller doing their next magic show behind an x-ray machine. To pull off a trick so blatantly, so obviously, done without any semblance of guile… well, then everyone has no choice but to believe you. If you pull it off.
Staying firmly in the world of geek, George Lucas was an aspiring film maker who wanted to set an opera in outer space using cowboys. The result was Star Wars (1977) and nerds haven’t left their basements since. Lucas’ success was also one of total creative control over the Star Wars franchise; armed with 40% control over the marketing rights of Star Wars and the nuclear-powered Skywalker Ranch (with a Deathstar Deathray-proof bunker five miles below the surface—indeed, the ultimate basement), Lucas could do whatever he wanted.
Not satisfied with the visual look of his original trilogy, Lucas would continually make changes to these films while at the same time denying audiences access to the original work. Legally, Star Wars is his creative property to do with as he wished, much to the chagrin of fans everywhere. Lucas would add special effects that didn’t exist at the time, recut scenes, do anything he could to “preserve the original vision I had for the movie”. However, audiences are savvy, and sometimes unforgiving. While the second trilogy may have done very well in terms of sales, the three words that will follow Lucas to his grave is “Han shot first!”
This type of revisionism is common to games as well. Id released DOOM3 as a modern retelling of the classic tale; id would have us believe that this version of the DOOM story is the proper one and the original can all but be forgotten, as though they are embarrassed by the way the graphics look compared to today’s technology. As well, Team Ninja has released the Ninja Gaiden game several times over in different versions in recent years, touting tweaks and new features added to what is essentially the same game.
So it is with The Typing of the Dead. Released four years after the original and just a year after the sequel, this game is essentially the same game but with some very major differences. The original House of the Dead was a light gun game with which you would blast zombies; conversely, in the Typing of the Dead your lethal instrument of death is a keyboard attached to a Dreamcast with a giant “D” battery on top. At no time in the game is this literary BFG explained, nor is it explained why zombies are susceptible to simple phrases like “my foxy wife”.
This is a brilliant reworking of the “classic tale” for us post-modern cynics. The original House of the Dead was a campy gore fest of bad voice acting and nonsensical story. (Also, it had outright tasteless racism. The villain who is responsible for the zombies and all the deaths is none other than Goldman, the Jew!! It’s always the Jew, isn’t it? Does B‘nai Brith know about this?) The player is thrust into to role of the macho hero by wielding a powerful pink plastic light gun; this visceral experience of using in real life a gun replica to do away with your enemies can only be matched by the confirmation that everyone in the arcade must think you have a big penis to match the giant phallic symbol you hold in your hands.
While the original House of the Dead was a uber-hetero testosterone-filled macho experience, Typing of the Dead re-evaluates that experience for what it is: a campy shallow experience. But this is where Typing of the Dead transcends it’s limited origins to become the game it was meant to be. This game postulates that the game’s problem isn’t that it is campy, it’s not campy enough! The silliness of changing from a moody first person shooter to a typing tutor can be seen in the outlandish getup of the aforementioned Dreamcast backpack. Enemy weapons have been switched from knives and swords to spatulas and toilet plungers. This game never allows you to forget that you’re playing a parody, albeit one that you enjoy immensely.
Everyone loves zombies, because everyone enjoys killing zombies (says the preacher in Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive (1992) right before he opens the whoop-ass can: “I kick ass for the Lord!”). People do so because zombies by all rights have to be killed, as well as the fact they are so easy to be killed. That’s why it’s so natural to keep plugging away at the waves of undead, all the while fooled into thinking that touch typing is fun. This motivation to type is further encouraged by the very novel use of typing as weapon; every time a key is pressed correctly, a satisfying gunshot is thundered, while an incorrect press only enacts a limp high-pitched miss whistle.
The fact that most gamers are bad typists is very ironic. From reading other reviews I keep hearing how this game is tough; it’s not tough—you get “pwned” because you don’t have “teh mad skillz” required for this game. I’m not a great touch typist myself, but this game encourages me to further my skills. Typing of the Dead teaches a valuable life skill in a most amusing and enjoyable way.
Note: it was my house who Unicorn B Lynx came over to and to whom showed DOOM3 and Typing of the Dead. Typing of the Dead is a much better game. (it’s embarrassing to know I was once excited about DOOM3). It has a soul, a funny and frivolous one; DOOM3 has none; it’s that hot superstar blonde tennis player who never won a game and everyone has since forgotten her name: all style, no substance (well, as least for being a tennis player).
Sega, if you’re going to go all the way, go all the way. The lumberjack zombie still sports the chainsaw as he did in the original game. Frightening, yes, but not the camp fun the rest of the game provides. What about arming him with a singing fish, or put an embroidered pillow in his mitts? You’re the geniuses, you figure it out (wait, what happened with that console you put out a while back?)
The Typing of the Dead is a highly creative game that has universal praise every time it is mentioned, yet for some reason seems to have disappeared off the game radar (the Planescape: Torment syndrome—the better you are, the worse you will suffer). There aren’t any sequels or successors of any kind. What ever happened to… Ab-Crunches of the Dead: every sit-up explodes a zombies cranium into goo. Deleting Junk Mail of the Dead: using your mouse you fire bullet after bullet as you empty your mail. Or how about a cross-over: DDR of the Dead: using your floor dance pad you cut the rug of the undead, their demented cries wailing over the unrelenting disco beat.
I’m not kidding here: if you want little Johnny to do something, you won’t have to ask twice if there is decapitation and green blood. Brushing the Teeth of the Dead! Homework of the Dead! Taking Out the Trash of the Dead! I’d buy stock in Sega now if this was true. So what’s the hold up? Or are you waiting again for a good thing to slip through your fingers to tell you that you that you have a winning formula in your hands?
The Bottom Line
Destined for obscurity, this game could have been the one to influence other games to be much more than just a way to pass the time. As such, we can only be content with this gem encased in rotten stinking decaying zombie matter.
Windows · by lasttoblame (414) · 2007
Contributors to this Entry
Critic reviews added by Big John WV, ryanbus84, Wizo, Maner76, Alsy, CalaisianMindthief, Patrick Bregger, Ace of Sevens, Scaryfun, Ryan DiGiorgi, Paul Franzen, coenak, yellowshirt, Jeanne, Tim Janssen.