Typing of the Dead, The Download (2001 Educational Game)

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Typing of the Dead is essentially Sega's House of the Dead 2, a shooter released as an arcade game and then ported to the Dreamcast. Instead of shooting at zombies with a gun, though, you type them to death, which, in a strange way, makes the game more exciting than the original version. The typing gameplay draws out the tension missing in House of the Dead 2, especially when dealing with bosses. Your heart starts to pound as you desperately hunt for the last few keystrokes to complete a phrase before the boss comes near enough to kill you. In House of the Dead 2, tension takes a backseat since gameplay is literally a one shot, hit or miss, affair.

Boss meetings are more interesting because of the typing aspect. Usually boss encounters in gun shooters tend to be prolonged versions of battles with regular enemies. Bosses may move faster, hit harder, and take more punishment, but are eventually dispatched the same as any moving target. Here, defeating most bosses requires special methods, like typing away fireballs, or being able to use keystrokes only when the boss is vulnerable. To damage one particular boss, you have to choose and type the correct answers to his questions.

Intensity of gameplay is nicely contrasted by the game's humor. Most often you type relatively meaningless sentences, but at times the game elicits the occasional chuckle or two with its self-referential phrases, such as zombies saying, "I'm coming" or "I don't think you can win," or the thoughtful, "What was I going to say?"

Typing of the Dead has problems, though none that hamper gameplay. The English subtitles make it obvious the game is from Japan, though there aren't any obvious spelling or grammatical flaws. Some phrases, however, like "I will destroy and hate all mankind," may seem a bit odd to native English speakers. Console gamers used to this type of phrasing won't be distracted, but some PC gamers not exposed to it may find it a bit disconcerting.

Regardless of the phrasing, the voice acting is horrendous and couldn't have been worse had it been designed that way on purpose. Some speech has emphasis on every single word, while in other instances, strange inflections give words different meanings than what was intended. Voice clips not suffering from these problems are delivered deadpan, as if the voice actors are reading straight from a script.

Like the arcade and Dreamcast versions, no mouse support is provided, limiting you to menu scrolling via the keyboard, as well as the Alt-F4 combo to quit the game. Despite some localization flaws, the game is innovative and enjoyable, and should appeal to most anyone open-minded enough to give it a try. And, you learn typing skills! Typing of the Dead may be based on a dumb idea, but it's an incredibly fun game nonetheless, with effective subtle, self-deprecating humor that adds a flourish to gameplay.

Graphics: The arcade version of this game was two years old when the PC port was released, and the age shows in the graphics. Still, there are occasional moments when the game's special effects will impress you.

Sound: The game has good sound and music, but suffers from one of the worst voice acting jobs to ever be inflicted on a home computer.

Enjoyment: The gameplay is highly original and quite intense. If typing isn't a chore for you then the gameplay can become somewhat addictive too.

Replay Value: An array of options gives the game high replay value. You can play through the game in either arcade or original mode, or just play boss battles. There are also two modes designed to improve your typing skills. Each mode also has multiple levels or options to choose from.


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