Review by Jaksiel
Reviewed: 06/27/01 | Updated: 01/07/02
Kudos go to Sega for having the guts to release this game in the U.S.!
Games like this are the reason why hardcore gamers respect Sega so much. After all, they certainly don’t know how well such a quirky game would sell...but they don’t care. They are committed to bringing gamers quality games, no matter how much of a niche product it is. Who else but Sega would have the guts to release a typing game based on a light gun game? You certainly wouldn’t see such a thing released by Sony or Nintendo, that’s for sure.
Of course, all of this would be a moot point if Typing of the Dead (TotD) were no fun. Let’s face it: most typing “games” (Mavis Beacon, anyone?) are really just tools to help you learn how to type better. Amazingly, TotD skirts around this impediment rather well: It manages to allow you to have fun while you’re learning how to be a better typist. Most impressive, to say the least.
What sets TotD apart from other typing programs is its sense of urgency. Just seeing words on screen and having to type them is one thing...but having to type them with the threat of being attacked by zombies is another thing entirely. Nothing gets the fingers moving quite like the sight of an axe flying directly at your face.
Basically, TotD is House of the Dead 2 with that one major difference of using a keyboard rather than a light gun. The levels, sounds, and graphics (with some exceptions) are ripped directly from House of the Dead 2. The few exceptions reflect on the tongue-in-cheek nature of TotD. For example, during the cutscenes, the heroes are seen with Dreamcasts strapped to their backs and keyboards in front of them. I practically guarantee that you’ll get a chuckle out of this the first time you see it.
Being taken directly from House of the Dead 2, the graphics are excellent. The zombies are finely detailed and look as realistic as zombies can look. Also, as can be expected, the game is just as bloody and gruesome as House of the Dead 2 (except for the fact that some zombies wield rubber mallets rather than axes...). Of course, you’ll often be too busy looking at the words on the screen and typing them to gaze at the scenery.
Unfortunately, the audio doesn’t have the same high quality as the video does. The voice acting is atrocious. Many characters have no emotion in their voices and sound almost robotic. Goldman and Zeal are particularly horrible. The rest of the sound effects are pedestrian at best. There’s nothing special about the gunshots or zombie screams, for example. For the most part, the music is forgettable. The only notable song is the boss’s theme in Chapter 5.
TotD’s gameplay is simple at heart. Zombies appear on the screen, and words appear on their bodies. Your goal is to type these words before being attacked by the zombies. It seems simple enough, until you get to Chapter 6 and three zombies, all with five or six word phrases, are rushing at you at the same time.
TotD has several different modes to be covered here. First is Arcade Mode, which is exactly what it sounds like it is. It is the exact same as the arcade TotD, except without the quarters. Very similar to Arcade Mode is Original Mode. As the name suggests, Original Mode is Dreamcast-only. Original Mode follows the same path as Arcade Mode, except with the addition of items, which can occasionally be found in barrels. These items range from simple things such as the Molotov Cocktail (kills all zombies on the screen) to everybody’s favorite, the Golden Hands (anything you type in is interpreted as the correct letter). In Original Mode, you can also earn coins by completing certain goals in each chapter. By earning enough coins, you get rewards such as more lives and unlimited continues.
The difficulty in these two modes ramps up nicely. In the first chapter, you’ll be given simple words such as “Me” and “Milk” to type, and plenty of time to type them in before being attacked. The final chapter, however, will force you to type five and six word phrases in a surprisingly short amount of time. The challenge of the bosses is also scaled well. The first few are simple, but even expert typists will have difficulty with the final two bosses.
Other than Arcade and Original Mode, you’ll probably spend most of your time in Drill Mode. Drill Mode tests your typing skill in speed, accuracy, reflex, and special keys. Each drill has a unique set of rules and a system that grades your performance anywhere from an “A” to an “E”. By completing all drills with a “C” or better, you gain access to the Final Exam, which tests all of these skills.
What gives the Drill Mode excellent replay value is its statistic keeping. Each time you complete a drill, no matter how well you did on it, your score is recorded. You can then view a list of the top 5 scores for each drill. This list gives you incentive to improve your drill times and scores, even if you already have all A’s. It is also a great way to compare your typing skill with others online. Unfortunately, the lack of a true TotD online community prevents this from occurring (though there is a TotD High Scores site on the Internet).
Boss Mode is self-explanatory. You can fight any boss from the Arcade/Original Mode, as long as you’ve beaten every boss before it. Each time you defeat a boss in this mode, you gain a star and are able to fight that boss at a slightly more difficult level. Thankfully, as in Drill Mode, your times are saved on your file, so you could also compare these times for bragging rights.
Rounding up the list of modes available from the start is Tutorial Mode. Unlike the other modes, this mode is only for the novice typist. It will teach you how to type without looking at the screen (otherwise known as touch-typing), and that’s about it. There’s no way to improve your speed in this mode, though that skill is essential to every other mode in TotD.
There is also at least one other mode not accessible when you first play TotD. The only way to gain access to this mode is by earning a password by beating Arcade Mode within certain parameters...of course, if you want to take the easy way out, you could simply find the password online.
Though very unlikely to be utilized, TotD does offer a two-player mode. As long as you own two keyboards, you and another player can venture through the Arcade or Original Mode and compete to kill the zombies faster. I can’t really comment on this, however, as I have never had the opportunity to try it out.
TotD’s replay value is amazingly high. There’s always the incentive to better your times and scores, particularly in Drill Mode. The Arcade and Original Modes offer branching paths within the first few levels, giving even more reason to replay these modes. The variety of the words and phrases to type can also keep you coming back for more. For example, one boss requires you to type out short stories, some of which can be good for a laugh.
I feel TotD is a must-buy if you own a Dreamcast and its keyboard. It can be found for between $20-30, and you probably already own a keyboard, so there’s no reason to avoid purchasing this. However, it may not be for everyone. I suggest you give it a rent to see if it’s your style before risking a purchase. In conclusion, if you’re like most, you’ll automatically dismiss TotD simply based on the fact that it is a typing game. Don’t. You may be pleasantly surprised.
PROS: Amazingly fun and addictive; more fun than it has any right to be.
CONS: Horrendous voice acting and forgettable music.
Replay: Very High
Challenge: How good of a typist are you?
Buy/Rent?: Rent, then Buy
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
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