Review by falsehead
Reviewed: 08/05/01 | Updated: 08/05/01
Eat your heart out Mavis Beacon! Ah, I see zombie already has done...
This is without doubt the best ridiculous, screwed-up, mentalist hybrid of survival horror and secretarial exam I have ever had the good fortune to play!
Of course its also the ONLY ridiculous, screwed-up, mentalist hybrid of survival horror and secretarial exam I have ever had the good fortune to play. But that's why its so great. In a world of formulaic games and gaming experiences, its heartening to realise that Sega is still committed to breathing life and innovation into an often tired and stale market.
Touching Zombies is really disgusting
The Typing of the Dead is based on Sega's immensely popular light gun game - The House of the Dead 2. In this game you took the roles of special agents sent to clear a town of zombies, mutants and generally figure out what has been going on. With the light gun version the gameplay was fairly simple. You fired your gun at the screen and killed the zombies and mutants. Boss fights saw you taking on huge creatures, some needed slightly different tactics. But in the main it was an arcade shoot 'em up, great for stress relieving mindless violence and quick fix enjoyment.
It was then a stroke of genius to redo this slice of blasting action into a gaming experience that is just as fast and furious, but can also improve your reading, typing and English skills.
Instead of a gun, you now have a keyboard. Our intrepid heroes who you control are exactly as they were in HoTD, but instead of guns they have keyboards attached to their fronts. Its a lovely and humourous touch. Now as you make your way through the devastated town, it's your job to ''type'' the baddies to death!
The way this works in practice is the minute a zombie appears and word also appears in-front of it. The words appear randomly and the faster you type, the better the grade you are awarded. The sheer randomness of the words is a source of great humour - ''boobs'', ''gingivitis'', ''hamburger'' - don't stop to laugh though, you'll get chomped!
A litre of gastric juices
You need quick reactions to save the townspeople as well. A letter will appear quickly and you must hit it in time to save them. You reactions and typing skills need to be pretty good to survive even the first couple of levels. The harder ones require the touch-typing skills of the best secretary in the world. It's a real challenge.
Luckily you can practice in a series of very good typing tutorials. This takes you though the skills you need to learn touch-typing. Your tutor is one of the game characters who talks you though it. There are quite a few jokes (a few at your own expense when you do particularly badly), but he remains a likeable teacher. You start with mastering basic keys and work up to covering all the numbers, punctuation, and symbols. You are timed on your responses and you can practice your worst keys. You are not allowed to move from one tutorial to the next until you have fully completed all the tasks.
I reminds me of when I was young
I must say I spent a few months in unemployment land several years ago and went on a touch-typing course to improve my chances of getting a job (or keep the Unemployment Office off my back for a while). This is certainly a match for any of the typing courses I used on PC and is a damn sight more fun as well.
So there is plenty to do in the Typing of the Dead. As well as the Arcade and Original game modes, there are the tutorials and the drills. The drills are exercises you can keep repeating to get higher and higher scores (grades). Drills involve things like zombies dropping down and you having to hit the key associated with that zombie as fast as possible. The faster it's destroyed, the better your grade.
There is also the fantastic Boss Mode which lets you replay boss confrontations. These get more complex as the game progresses. In one you are asked questions like to identify and type which of three words displayed is an adjective. Great for morons like me who never quite grasped adjectives, verbs an' all that English stuff.
whoops! there go my bloomers
Graphically its identical to House of the Dead 2. SO it's awesome to look at. Although if you are like me and need to look at the keyboard when typing you'll find you quickly get neck ache from all the nodding up and down to check the words appearing on screen and where your fingers are on the keyboard. The end-of-level bosses are truly spectacular and the action throughout is fast, colourful and furious. Atmospheric screams, moans and dialogue add to the feel of panic as you madly flick your fingers over the keys. Luckily infinite continues render it a less daunting task.
So in summary, I love this game. The dreamcast keyboard is the latest in a long line of underused gaming add-ons. I can't think of a better way to utilise it than a game like this. The sheer bizarreness of the concept must be applauded from the highest heights. AND, most importantly its a bizare concept that works. It's just as addictive and playable as the game it is based on. Plus it has much more longevity, there are plenty of secrets to unlock. Saving townsfolk can open up new routes, the drills can be repeated in pursuit of high rankings. Finally as I am now using it a serious way to improve my (often poor) typing skills, I could be playing it forever!
I still think alot of people are skeptical about a console typing tutor. But I see it as a game whose goal is to become the ultimate typing prodigy. I have spent hours lost to this quest and will spend many more. If you have a Dreamcast Keyboard then this game is an essential purchase.
Mavis Beacon, your time is over and you leave with nothing. There's a new typing tutor on the block and it's bigger, badder and a damn site more fun than you could ever be. Now excuse me, I'm off to strap on my chest-keyboard and wipe out some green-blooded meanies. Nothing can withstand my 60 wpm rapid fire fingers!!
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
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