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Typing of the Dead

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Released: 2000

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: Dreamcast

Publisher: Sega

Developer: Smilebit

Submitted by: Neuromancer

Whilst fast fingers have long been a prerequisite for video-gamers, keyboarding skills have enjoyed a relatively dim limelight, one shone mainly upon Spectrum enthusiasts.

Speed aside, typing accuracy is a skill generally of only marginal benefit to text adventurers. Sega evidently noticed this travesty and produced a game the qwerty keyboard had waited 125 years for: 'Typing of the Dead'. 

Along with it's sequel, TOTD must surely be the only coin-op in the world equipped with twin keyboards; ported to the Dreamcast in 2000 this brilliantly unusual offering is best described as a mod, rather than a remake, of the on-rails light-gun zombie blaster 'The House of the Dead 2'.

Bereft of a lightgun, responsibility for aiming and reloading is removed entirely from the player, instead advancing foes carry words and phrases which must be swiftly and accurately typed; every keystroke fires a shot, with only concurrent correct entries finding their mark.

Mistakes are costly, requiring the entire expression to be entered from scratch. It is in the content of the linguistic targets that the game's true genius is found, providing a constant injection of quintessentially English humour. Shooting an enemy with a lightgun pales in comparison to besting a foe by hammering 'finger of scorn' or 'bed-wetting' into the keyboard; the development team apparently included Red Dwarf fans, and as such dropping a zombie by entering 'smeg-head' is now high upon my list of gaming delights.

Controls and minor graphical alterations aside, TOTD is a direct re-tread of HOTD2, and thus sees the player facing down hoards under direction of the mysterious Goldman, who thankfully still uses 'so-bad-it's good' voice-acting as a weapon of mass destruction (including utterances which easily rank alongside Barry's all-time classic offerings in 'Resident Evil'.).

Certainly as intense and as difficult as the light-gun original, TOTD is surprisingly even more rewarding to play; whilst a certain level of touch-typing competency is a definite prerequisite the game's entertaining tutorial modes should bring the player up to scratch in a way that 'Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing' could never hope to match (Ms. Beacon would no doubt be a world-class zombie slayer, however).