When I was in high school, I looked upon typing class as one of the great horrors of modern society. My teacher, Mrs. Ito, could drill us for an hour with “M, M, M. OK, now M, T, M,” droning strings of repeating letters on and on until our eyes crossed.
But an all new class of typing horror has changed the way I view my keyboard.
Imagine a bloodthirsty zombie charging at you with an ax. You cannot run. You have no gun to shoot. Your only hope is to type the word “walnut” as quickly as possible.
“The Typing of the Dead,” a limited arcade release now available for Sega Dreamcast and Windows-compatible PCs, is the most intense typing tutor ever envisioned.
“The Typing of the Dead” builds from the arcade hit “The House of the Dead 2, a grisly, gory game in which agents shoot their way through a town filled with zombies, monsters, and scientifically-designed demons.
Players controlled this game with a pistol, aiming at targets as they appeared on the screen.
“The House of the Dead” and “The House of the Dead 2” were interactive versions of “The Night of the Living Dead” — with man-eating zombies that you either shot to pieces with a half-dozen bullets or killed with a single shot to the head. Either way, the results were squishy.
But Rikiya Nakagawa, the Sega game designer who led the House of the Dead project, knows that there is more to life than shooting. There is typing, too.
So Nakagawa took the guns out of his gory game and replaced them with keyboards.
“The Typing of the Dead” begins exactly as House 2 began, with two agents driving down a particularly European-looking city street. They are stopped by a flying demon with a whiny, mechanical-sounding voice that taunts them, then flies away.
The agents run into a nearby building filled with books that appears to be either a library or an accounting office.
Here, they find the bloody bodies of dead colleagues. They also find the first zombies.
The zombies come in all varieties. There are bald ones with missing eyes and shriveled skin. You will encounter some with long hair and blue skin covered with lesions. Run-of-the-mill zombies come with hammers, hatchets, and chain saws.
In “The House of the Dead,” these monsters ran at you and you shot them.
In “Typing of,” the same creatures appear, only this time with word windows appearing in front of them.
To kill them, you must type the word or phrase in their window.
In one particularly challenging section, players are given 30 seconds to destroy 10 zombies. Once this lesson/mission begins, the street fills with zombies bearing words like “Kidney,” “Duodenum,” “Pancreas,” and “Hi Bob.”
“The House of the Dead” was divided into chapters. You battled a unique and particularly fierce monster at the end of each chapter. “Typing” is divided into lessons, with that same unique monster at the end of each lesson. These monsters are especially wordy. To defeat them, you must type multiple phrases quite quickly.
But this typing tutor even has all-new lessons that are not based on chapters from “The House of the Dead.” It also has all-new tutorial and drill modes.
“The Typing of the Dead” is a brilliant piece of software. It combines a fun game with an important skill.
Frankly, this is a game that rewards the player with new skills. Well, maybe this is a tutorial that rewards the player with fun.
However you look at it, this is a fun way to brush up your typing skills.
It is, however, also an adult-oriented way to brush up those skills. “The House of the Dead” was an M-rated video game. It had so much blood and violence that the Entertainment Software Rating Board deemed it appropriate only for players ages 17 and up.
“The Typing of the Dead” has the same zombies, the same blood, and the same intensity. It also has the same M-rating.
This would be great educational software if it weren’t too ghastly for younger audiences. Even so, it is a typing lesson few people will ever forget.