Thanks to a nod from Configuratrix, I recently played The Typing of the Dead, a typing game built on top of the House of the Dead arcade/console zombie shooter. The original arcade version uses two light guns (one for each player), but in this version you are armed only with a keyboard. Or in my case, a keyboard and a 12-week old puppy in your lap.
I have to tell you that I didn’t expect to complete the game on the first try, so I didn’t really keep track of important things like how long the game took to finish.
The game needs to be run on Windows 95 compatibility mode if you’re using WinXP (and W2K, I imagine). I didn’t have sound in my game, but that didn’t detract from my fun. I think the frantic pounding on the keyboard added some suspense to the survival-horror theme.
There are plenty of options, none of which I explored before my first game. The first one I probably should have adjusted was the “keyboard” setting mode, which was set to “UK” and not to “US.” I don’t know if that made a difference in my typing or not, but I probably should have set the keyboard accurately before playing.
The game is full-screen only, although there’s probably a way to adjust this.
There are different ways to play the game:
- Arcade mode – Not sure what this means!
- Original mode – this is how I first played the game. You get the entire storyline in order. The story is pretty weak, but hey, it’s a zombie game.
- Tutorial mode – Not sure what this means!
- Drill mode – Practice your |337 typing skills.
- Boss mode – Fight against the bosses. With the exception of the quizzing three headed beast, I thought the bosses were pretty tame and probably wouldn’t be worth fighting on their own. YMMV.
The biggest drawback to the game, technically speaking, is that there’s no way to quit unless you alt-tab and kill it from the task manager.
This review will be based on Original Mode.
As this write-up from Underdogs suggests, the game supposedly scales the difficulty up and down to meet your typing skills. If you can’t spell, say, HAEMORRHOIDS, then the game will downshift you to, perhaps, “scruffy.” The game will also throw out phrases to you, the most gruesome being a five sentence diatribe about the enjoyment from picking scabs.
The game is from a first person shooter point of view, and from one to four zombies will attack you at any given time. Early zombies are easy to beat; later zombies throw weapons at you and require multiple hits before they are dispatched. There is also a “mission mode” on each level. An example of a mission is to kill 20 zombies in 30 seconds, or to hang tight for 30 seconds without being hit. Successful completion of the mission gives you a power up that you can use in combat. A power up that I thought was particularly funny (if not really useful) was the “zombie tranquilizer,” which slowed down your attackers in a certain radius for 10 seconds.
The bosses at the end of each chapter are fun to beat, although most of the boss characters themselves were a touch bland. My favorite was a three-headed snake monster: he would ask you a question, and you had to choose and type the correct answer before he attacked you.
Typing of the Dead awards you points for killing zombies, and also for accuracy and quickness. Accuracy is further broken down by main keys, symbol keys, and overall accuracy per level (expressed as a percentage). There was only one level I finished that I didn’t have higher than 90% accuracy.
There are six chapters to the game. Upon completion of each chapter the game summarizes your statistics and ranks you compared to the last 1000 players. I don’t know how accurate this ranking is — I’m a pretty good typer with a sustained, accurate words per minute speed of mid 90s to low 100s — but it seemed odd that I was getting top rankings in every level. According to the stats at the end of the game, I ranked #1, ousting someone from March of 2003. There is an IPX-based network connectivity option, but who knows if the program is actually maintaining a database of contestants. Seems highly unlikely.
Point blank capitals to the dome:
- It has zombies!
- Fun way to brush up and evaluate your typing skills.
- It has zombies!
- It’s free!
- May be finicky to play: runs in full screen mode, the game can only be terminated from the task manager, and my particular configuration didn’t have working sound.
- If you’re a long-time home key typer, this game should be easy for you on the default settings, and is a little shorter than I anticipated.
- You repeat each of the bosses throughout the adventure, which seemed a bit cheesy to me. More zombie masters, please!
Typing of the Dead, RISE FROM YOUR GRAVE, and accept:
Four out of five STFU mugs!