The Typing of the Dead
Platform: Arcade, ported to Dreamcast and PC
Release date: 1999/March, 2000
In the far too many years spent gaming, this may be the most ridiculous thing I've ever discovered.
The basis for Typing is House of the Dead 2, a light gun pistol shooter with zombies as the onrushing horde, giving it the peculiarity that enemies lose chunks with every hit, but don't necessarily stop with the first loss of a vital organ. The player moves automatically on predetermined paths (with small amounts of divergence) through six levels, blasting incoming foes before they sap his precious life bar. There are some power-ups, challenges and helpless civilians, and six major bosses. Typing is a virtual carbon copy, except that it replaces the gun with the keyboard. Even in the arcade version.
Every zombie comes with a text box at roughly waist height, and dies when the word or phrase within is typed. Each right letter yields a bullet effect, each typo a miss sound. Moreover, the length of the contents depends on the difficulty of the target and the time to react: A easyish zombie might have "she's a boy!" or "dot-com this", while "Alice" might accompany a weak lightning-fast one and "Address me as 'your highness'" a bulky one lumbering from a distance. A carrot for accuracy is a bar that yields an extra point of energy whenever it fills up, and a meter measuring consecutive flawless typings that determines its filling speed. The system sounds bizarre, not without good reason, but works like a charm.
The six stages - five of which are accessible immediately - are progressively difficult, so playing on first one might look like this:
F1! E2! OK! Tyrant! Patrons! V! X! U! Maracas! Booking! Lo and behold!
As the length of the phrases increases, so does their room to maneuver. The fifth stage is radically different:
Nasty flight attendants! Nippon cha cha cha! Chain-saw sculpture! Watermelon on the head! No jest for the wicked! Basal cell carcinoma! The runway's flooded! Delicate white fingers! Next stop, Graceland!
Then there's the sixth.
Embarassing and humiliating! Lingerie for a special occasion! Muscle is made from amino acid!
Whoever came up with the idea ran with it, tripped and got it lodged into his throat: the game's primary motif is weirdness. Green-blooded gruesome corpses now wield rubber mallets and golf clubs instead of axes (though chainsaws remain unchanged - chainsaws are funny). The phrases have been localized seamlessly if they ever were in Japanese, but contrast massively with the engrish dialogue and unprofessional voice acting. Player characters carry keyboards and Dreamcasts.
Graphics and sounds (save for the voices) are both unspectacular, but functional - it's the gameplay that drives Typing. Power-ups translated well to the new format (golden hands - type what you want), but three of the six bosses are uninspiring "type more faster" types. The home versions come with a smattering of unlockable content, some bonuses and training minigames etc. There's a multiplayer network mode that I haven't been able to test.
The ability to enjoy Typing likely depends a fair bit on typing skill. The game is a touch typing teacher in disguise
UPDATE 8 Sep 2006
The same bug that has nuked my scratch pad on at least ten occasions destroyed everything below this line. As Google cache has already been updated and the Wayback machine is blocked from this site it's unrecoverable.