Your Weekly Kusoge
The Typing of the Dead (ザ・タイピング・オブ・ザ・デッド) - Arcade, Dreamcast, Windows, Macintosh, PlayStation 2 (1999)
The Sega Dreamcast was a dream console for peripheral fetishists. Arcade fans could play more faithful convertions of their coin-op favourites than ever before, all with the proper controllers, be it maracas, fishing rods, or dual joysticks. And then there was the mouse and keyboard. Initially created for use with the Dreamcast internet capabilities and web browser, they also came in handy for traditionally PC games like first person shooters.
Games specifically designed for these devices on the Dreamcast, however, were rare, but Sega decided to adopt one of their beloved franchises to be played exclusively with the dream keyboard. One of the most popular games in their portfolio at the time was The House of the Dead 2, which, otherwise a fairly standard light gun shooter, entertained the masses with its incredible B-movie style presentation, intentionally(?) abysmal writing and the most awkward voice acting ever, where the actors often weren't even sure whether their lines were questions or exclamations. As if all that wasn't hilarious enough, some insane mind at Sega figured it would be a great idea to mix the campy splatterfest with a keyboard training program. To any normal CEO or project manager this must have sound absolutely ridiculous, but Sega just went with it.
The Typing of the Dead is basically just The House of the Dead 2. Even the title screen just replaces "House" with "Typing" in an unfitting font color. All the stages, cutscenes and silly dialogue remain intact, only the agents don't carry their guns, but battery powered dreamcasts on their backs with the keyboard strapped around their necks! (One feels almost inclined to forget all standards for decent writing and put some more exclamation marks behind that sentence. The hardware, by the way, got properly replaced in the PS2 version.) In consequence, the player, too, is using the keyboard to kill the legions of undead abominations with words, not even necessarily ones like "Drop dead" or "Headshot", but more often in the reigns of "Skimpy undies" or "Mile high smile".
Of course, the pacing of the game has been adjusted to better support the new input method and a few sections are simplified, but all major elements of the main game made the transition successfully. Never again will you find a game where you can save victims with a "Made in USA" or shoot off a fiend's face by "Playing chess face to face". There's even some new bonus rounds where hordes of zombies all have to be killed with similarly sounding or particularly hard-to-type words.
The most formidable targets of ridicule are the bosses, though. The giant three-headed snake used to be one of the most threatening enemies in the original, here it is abused as a quiz show, where one only gets to "shoot" the head that shows the right answer. The chainsaw-wielding leatherhead lookalike is also hardly more dignified by the short narratives about bedwetting and farting in elevators that accompany his fight.
All this may sound stupid, but many actually consider this the best game in the House of the Dead series. Even as a keyboard trainer, it is quite competent. Each game starts with very simple words like "OK", but quickly expands to small phrases and even full sentences. When the player runs out of lives and has to use a credit, the tasks grow easier again. Besides the main game, there are also training missions that focus on speed or accuracy. What do we learn from this (besides typing better, that is)? Stupid ideas don't have to result in stupid games!
For lovers of obscurities, there is also a Japan-only, PC-only sequel based on The House of the Dead 3. English of the Dead is another variation for the DS, created to help Japanese gamers learn English.