Many old arcade fans fondly remember “The House of the Dead,” a series of light-gun games that had players shooting up zombies. It was so popular that it later inspired, of all things, a typing tutor, “The Typing of the Dead,” in which players used a keyboard instead of a light gun to kill zombies using the power of spelling and grammar. It was very tongue-in-cheek, combining the already faux-terrible acting of the series with the silliness of deadly words.
Now, Sega has seen fit to give the typing tutor treatment to another “House of the Dead” title, namely the rather hilarious “The House of the Dead: Overkill.” Needless to say, the end product is something magical.
“Overkill” was originally a Wii title, taking advantage of the Wii remote to bring the light gun mechanics over to a fuller game. The narrative used a grindhouse style similar to films like “Planet Terror” or “Machete,” complete with film grain, purposefully terrible acting, and an occasional intermission or missing reel to signify loading screens. It was stupid, but it was also hilarious.
“Overkill” is more-or-less cleanly translated over to the typing tutor frame, for better or worse. The level design and cut scenes are cut and pasted over from the original, and while they are excellent levels and cut scenes, they lack the goofiness the original “Typing of the Dead” displayed. Sure, the original design was goofy enough as is, but the original “Typing” title made several adjustments that made the experience even funnier. For example, in the original “Typing,” in-game characters used computer backpacks with keyboard-guns, which looked hilariously ridiculous. In “Overkill,” they simply use normal guns. That’s no fun.
However, the phrases used to kill zombies make up for that. References like “Better call Saul” or “Went into Ravenholm,” and gaming in-jokes like “Need a higher Metacritic” or “Keyboard Hero” add to the hilarity of the title.
The game also includes the normal version of “The House of the Dead: Overkill,” so players can get some mouse-pointing practice as well. Unfortunately, using a traditional light gun takes some effort, so if you want a traditional arcade experience, know what you’re getting into.
As a typing tutor, though, it’s hard to beat. The writing is as hysterical as always, and it teaches skills well: If you can’t do 60 words per minute, well, you’re dead meat.
Game: “The Typing of the Dead: Overkill”
Developer: Modern Dream
Genre: Typing Tutor