New House of the Dead: Undead on Arrival
If you dont remember a game called The Typing of the Dead, youre not alone.
Released on the failed Sega Dreamcast system, this gory, hilariously titled arcade-style shooter was in many ways exactly like its popular counterpart, The House of the Dead. But instead of aiming a gun at the screen, players fired by typing non sequiturs -- Smeg Head, Potato Man, etc. -- on the keyboard. When entered quickly and accurately, the corresponding letters blasted bloodthirsty corpses with a kind of alphabet ammunition not seen since the bloody Sesame Street riot of 82.
Yes, Typing of the Dead was gimmicky and laughable, but it also turned out to be much more: a unique, surprisingly enjoyable game in a zombified industry plagued with brainless, carbon-copy titles. No wonder it still enjoys cult status, as well as its share of critical praise.
Whats more, the game is newly relevant again thanks to the release of The House of the Dead 2&3 Return for the Wii. A paired reissue of two 90s-era arcade games, House of the Dead 2&3 amounts to little more than another lazy third-party release. It pales in comparison to Typing of the Dead, which is all you really need to know.
This isnt necessarily an indictment of the House of the Dead series; retro, arcade shooter games were simply made to be adapted for the Wii, and nostalgic fans of the genre will love this inexpensive compilation at least for a while. Time hasnt been kind to House of the Deads graphics (which are still scary, just no longer in the intended way), but its still the same mindless shooting-gallery entertainment youd expect from the quarter-draining classic.
Still, playing House of the Dead 2&3 again, this time on a $300 next-gen system, leads to an inescapable conclusion: If the Wii had been readily available to everyone who wanted one back in 2006, it would have already gone the way of the Dreamcast because of its perpetual dry spell of worthy games. Two years later, you can still count Wiis must-buy offerings on one hand; playing ancient shooters between long-awaited Nintendo blockbusters like Super Smash Bros. Brawl (itself a retread of a 1999 game) just aint cuttin it anymore. Where we should be getting games that take advantage of the Wiis brilliant technology, instead were force-fed bargain-bin clutter.
Perhaps there is hope on the horizon. September brings a promising new game called De Blob, starring a mischievous paint blob whos charged with restoring color to a black-and-white village kinda like Pleasantville with anthropomorphic art supplies. But that same month also marks the debut of other Wii tripe such as Build-a-Bear Workshop. Yep, a game based on the plush taxidermy chain of the same name.
So if you too have exhausted all other Wii options, maybe its time to saddle up and relive the 90s with House of the Dead 2&3. Better yet, relive the 80s with more of Nintendos Virtual Console retreads.
Or you could just drop $30 on an old Sega Dreamcast and a dusty copy of Typing of the Dead, and spare yourself the heartache.
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