Mavis Beacon may look like she has a friendly smile, but don’t get too attached. She’s actually just a marketing ploy. Mavis isn’t real; she’s what advertising folks call a logotype. Still, that doesn’t mean we don’t have our fair share of fond memories of her. After all, she introduced us to the fast-paced world of speed-typing, which was all the rage during the late eighties.
With our fingers poised above the home keys, we were ready to pounce on any key that needed a pounding, sending steady stream of correctly spelled copy to our computer monitors – and it was all thanks to Mavis. With Mavis leading the way, typing didn’t seem like a chore. Instead, it felt like preparation for a future where everyone’s true worth would be measured – not by their deeds – but by how many words per minute they could type with their left hand. We’re still waiting for that to happen – and when it does, we’ll be ready.
To be fair this came out on Dreamcast in 2000, but even though you don’t have any classroom memories of The Typing of the Dead, the game brought the typing genre to its apex. You see, the one thing all previous typing games were missing up until this point was more zombies. In fact, the key ingredient missing from most things in life today seems to be more zombies.
The game was a spin-off of 1999’s House of the Dead 2, a first-person rail-shooter published by Sega that consisted of gunning down the undead with a light gun. But Typing of the Dead threw out the gun in exchange for a keyboard, resulting in a typing tutor with both single and multiplayer modes that had players transcribing some of the best sentences known to gaming. Forget about repeatedly typing “Dog,” this game had randomly generated gems like “Grandad vacation” and “Which hole?” Yeah, typing is brilliant.
Above: See The Typing of the Dead in action
No game has ever managed to properly portray the plight of a fish like Odell Lake. Through a combination of otters, fish, and RPG-styled random battles, Odell Lake reveals how much of a bastard nature can be. It’s not even a fish-eat-fish world. It’s more like a fish-eat-fish-then-die-slowly-of-poison-because-that-blueback-salmon-was-exposed-to-lab-radiation-at-some-point world.
Released in 1986 by the same organization that funded Oregon Trail, Odell Lake placed you in the role of a fish faced with the task of swimming through an Oregon lake, just trying to score a bite of plankton without succumbing to the crushing forces of the world working against it. It was meant to help you learn about various types of wildlife animals by tapping into your familiarity with turn-based combat. And guess what? It worked.