Way back in the year 1999, Sega took its successful horror light-gun game, House of the Dead 2, swapped guns for keyboards and released it in arcades under the name The Typing of the Dead. Two years later this typing tutor was released overeseas on the Dreamcast and PC. It was — and still is frankly — the best edutainment game this side of Carmen Sandiego.
And though it took Sega the better part of a decade, the long-time game maker finally realised that its little typing game could do so much more; it could teach English. So in 2008 they released English of the Dead on the Nintendo DS.
English of the Dead — as its name implies — is a game designed as a tool to help Japanese students remember English vocabulary. Playing the game is simple, each zombie has a Japanese word above its head. To shoot it, simply write that word in English on the DS' touch screen.
Of course, if you turn off the English hints as I did in the video above, it becomes an excellent vocabulary tool for English speakers who are studying Japanese as well. And since you can adjust the difficulty of the vocabulary, this game is still useful even if you're already proficient in Japanese. The easiest difficulty setting is perfect for students starting their second year of college-level Japanese, and as the DS is region free, it's totally worth the import.
Oh and in case you were wondering, yes, House of the Dead 2's cheesy voice acting and plot are still present. So if you're looking for a game as hilarious as it is educational, do yourself a favour and pick up English of the Dead.
And for more games to help you learn Japanese, check out our article on an RPG designed for that very purpose.