sunnuntai 3. maaliskuuta 2013

REVIEW - Mario Teaches Typing | PC | 1992

GENRE(S): Edutainment
DEVELOPER(S): Interplay Productions, Presage Software Development Company (MAC)
PUBLISHER(S): Interplay Productions, MacPlay (MAC)

Once upon a time, this blog pretty much revolved around the most popular and distinguished video game character in history. Almost two years ago, I bid farewell to him, and now he's back, by the strength of a few curiosity items in his long, long resume, which spans a whopping total of 32 years. Although some of my most positive, heartfelt reviews to date have been inspired by Mario games, there's a certain selection of Mario games that has inspired me to write some of the most insulting, provocative prose richer with expletives than all of the other reviews combined. Since I'm all for self torture, I'm now going to bring Mario back into the fray with a pick from that particular selection of games - an educational Mario game. It's called Mario Teaches Typing, and to my understanding, it was Mario's first educational game, released some months before the first versions of Mario Is Missing! emerged. It was made by Interplay instead of The Software Toolworks, and it was exclusive to home computers, so two of my favourite things to bash about these games are eliminated before I've even started the game. This had better be bad.


At least Mario Teaches Typing is a very straightforward and honest "game" of its sort - down to its very title. You know exactly what to expect from it when you load it up. Or will you? No, you won't.

Don't start that "Hello JUKKA!" crap with me.
You're not the Mario I once knew.
First of all, let me straighten myself out, as to why I chose this game for review. After such a long break from reviewing games, and with my mind totally set on something else for almost a whole month, I wanted to review something really light, and light-hearted, to get my juices flowing again. I had a few good ideas, but then a very brief selection of Mario games yet untouched caught my eye, and I thought that since this year's most about tying up loose ends, why not bring back the most popular plumber in the world, who just happened to dominate this blog for its first month online and a few later periods of time? What's more light and light-hearted than an educational Mario game? It might not be good, but at least I can have a few laughs... and perhaps provide a few laughs. Unfortunately I don't find Mario Teaches Typing too funny. It doesn't even have the bad, and usually unintentional humour and ridiculous imagery of the usual Mario edutainment caliber to give it some strange, inexplicable appeal. It's just one horrible app - I've seriously seen better typing apps made by first-year IT students. Better, and definitely more sensical. And, when it comes to the target group, I think having to type real words instead of short lines of gibberish like "?r@q" is more beneficial to a child's basic learning process. Maybe it's just me. There are real words there, they're just considered "more challenging" than those lines of gibberish and that's why they show up later. Weird thinking...

The first game, and let me tell you: it lasts
There are four different typing games, influenced by some real Mario games. The basic idea behind all games is the same: type the letters or words that pop up to get ahead in the whole wretched thing and get yourself a decent report card to show off to your friends and parents. Or just get a life - at least a better app to make you a killer with the keyboard. Only two games are available at the beginning, and indeed, Mario's Expert Express showers you with gibberish you must simply copy. Once you conquer more challenges within the whole game, the gibberish apparently turns into real, short words.

Would someone tell me by what degree of a
flying fuck would this be educational?
Well, conquering those challenges is no interesting task. All of the games are very simple, and they hardly teach you how to type, only how to alternate between 2-4 different keys at a time, or type down short words with similar, repetitive structures. The outline to the whole game might sound boring, yet harmless, but there's also a small twist to bug those curious enough to try this game in this day and age: the game cannot register certain symbols such as "@" typed with a modern keyboard. And, well, to cast it out as bluntly as I can, the game IS boring throughout. No less than one of the most boring games I've ever played, even in its usually boring company. And, it sounds simply rancid. Even though the game wasn't made by The Software Toolworks, Interplay certainly provided them with the safely annoying solution of taking some well-known Mario tune (in this case the Super Mario World theme song) and playing it on endless loop throughout the whole thing. What's worse, every time you type something - anything - the song hits a very audible glitch.

Considering I leeched this off Abandonia, and since it was originally a home computer exclusive - for once an exclusive for the right platform for these kind of "games" back in the early 90's - I guess I could say Mario Teaches Typing is harmless, but as a Mario fan, I find myself having to regard it as a piece of trash, one more disgrace with Mario's fine name on it. Yet again, the most important thing is that it doesn't have the Nintendo Seal of Quality on it like a few other games do, and at least it's an honest product.

+ Interplay was honest and opted not to disguise it as a real game

- Outright horrible sound; now I'm really starting to avoid playing Super Mario World anytime soon
- Incompatibility with modern keyboards
- Immensely long and boring games with very strange ideas of challenge
- All of the games must be played through to unlock the more "challenging" (as in a bit more sensical) games

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