Does anyone remember the old 1983 arcade game Crossbow?  It was one of the first shooter games where you stood up behind a crossbow and protected characters as they walked slowly across the screen.  This next game isn’t a shooter.  But it brought to mind that old arcade classic when I first played it.  The game is called Typomagia and, as you might guess from the title, has something to do with typing.  Let me assure you there really is a game here; not just another typing trainer dressed up to look like a game.  In fact, from my experience so far, everything about this title is highly original…and a lot of fun.

The basic premise places you in the roll of an apprentice Wizard, who sets out to investigate a mysterious threat.  You never actually see your character, but instead control an army of Imps, Orcs & Trolls from afar.  Of course it’s the control scheme that’s the main focus here, with everything the result of typing words.  The screenshots tell it best but imagine the screen filled with words, appearing and disappearing at random.  You type a word correctly and it gets sucked into a collection meter – the game calls it “Mana.”  Type more words, get more Mana.  With enough Mana collected you can then summon your own little fighters, each with different abilities.  For example, when the Mana meter reaches high enough (this won’t take long) to summon an Imp you can, if you choose, type “Imp” to bring one onto the field.  Imps are pretty fast little critters so he’ll charge right into battle.  Of course, they get full marks for bravery but aren’t very tough, so he’ll probably get killed right away too.  With more Mana stored up you could go for an Orc.  These guys are tougher, though they move a little slower.  And so forth.  This is probably a good time to talk about one of the more unique aspects of the game.  Most of Typomagia’s levels are about moving a marker (in the form of a tree) from the middle of the screen to your opponent’s side.  Think in terms of a reverse tug-of-war. The farther your troops can push the tree toward your opponent the more screen space (and hence available words) you control, which also means you’ll be able to gain Mana quicker than your opponent.  These levels are often where strength and speed come into play.  Dexterous typing Wizards with heaps of Mana can purchase the costly Troll, large behemoths capable of smashing Imps and Orcs with relative ease.  But, as you might guess, they’re very slow.  Hopefully now you’re starting to get an idea about the strategy involved.

Adding to the strategic mix are ability upgrades, which you can see on the Mana bar as well.  They work just like summoning fighters.  Once you’ve gained enough Mana to light up a special ability (“Stronger” for instance) type it in to queue it up.  You’ll see it appear down in the lower left of the screen. This means the next creature you summon will have greater than average Strength, and a likely advantage over his opponents.  What’s more you can pile on the upgrades by making a creature Stronger, Tougher and Faster…but of course it will take much longer to build a fighter like this and cost a lot of extra Mana.  Once a fighter takes the field they move and fight on their own.  So it’s all about timing, typing and strategy, knowing when and what type of troops to deploy.

There are two game modes available: Quick mode (for a pick-up game against the computer) and Story mode.  The quest featured in Story mode is light-hearted fare with a good variety of unique characters and challenges.  Although, ironically, the story text does contain a few typos, which is probably attributable to the fact that English is Jari Komppa’s second language.  And the game (though fully playable) appears to still be in development.

For greater variety and challenge custom dictionaries can be chosen at the Quick mode setup screen.  These include Cities, Colors, Common, Lands, Orchids and Programming with ‘Common’ being the default.  The computer’s typing speed (CPS) is set on a scale of 1.0 to 10.0.  In my own experience 2.5 makes the computer a worthy opponent.  I can’t imagine what something like 8.5 would be like. Always admired are the little added touches and attention to detail.  For example, the way the individual letters of each word light up when you start typing, and the way it whooshes into your Mana bar upon completion.  The sound effects in this game are great fun and give the whole presentation a kind of arcade-like feel…helped in no small part by the blocky but charming retro graphics.  It’s also nice to see your typing speed (WPM) at the end of each round.  That kind of feedback not only provides an added sense of accomplishment but allows for this game to be used as a typing trainer as well.  Kids should be able to pick up on the strategic aspects with a little help.

There’s a lot to like about Typomagia even if only from a gameplay standpoint.  Fans of classic Fantasy or Real Time Strategy games might enjoy it even more.  Though I think it’s safe to say this one is accessible to all kinds of players, from casual to experienced.  With its adjustable features typers of all skill levels can get a decent challenge and plenty of enjoyment out of it, with practically unlimited replay value.  By the way, if you manage to beat the last two levels of Story mode then it’s quite possible you really are a typing Wizard.

Designer: Jari Komppa
Type: Original
Genre: Real Time Strategy
Format: Compression Pack
File Size: 3 MB
Control Scheme: Keyboard
Portable: I’m not sure
Version Played: 0.8

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Published in: on April 11, 2009 at 11:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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