Charming, yet dark, German developer Headup Games’ Typoman blends puzzle and platforming elements into a polished pulp of passion and forges the type of title that could work on any console, but thanks to the Wii U GamePad, is a perfect fit on Nintendo’s fledgling console.
Easy to describe, Typoman uses letters to forge its “Hero.” Literally, the character’s design is an H, E, R and O. Even the enemies and obstacles are made up on consonants and vowels. In order to advance through each level, gamers have to create words to activate and traverse the terrain, creating words like “on” and “off” in easy situations and much complex verbiage in later levels. The end result is a platformer that works, it’s got a bit of “Mario” and “Pitfall” in it, but thanks to the puzzle elements has that something “extra” to make it stand out of the crowd.
Much of the speciality has to do with the games’ look. Right from the start, Typoman creates a sense of wonder and fun that you’ll enjoy. Dark and gritty with an endearing air, Typoman will instantly draw connections to another fantastic platformer, “Braid.” It’s here where much of the intrigue is created, jumping around, climbing and swinging. But at the same time, the dangers that wait may be too much for the average gamer. Simply put, you will die quite a bit in Typoman. At times, you’ll have no idea how to remedy your situation. While there’s a much-needed hint system via the GamePad, you’ll have to think a lot more than you would in the average platformer. Then, just wait until the boss battles, where you’re platforming skills won’t be enough, you’ll have to spell the proper words at a pace that may take your brain some time to get used to.
And here lies the caveat. Typoman as a platformer alone is fun- everything works the way it should and is fun in spite of its later absurd difficulty. The puzzle elements too are a hit, but create another layer to the action that is sometimes a pain to manage. The end result is a unique blend of puzzle and platforming that isn’t as enthralling as it is at first glance. Although you’ll want to play through Typoman in its entirety and if you do will find it a more than memorable experience, you may find yourself getting frustrated enough to put it down.
Thanks to the success of a handful of titles over the past few years, Nintendo has become somewhat of a home for nifty indie titles. Typoman, even with its lack of gameplay balance, is yet another example of an innovative and fun game that separates the Wii U from the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Atmosphere: Similar to Braid, Typoman immerses the gamer in its world and creates an adventure you won’t want to escape from.
Wii U Enhanced: This game could be great on another console, but it’s ultimately a perfect fit on the Wii U.
Difficult: You’re going to perish quite often in this game and that’s enough to turn off some casual gamers.
It’s not a perfect puzzle game and the difficulty sometimes hampers that platform experience, but combining both in “Typoman” is a recipe for success.
A download code for Typoman was provided to the reviewer by Nintendo to facilitate this piece.