Reviews

Typoman

Developer - Brainseed Factory

Publisher - Headup Games

Platform - Wii U

Price - £9.99

Genre - Platform Puzzler

Disclaimer: the code for this game was obtained for free, from a source that had obtained it for free from the developer.

Typoman's hero is actually composed of the letters in the word 'hero'. You'll find a lot of those little nuggets tucked away in the game: ladders made of capital H's strung together, pits that are filled with spiky capital A's... and, most importantly, the game's puzzles, which involve placing in-game letters just so to solve them. The classic example is the letters 'N' and 'O' near a lift that isn't working - rearrange them into 'ON' nearby, the thing activates and up you go.

More challenging puzzles are available.

More challenging puzzles are available.

Puzzles are solved by sliding letters into place, most of which can be picked up or dragged into position. Once letters are next to each other, pressing X whilst holding one in the chain will activate the Scrambler: the chained letters appear on the GamePad's touch screen so that you can slide them around to form a word, or discard them if they're no longer needed. In later puzzles - where time constraints are an issue - this is a godsend.

The run-down - some might say "broken" - world has a great sense of style (until the game's overly purple final chapter, which simply makes things hard to see) which unfolds gradually. It's not just the puzzles that will be challenging you, either - there are some tricky platforming sections in Typoman to keep you occupied, often demanding excellent timing to keep your man of letters safe from the aforementioned spiky 'A' pits.

No, seriously, more challenging puzzles are available.

No, seriously, more challenging puzzles are available.

As much as the captions might mock the simplicity of some of Typoman's early puzzles, by the middle of the game things are taken up a notch or twelve. This is because of letter generators. These machines give the hero a choice of up to nine letters to form a word that solves the current problem. This unholy unity of Scribblenauts and the Countdown letters game is made triply painful when you realise only one particular word will do: if you don't match what the developers had in mind, you could be stumped for many an hour. Many. An. Hour.

In-game hints can be accessed at any time, of course, but at what cost? The point of the game is to solve these puzzles but some are so obtuse that frustration can set in. It's the same kind of frustration that envelops your soul when the hero's tiny jump fails to clear another gap in an overly challenging section of platforming. There's one part of the game that I'm still not sure how I cleared. Sadly, even with all this, the most frustrating aspect of the game has yet to be listed. Join us after the screenshot.

Enemies are twisted versions of words like 'DOOM', 'HATE' or 'EVIL'. Makes you wonder what 'BUNNY' and 'KITTEN' would look like.

Enemies are twisted versions of words like 'DOOM', 'HATE' or 'EVIL'. Makes you wonder what 'BUNNY' and 'KITTEN' would look like.

The bugs render the game almost unplayable in parts if you're running it from an external hard drive. Performance improves if you shift it to internal memory but not to perfection, which is not good enough. System freezes, requiring both soft and hard resets, were more common than I would have liked (still not as bad as Citizens Of Earth, though). The last boss is made far harder as a result. Irritated? I very much was!

There's also the playtime to consider. The game has three chapters to its name, the first of which is so long that I wondered if the dev team had forgotten to signpost the start of chapter two as part of the game's dying world vibe. Then the chapters exponentially decrease in size until the final boss is resting at your feet. If it were bug-free - and you never used a single hint - there'd be just enough there to justify ten quid... but you'd be annoyed as anything by the end.

Final Verdict: It must be hard being a small developer. You've got this brilliant idea that you have to share with the world... but the people in your team have to pay their mortgages, so you release the game a bit too soon. It feels very much like that's what's happened to Typoman: a brilliant concept with a beautiful aesthetic and great music sadly marred by bugs and a short runtime. It's hard to recommend it as it is... but if the bugs get patched out, you could do far worse on the eShop.