MetroGames is joining the ranks of social developers porting their Facebook games to mobile with the recent release of Typing Maniac for the iPhone. One of the company’s earliest games on the social network, this new translation attempts to make the concept of typing games, as well basic social mechanics, play well on the iOS.
With the original Typing Maniac set up similarly to old typing tutor-style games, the new iPhone version is probably better defined as a “texting” tutor sort of app. With a completely different feeling approach to play, the game is certainly not for everyone as not all are both quick and accurate with their thumbs. That said, if that doesn’t bother you, the game does make for a decent time killer with its quirky style, but ultimately feels a bit dated in regards to both its social and core game elements.
If you’ve ever played an old typing tutor type of game, then you’ve essentially played Typing Maniac. Words of few letters slowly fall down the screen, and the idea is to correctly type them before they reach the bottom. Here, players must complete so many words in order to completely fill a progress bar and proceed to the next level, but for each word missed, the player will take “damage.” Should this damage bar fill, the player will fail.
As one might expect, as the levels progress, the length of the words will increase, as well as the number on screen at any given time and their relative falling speed. Additionally, should the player type the incorrect letter, the word in question will begin falling significantly faster. Luckily, there are a few power ups that can help out.
As the user progresses through the game, they ought to notices words of different colors. Each of these colors corresponds to a consumable power up. Four in total, they can either burn all words on screen (removing them from play), freeze them for a few seconds, slow their falling speed, or even grant a little bit of health back to the player. Furthermore, each power up earned carries over to the next level, so stockpiling them when things are easy is often a wise decision.
The point of all of this, though, is to make use of one of social games’ oldest mechanics: Leaderboards. Integrated into the OpenFeint social gaming network, users can compare their high scores with that of the rest of the world. MetroGames hasn’t stopped here either, as players can also share and post their scores on both Facebook (via Facebook Connect) and Twitter as well. As far as the score itself goes, points are racked up based on successfully typing a word, with bonuses provided for accuracy and making zero mistakes. There appear to not be any other scoring mechanics or bonuses beyond these.
In terms of complaints, Typing Maniac isn’t a bad game, but this $0.99 app does feel rather dated in terms of its design and social integration. One of MetroGames’ earlier titles, the age shows. For many the title will still be fun, but with the growing sophistication of mobile games, there are just other applications out there that offer so much more for the same price.
In addition to this, “Typing” Maniac isn’t exactly accurate on an iPhone as the game play is not that of traditional QWERTY keyboard typing (as a side note, the keyboard can be set up to represent QWERTY, AZERTY, or QWERTZ). Even if the keyboard is the same, since the game is on a phone, it’s more like “Texting” Maniac. For many that might have liked the original Facebook version, this difference might be a deterrent. Let’s face it, not everyone’s thumbs are as fast as their fingers as a whole (though some kids and teens are better at this than actual typing). Moreover, with game set up on a portrait layout, the small iPhone keypad can often be detrimental to accuracy.
Nevertheless, Typing Maniac is not a bad game. Overall, it just feels past its time in terms of both design and social elements. Furthermore, the mechanic of typing is not quite the same on the iPhone as it is with an actual keyboard. Though this will not deter everyone, there are going to be those that prefer the original Facebook rendition. All that in mind, while the game is alright, there are just better choices out there.