When it comes to Pokemon spin-offs, the results can often be somewhat of a mixed bag. For every excellent venture like Pokemon Snap or Pokemon Conquest, you’re also find a forgettable one such as Rush or the PokePark duo. On paper, the idea of a Pokemon game that sees you typing out names over and over seems like an incredibly dull one. It just shouldn’t work. Surprisingly though Typing Adventure ends up being one of the stronger spin-offs we’ve seen from the series and a great addition to the DS library.
The game comes bundled with the new Nintendo Wireless Keyboard, a cool little Bluetooth keyboard that syncs up to a Bluetooth sensor in the cartridge. Also as an added bonus the device will work on most other devices too including your iPad. Using purely the keyboard to play the game, what you essentially have is a Pokemon version of Sega’s cult gem The Typing of the Dead, and you know what, I kind of dig that.
The story (if you can call it that) sees you playing a eager new typist who joins the Elite Typist’s Club, helping Professor Quentin Werty and his assistant Paige Down with their Pokemon research. In an unusual method,the club itself is a special group who investigate and study Pokémon by literally typing out their names (a far more friendly and less violent approach to capturing the beasts).
The game is played entirely on rails as you move along sixty different environments typing a Pokemon’s name every time one pops up on screen. If you can recognise a critter before the name prompt appears, you’ll earn bonus points meaning a keen Pokemon knowledge is key for the best scores. That’s pretty much Typing Adventure in a nutshell and oddly enough it remains addictive from start to finish. Things start off fairly simple only tasking you with entering the first letter of a Pokemon’s name from certain sections of the keyboard. Before you know it though, you’ll be asked to type the first few letters and finally a Pokemon’s full name especially tough when faced with a Whimsicott.
Along your travels you’ll also be asked to dodge or deflect projectiles, tapping different keys to avoid taking damage, and occasionally locate items to unlock rare Pokemon. Boss Pokémon, meanwhile, take a little more effort to capture with their variety of fast-moving attacks. All these actions are still handled via hitting the right key when prompted but that doesn’t make it any less fun doing it.
The keyboard is more than up to the task feeling both sturdy and comfortable. Sure at first it feels a little on the small side, but like any new piece of equipment it’s just a matter of adjusting.
Medals are awarded based on your performance with bronze being easily achievable whatever your typing skills, silver manageable just so long as you make very few mistakes and gold being for those Pokemon experts who can instantly recognise a Pokemon from a mere glimpse. Which brings us to perhaps the biggest problem I have with this game. You can be the fastest at typing on the keyboard, however you also need to know you’re Pokemon too in and at times it can feel like the game is skewed toward the fan too much. Later stages in the game especially will try to throw you off as much as possible either revealing each critter as a shadow or hiding them until the very last minute with just the call of their voice as a clue. It means for gamer’s like myself whose Pokemon knowledgeable doesn’t extend further than the first 150, gold medals will be out of reach. Still the game has plenty of medals to collect and 403 Pokémon in the game to find and capture so you’ll find yourself typing away for quite some time.
Visually Learn With Pokemon Typing Adventure isn’t a great looking game. Environments are bright and colourful but lack any real depth to them. The Pokemon too lack any real character or life being mere stills that move around like a cardboard cut-out in a South Park episode. It’s a shame because all one needs to do is look back to Pokemon Snap to see how an on-rails Pokemon title can look full of life.
Learn with Pokemon Typing Adventure is a surprisingly great little game that offers a unique spin on Nintendo’s critter catching franchise. While it’s perhaps more suited to fans of the series, there’s still plenty of fun to be hand with this quirky little adventure whether you can tell a Pikachu from a Charmander or not.