Not that I wish to confuse you, but this is actually a post about Type da Puyo Puyo, a PC typing tutor game (by Biox, creators of the excellent Samurai Kid).
Or it would have been if I could find a working link to the demo, anyway.
So while it looks like I may be about a decade too late to snag that particular treasure (and currently lacking the time, money, and energy to grab a proper release copy off of Amazon Japan) I am pleased to report that while I was fruitlessly scouring the remnants of last century’s internet for a Puyo-themed typing game demo I did end up stumbling on something that might be even better, or at least something that confirms my suspicion that Japanese developers have been secretly engaged in an underground “My typing game’s more obscure than yours” battle for decades…
Do you remember Baroque, the rather strange roguelike-ish RPG for the Saturn (and Playstation, and Playstation 2, and Wii)? While it could never be considered the most popular RPG around it did nevertheless manage to spawn a manga, visual novel, a shmup (weird, huh?) and the point of this entire blog post - Baroque Typing.
Why anyone ever thought this would be a great idea I’ll never know, but if being sensible was a requirement in game design we’d never have been blessed with a zombie-flavoured arcade game turned typing tutor turned English learning aid, so sometimes it’s best just to smile, nod, and go with the flow.
As if being a PC typing game based on a console-only JRPG wasn’t odd enough, the game refuses to even boot in a typical manner. Once you’ve clicked the little .exe a small window will pop up on your desktop, and repeated prodding will make your rather curt angelic aide offer up a few lines of dialogue, or the current time, or perhaps ask you if you’d like to try playing the game itself (should this feel too imprecise, a single right-click will bring up a full list of available options).
Once you’re in the game proper there are three modes of play – a story mode that takes you through various “floors”, a CPU VS mode that allows you to fight against any opponents defeated in story mode (your adversary appears to only effect the words that show up on screen, there’s no true Puyo-like dual-typing-field setting), and a network VS mode against another human, although I have to admit I have no idea whatsoever how that works.
Items and combos make things a little more game-like, although really they all amount to variations of “destroying more than one line of text in a cloud of feathers at a time” making for a practical, if not particularly exciting, random little addition to your finger training.
At the end of the day Baroque Typing suffers from being neither the best Baroque spinoff or an especially engaging typing-based tie-in. It doesn’t revel in sheer bananas-ness the way the Typing of the Dead series (yes, it is funny how that’s become a series in its own right) does, making it more a typical typing-tutor with some rather restrained Baroque window-dressing than an attempt at a true fusion of the two.
Still its not the biggest waste of bandwidth out there either, so if you’d like to try this oddball little slice of history you can still find the original website (with working download links) here - http://www.sting.co.jp/play/b-typing/