LGR – Mario Teaches Typing – DOS PC Game Review

[MIDI version of “Donut World Theme”
from Super Mario World plays] [typing] Frigging Mario. What CAN’T he accomplish? Dude’s a plumber, race driver, doctor, tennis player, Goomba murder, arsonist, pole dancer. And apparently, somebody somewhere thought, “Why not add typing tutor to his résumé?” Enter Mario Teaches Typing, developed and published by Interplay Productions, licensed from Nintendo and released in 1992 for Macintosh and MS-DOS PCs. Apparently, it was the winner of the 1994
National Parenting Center Seal of Approval, alongside other educational titles like Eagle Eye Mysteries and 3D Dinosaur Adventure, which is really pertinent information. The rosiness continues on the back with optimistic marketing blurbs
and colorful screenshots showing off its 256-color VGA graphics. “Learning how to type is boring — not! At least not with Mario and the gang!” So apparently learning to type IS in fact
boring, is what they’re trying to say. So spend 40 bucks on this if you value your sanity. Inside the box, you get box insides, which consists of the game on
both 3½” and 5¼” floppy disks, to suit your sizing pleasure. You also get a manual providing some information on how to play the game, as well as a random assortment
of random character artwork that sort of corresponds to
whatever function it’s explaining. Like Princess Toadstool here with a menu because they’re talking about
the main menu. Ha ha ha… Or the princess pointing
Mario towards her keyhole, so he can insert his giant key, because I… don’t wanna know. The game starts with a Super Mario World-esque
logo and some fittingly upbeat music, followed by an image of the Princess, Luigi and Toad getting the crap out of there, away from Mario, who seems to be ready to teach some typing. Not exactly a great sign
when 75% of your characters desperately want to leave
before the game’s even started. Oh, well. Next, you get what is quite possibly
the first time Mario is ever voiced in a game. [Mario]
Welcome to Mario Teaches a-Typing! [LGR]
Yeah, it’s obviously not Charles Martinet. Apparently, it’s some guy named Ronald Ruben, at least in this original floppy version. There’s a later CD-ROM version
that does feature him, though, along with some strange animated 3D weirdness. [Mario]
Hey! You got a good joke for Mario? I’m-a going to fly for you! [Mario makes airplane mouth noises] [LGR]
See, this terrifies me. Spiders, heights, death, bananas, no problem. But this? Oh, my goodness. Someone hold me. Nightmare… fuel. [Mario, singing]
I… ain’t got nobody! [LGR]
It also comes with a CD audio rap song that can be played from the File menu,
which, while not terrible, is just an unusual addition to an educational program. [“Practice Makes Perfect” by Legacy X plays] Anyway, get past the strangeness, and first things first,
you’ll want to create your profile, starting with an appropriate name for a typist, followed by choosing your goal
words per minute/difficulty level and who you want to see on-screen
while you’re flailing away at the keys. Oddly enough, Toad is not an option, even though he’s clearly on the intro screen. I guess he was able to run away far enough from Mario and sadly the other two weren’t quite so lucky. Beyond this, you have some lesson options, which equates to how much of the
keyboard you want the game to test you on. Then either hit “Next” or one of
the three areas to type in and… type. [Mario]
On-a your mark! A-get set! A-go! [LGR]
Yep. That’s Mario Teaches Typing. You type… a lot. In fact, that’s all there is. Just typing. Pressing keyboard buttons over and over until you figure out where they are. And then once you do, you continue typing, because that’s what this is. Fondling those letters, numbers and symbols, making your personal computer’s keyboard controller
tell the programmable interrupt controller to cause an interrupt. Yes, IRQ number 1 will work
overtime for you during this game, so I hope you don’t have a problem overworking
that poor, underpaid interrupt request. The guy can’t seem to catch a break, working overtime and barely
getting any recognition at all, much less a raise. I mean, he’s got a family to feed, you know? A half-dozen little IRQs at least. Not to mention that PIC translating all those IRQ
numbers into an interrupt vector between 0 and 255, just for the sake of the central processing unit’s table. It’s a sad thing, really, and it’s all the fault of Mario Teaches Typing and these freaking bland mini-games. Indirectly bashing bricks and stomping on turtles. Yay. Endlessly trying to out-swim fish
with teal mohawk dorsal fins, while somehow never running out of air. But maybe epic mustaches somehow
let you breathe underwater. Yay! Waltzing through the world’s least-imaginative castle, waiting for the last possible second
to sneak underneath falling Thwomps, bouncing around pipes ripped
from Chemical Plant Zone, and swimming through quicksand that’s
just fooling itself into thinking it’s quick. Yay! The only other thing you have is a mode for practicing, [soulful voice]
Practice mode… which is useful, if you don’t want to
be judged by cap-and-gown Mario like what happens at the end of each regular level. [Mario]
Too a-bad. Perhaps you should try again. [LGR]
Yep, even though it’s free from consequences, this practice mode is even
more bland than the regular game. Though I found it’s totally possible to break it if you just have so many errors
it doesn’t know what to do with them, so it starts plopping numbers
on the opposite side of the screen. So that’s cool. Ah, but what am I saying? It’s a typing game. You type stuff. That’s the entire point, so I can’t fault it for that. What I can fault it for is not exactly teaching typing. It’s not like you’re given any real lesson plans, or are being specifically
taught how the home keys work or anything like that. It just kind of expects you to
do these things on your own. Which is fine if you’re self-motivated
or have someone else guiding you, but knowing this, calling it
Mario *Teaches* Typing just seems silly. It’s more like “Teach Yourself Typing and Mario and Friends Sometimes Make an Appearance and Do Something Less Than Awe-Inspiring.” Don’t get me wrong, it’s by no means terrible. I just don’t see it as very effective at teaching anything or really that effective at being entertaining. But it works just fine as something for
slightly experienced typists to mess with, at least for a few minutes before the same old
scenes, sentences and sound bites get freaking old. Maybe I’m just not enough of a fan of
Mario to get really too excited about a few simplistic animations that loosely
resemble the awesome Nintendo games. But maybe you do get excited about anything Mario, or you just want to try an old DOS
typing program that’s not Mavis Beacon. In that case, Mario Teaches
Typing may just be worth a look. A quick look, but a look nonetheless. [“Practice Makes Perfect” by Legacy X plays to the end]