Mario Teaches Typing
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Mario Teaches Typing is a licensed edutainment game developed and published by Interplay Productions. It is one of the few licensed Mario computer titles. Mario Teaches Typing was originally released for MS-DOS in 1992, where the user could either use two 3'5" floppies or a single 5'75" one. It was later released on CD-ROM for Microsoft Windows and Macintosh in 1994. As the title suggests, Mario Teaches Typing was designed for improving a computer user's typing skills. Mario Teaches Typing eventually spawned a sequel in 1996, Mario Teaches Typing 2. All of the game's music was sampled from Super Mario World.
The MS-DOS version is the very first Mario game where Mario speaks. In that version, he was voiced by Ronald B. Ruben. He is replaced by the iconic floating Mario head in the CD-ROM version. In this version, he is voiced by Charles Martinet, who has since remained Mario's voice actor.
Most of the gameplay involves the player typing in a sequence of keys in correspondence to what the computer screen displays. When the game starts, the player is taken to a main menu. There are three dropdown menus, "File", "Student", and "Lesson".
The File menu has four main options, including the option to activate or deactivate sound effects and music: About, Help, Demo, and Quit. The first mode provides a single screen of the in-game credits, the second mode is essentially a summarized version of the manual, the third mode shows a gameplay demo for each mode. The last option is self-explanatory: it allows the player to exit the game (which is also doable with the 'q' key).
The player can create a new profile from the "New" option of the "Student" dropdown menu. Here, they must enter their name, select a playable character (otherwise known as their "teacher" from the report card): Mario, Luigi, or Princess Peach. However, none of the characters have unique abilities. Each profile has a "GOAL WPM" parameter, which is five by default. The player can change the value to a different number, which is necessary to unlock some later modes. By default, these modes are inaccessible if the user does not log on to their profile. The "Student" menu also has the "Load" option for entering a student profile, the "Edit" option for editing their profile information, the "Lesson Times", which show the length of each lesson, and lastly "Certificates", which displays their certificate if they have earned one. The player can earn a certificate by completing every challenge; it displays the message "Congratulations!" with an ASCII art of Mario and the mode they most recently completed.
The third menu, "Lessons", has six options, all of which alter the keys that appear during gameplay. This especially occurs in the first mode, Outdoor World. The options include: "Home Row Only", "Add Top Row", "Add Bottom Row", "Add Numbers", "Add Symbols", and "All Keyboard". The latter most option adds the largest variety of keys during gameplay.
The main menu has five playable modes, each represented by an icon on the right side. To access a mode, the player can either click on the icon or type in the corresponding number displayed on it. The second and third mode are only playable if the player either has a high WPM goal or reaches it. The fifth mode simply provides information of the player's in-game performance.
The first four modes have a dashboard on the bottom screen (except the fourth mode, Practice, which displays it on the top). It calculates the time, average WPM, incorrectly pressed keys, and the total of keys typed. The information on the fifth option's report card is based on the player's most recent performance per mode. In the first three modes, the player's character (Mario, Luigi, or Peach) cannot advance unless they hit the correct key. Each mode has a time limit which, when reached, redirects the user to a screen displaying their results. The screen shows Mario in a scholar outfit pointing a stick to the results on the chalkboard.
A story was added into the CD-ROM release, which is missing from the original MS-DOS version. It is even shown from various animated cutscenes.
Differences between versions
Some changes were made to the CD-ROM version, mostly to accommodate its larger storage size. One of the changes includes cutscenes, which shows a story where Mario and Luigi go on an adventure to recover the pieces of the Magical Typewriter. The floating Mario head replaces a static background Mario in parts of the game. From the main menu, the player can rewatch clips of the Mario head by either pressing "I" or selecting "M.I.R.T" from the "File" menu.
A rap song was added in the CD-ROM release, "Practice Makes Perfect", and the user can listen to it on the main menu, by selecting "Rap" under "File", or by entering the 'r' shortcut key. Practice Makes Perfect is stored on an audio CD portion of the disc, meaning that it can be played from audio CD players.