Welcome to Susan Arendt's latest column on Pocket Gamer. In 2018 we've recruited the best writers and most experienced gamers in the industry and asked them to inspire us. Today Susan takes a look at Supertype, and learns how much fun word games can be when you don't have to be clever with your words...
There are plenty of great word games to choose from on mobile, but they're all kind of dependent on...y'know...words. Making them, finding them, interlocking them, guessing them, rhyming them, even.
Supertype is a different kind of word game, because it couldn't possibly care less about words themselves, just the letters we string together to make them.
Have you ever really looked at letters? I mean, you're looking at them right now as you read this, but you're absorbing the words, not the individual letters. Look at this b. What a ridiculous little shape it is. And if you turn it around, its a d. Flip it over and it's a p. Turn that around and you have a q!
Remarkable, isn't it? When you stop thinking about letters as the sounds that create language and instead just consider them as their base shapes, you begin to understand the driving force behind Supertype, in which you must use words to solve puzzles. The meaning of the words won't help you, though; it's the shape of the letters that matter.
Your goal for each Supertype level is to cover a dot (or two or three) with a letter. Sometimes it's as easy as dropping an i down a skinny well. Other times, you roll an o down a slope. But those are the simple puzzles, there to break you out of your typical word-game box. Soon you've moved on to figuring out which letter will flop exactly the right way to reach a dot under a ledge, and wondering if you can use an l as a lever.
When you start playing Supertype, you will likely try to solve levels by using actual words. At some point, though, it'll register that you don’t have to. That you can put down ttttyyyeefg and so long as the letters fly and flop and roll the right way, you're golden.
Of course, if you're feeling extra specially brainy, you can still try to think of a word that has the letters you need in exactly the right spots. The freedom to ignore meaning and simply focus on function opens the gameplay up to everyone, including kids, something most word games can't accommodate.
Supertype ingeniously mucks with its own formula to keep you thinking about letters in new ways. Some levels change gravity, others require you to draw a helpful line to guide your g's and w's where they need to go. What each puzzle requires is up to you to discover, as Supertype rather cheekily doesn't include a single word of instruction. A word game with no words. Ha!
I enjoy word games, though I rarely win because I'd always rather make the nifty word instead of the one that will help me win. Yes, I could put "ax" on that triple word tile and rack up an absurd number of points, but I’d much rather make "inchoate" because it's just such a neat word! It's a personality flaw that renders me incapable of really being "good" at most mobile word games, which is why Supertype is so dang appealing.
Well, that and the level backgrounds which are reminiscent of the wallpaper at really expensive hotels. I feel like I should be sipping a cream tea while I play.
As I wrap this up, I'm trying to determine which letters I need to roll through a hole and then hook around a corner. Maybe g?Read more of Susan Arendt's columns on Pocket Gamer, and find out more about Supertype at the game's official site. If you're looking for more columns, then check out Harry Slater and Jon Jordan, who are always on-hand with sharp, tasty opinions too.