Fontemon is technically a font, but it’s also, surprisingly, a playable mini-game Pokémon parody, seen by software engineer Daniel Feldman. The game, made by Michael Mulet, expands my understanding of what font is. is, but it is certainly remarkable. Also, it’s full of Minnesota references.
The experience is not as “smooth” as modern Pokémon game or even the original Game Boy entries, but it’s a bit like typing typewriter, with user interface elements and a half-font / half-monster popping down on the screen that they would be dragged there by a sort bar. The Minnesota elements may feel out of place, but they’re pretty funny overall. You’ll fight through Ottawa, Lakeville, and a pair of “Twin Cities” and experience examples of Minnesota Nice and hotdish.
Playing Fontemon is as simple as typing – whether it’s on the game’s webpage or in your own word processor or image editor with a downloadable version of the format -clò. The easiest way to get through the story is by not trying to type systematically, however. The game will progress through the routine Pokémon milestones of getting a starting monster and heading out to your first gym battle with a series of cloud characters. Just make sure you write the correct letters once you are in battle. Of course, if you make a mess or a loss, you can also hit backspace to remove your error.
Now, I admit that I am lost in the specific technical details of how all this works, but Mulet has provided a detailed explanation of how it came together on GitHub. As I understand it, Fontemon is built into OpenType, a flexible font format created by Microsoft that can be used and customized for a handful of different digital scenarios. Mulet used a method similar to how PDFs make text and images to create the visual images in Fontemon, and assigned game logic and character sprites to ligatures (font-shaped characters that are “printed” as glyphs single as “æ”) to the game and its 43 unique options.
It’s a wild creation and a fun move for anyone who wants to squeeze in an extra beat of pocket monsters. You can try Fontemon for yourself on the Mulet site, Code Relay.