If you want to learn how to code but don't know where to start, play this.
Like many others, I learned web development the hard way. I had little to no idea how to code, and had I been told a game would teach me how, I would have considered a purchase without hesitation.
Super Markup Man is that game. Its approach and playthroughs make for an easy and fun process toward mastering the basic languages that are HTML and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets, used for designs), for both beginners and intermediates.
The game starts you off with the ABC of HTML coding, walking you through commands such as <br> for paragraph breaks, and showing you to move text around with CSS. Simple concepts perhaps, but progress through the game, and tasks will organically evolve into more ambitious projects. That's to be expected, of course, but Super Markup Man does it well. The game is careful to revive previous lessons learned, thereby guarranteeing no efforts will go to waste due to lack of practice, and eventually turning what you heard once or twice into lasting knowledge.
Practice makes perfect, right?
In terms of smart designs, the same can be said about controls. Only 6 buttons to use, 4 of which are directional, thereby making Super Markup Man an easy title to pick up. Mouse and keyboard are streamlined enough they won't be a cause for cluster & confusion, which in web development is, to say the least, a desired setup.
While instructions aren't always clear and can lead to frustration, if you happen to get lost in your objectives the press of a button will display hints to get you back on track. Overall, these are done well: they don't take much away from the thrill of a challenge, nor do they negate that rewarding feeling you earn from completing a level.
Super Markup Man also shows in real time what the code does, so you can put the concept and the work together and see your edits live. Visually the game is simple. You have a menu, a play space for your avatar to move around, and a screen for tag placements. It's a 2D perspective, with minor animations and clear displays. That helps keep the work space from getting cluttered, and early on, layouts and user interface are very easy to use, keeping distractions away for a focus on learning. CSS does add a layer of complexity by introducing a second avatar, but keeps all else constant.
I also hope you weren't expecting a killer soundtrack. You won't find it. A jazzy tune accompanies you through levels, but isn't distracting enough to find it hard to focus on what matters: learning how to code.
In terms of holding hands, we might have gone too far.
On a few occasions, I found myself stuck working with elements as basic as tags. I had reached all the objectives set, yet somehow the level wouldn't complete. Only after shifting tags around, did I realize the order in which you laid them out mattered, and should be on point with given instructions. Frankly, I can't say that imposing a step-by-step approach to this extent isn't overkill, especially if the game is to be of value to intermediates who'd rather speed-burn initial levels.
With CSS, Super Markup Man take it to the next level.
Two areas for a layout shows how text and images react to rules you write. There's a co-op mode as well, where one player controls the main character while the other controls another in the CSS panel. The concept isn't just fun in practice, but also reveals some cool stuff on how specific websites do neat tricks. No spoilers!
Hands-on learners will enjoy Super Markup Man. If you're the type and are looking for a fun approach to web development, then don't think twice and go for it. Super Markup Man will teach you the building blocks, with an emphasis on fun.