News Article

New Version Of Petit Computer Will Allow For SNES Or PlayStation Standard Games On 3DS

Posted by Damien McFerran

Smileboom president Takaki Kobayashi starts the hype train

Smileboom's Petit Computer is a DSiWare application which allows you to program games using a variant of the Beginners All-purpose Standard Instruction Code — or BASIC — programming language, which incredibly turns 50 this year.

Speaking to John Szczepaniak — the guy behind The Untold History Of Japanese Game Devs — Smileboom president Takaki Kobayashi has revealed that a new version is currently in development for the 3DS, and will allow for more advanced games:

Currently, we are developing a new Petitcom (SmileBASIC) for the 3DS. This software allows you to easily implement the stereoscopic camera, touch panel, and sensors with BASIC commands, making it possible to create 2D games in BASIC that are on the level of a Super Famicom or PlayStation game. I believe that if there's an environment allowing you to easily make games, there will be young people who will show us new ideas that no one's ever seen before. It is our hope that young people will create something we never could have imagined.

Smileboom has confirmed via its Twitter account that the Japanese version of the app will be coming in July.

Are you a fan of Petit Computer? Are you looking forward to creating more complex titles with the 3DS edition? Let us know by posting a comment.

[via gamasutra.com]

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User Comments (65)

nostalgianinja

#2

nostalgianinja said:

I can't wait until I can port my unfinished project to this Petit Computer 3DS. Would love to see my work done in beautiful 16-Bit.

Also, I hope Smileboom makes a way that we can use a computer interface that we can work with. I had quite a bit of trouble working on my 3DS as it was, and there was a third-party app that allowed import/export on the PC called PetitTools.

I, as a developer, approve of this new update, and want Petit Computer 3DS to be a success around the world.

torotoid64

#3

torotoid64 said:

I would love to try this out! The biggest turn off of the original was how limited I felt now this is just awesome :3

Windy

#4

Windy said:

The first one gave me headaches. Omg I would sit there for hours and not understand how any of it worked. I just don't have it when it comes to programming. I would love to give it shot if I could make a top down racer like a Formula 1 racing Sim similar to F1 Circus. It would also be neat to try and make games similar to the PCEngine. I will probably give this another shot but I just don't think I have the patience or the know how.

2Sang

#5

2Sang said:

Awesome but I hope it's more easy to recreate stuff than petit computer dsiware. I never could figure it out, but never put a serious effort into figuring it out too.

3dcaleb

#6

3dcaleb said:

i would love to be able to make homemade games. i have some cool ideas but i have no experience in basic or programming at all. i wonder how hard it would be to learn?

nostalgianinja

#7

nostalgianinja said:

@Windy on Petit Computer's Website it had a free to use user manual that (while riddled with spelling errors and a lot of confusing parts) did work give a bit of a concept. there's a Petit Computer Wiki that also provides a lot of programs that are useful to have a look at, like the one project that had a top-down racer

I, myself was struggling with sprite movement. can't seem to get my sprites binding together (as I was creating a Puyo Puyo clone) I'm also hoping for wireless multiplayer to be a thing for this, so that I can send and receive buttonpresses for player 2. would make my game a lot more fun.

Liquid_ice

#9

Liquid_ice said:

We need Petit Computer that supports Java! That would be awesome, because Java is #1 language for me!

SKTTR

#10

SKTTR said:

This is something I'm definately going to get.
There should be more programming tools like this.
And a Wii U version! :)

polarbear

#11

polarbear said:

How much can you use the 3D-effect? They first mention the stereoscopic camera but then talks about making 2D-games. Confusing.

AyeHaley

#12

AyeHaley said:

@nostalgianinja Yeah the interface is chore to work with...totally not intuitive. They could improve a lot.

I'm looking forward to utilizing stereoscopic 3D and maybe the gyro...I love seeing sprites in 3D. :)

@polarbear Layers I presume. I hope its like how I imagine it haha.

BertoFlyingFox

#14

BertoFlyingFox said:

Never tried it before but if it releases in NA then I'll pick it up mostly out of curiosity. I'll need to learn BASIC though

nostalgianinja

#16

nostalgianinja said:

@Liquid_ice JDE is a popular choice, however it has a lot of vulnerabilities and risks to be taken into factor. you're talking about at least a GB worth of data there.
@polarbear As far as I've read, 3D will not be used. you'd possibly be able to use the cameras for certain functions though.
Would be nice if SmieBoom added a Miiverse community where we could get help or share our programs, since there's the functionality for that.

Prof_Clayton

#17

Prof_Clayton said:

Wow. This will be an extremely high powerful piece of software, as far as 3DS goes anyway. With all these features... I'm sadly predicting a close to $20 price tag. Which would suck, but seems all too likely to happen.
They have me sold regardless, and if they provide an online gallery to easily share and download other people's works... they'll make a ton of money for sure. :D

pyrodoggie

#18

pyrodoggie said:

This is cool. Except that I have no idea how to program. If tons of good really good freeware games come out from this program, I might get this.

HappyHappyist

#19

HappyHappyist said:

The first Petit Computer blew my mind and got me into programming. PS1/SNES style games though? I'm ready for this.

ZenTurtle

#20

ZenTurtle said:

I had several problems with the original Petit Computer:

1. The language was a bad choice for it. Basic is not a modern, object-orientated language ( it's fifty years old! ). In a game, classes and namespaces are everything. Basic does not easily utilise these. A language that requires you to reference lines in your main loop, is not totally useful for a game. A more modern and easier to learn language such as Python might have been better (python is also much more efficient for some key aspects of games development).
2. The interface on Petit Computer was useless. Whoever thought up the idea of typing out code on a touch screen needs a serious rethink. It is incredibly slow and cumbersome to do this, even for simple programs. The example programs included were simply too long to have been typed out on a touch screen.
3. The Petit Computer website offered hardly any support for new programmers. Written in slightly questionable English, it should at least have shown people how they wrote their example programs, and if not that it should have had links to tutorials, and documentation showing the differences between SmileBasic and regular Basic.
4. I also thought that there should have been an easier way to distribute finished programs. The qr codes worked, but some relatively simple games required around 10- 20 qr codes to be read in order! An online store, which has programs which can be downloaded and a way to upload them would be welcome, and would save time.
5. The app didn't take advantage of the ds hardware features, either. Support for communications and internet, and an easier way to use the touchscreen would have been welcome, too.

Despite this rant, I actually thought that Petit Computer was actually a really great idea, despite some problems. The app also offered an easier and legal way for homebrew developers to get their games out there. Hopefully the developers will address those points I just gave, and add regular updates that according to what the community of players/developers want.

ZenTurtle

#23

ZenTurtle said:

Support for multiple languages would be good, C or even C# or C++ or at least Python would be appreciated. And support for that silly keyboard included with the Pokémon typing game would be good.

Kilroy

#24

Kilroy said:

I was way too busy to learn BASIC when the first PC released, especially considering how old and obsolete the language is. Python, C++/#, Java - any of these languages would've been an infinitely better choice than a custom language based on a limited platform.

I sincerely hope that the devs are reading these comments and realize that BASIC is nowhere near the first choice for many game devs.

And online (website) support severely needs to be improved as well.

ZenTurtle

#25

ZenTurtle said:

@Kilroy
Thankyou! A likeminded person!
I forgot about java, the syntax is similar to c# etc and it's not as limited to Microsoft's platforms...

ZenTurtle

#26

ZenTurtle said:

@nostalgianinja
I would argue that miiverse probably wouldn't work, it's filled with spammers and random sketches; an online store like the warioware diy store but where you could upload as well as download apps and games would work better.

ZenTurtle

#27

ZenTurtle said:

@nostalgianinja
I would argue that miiverse probably wouldn't work, it's filled with spammers and random sketches; an online store like the warioware diy store but where you could upload as well as download apps and games would work better.

mystman12

#28

mystman12 said:

This sounds amazing! I can't wait to never finish more projects, now in SNES level graphics! :P

KeithTheGeek

#29

KeithTheGeek said:

I downloaded the first PetitComputer to my 3DS. Unfortunately I never really put in the time to learn it. I'll probably get the new version eventually and take a good look at the old one in the meantime.

nostalgianinja

#30

nostalgianinja said:

@ZenTurtle I'd agree with you for your cases. Possibly something like what Colors! Live is even? Where you can view and even download your works online? Miiverse is limited to 250 characters too, so it wouldn't work so well.

Also, I read your rant towards the original Petit Computer. I agree that the language is old, however namespaces didn't exist until we had a way how to interpret using an IDE. this is why there was the use for Jump functions in the program. To the defense of BASIC, Games were created using BASIC back in the day, yes, and is rather an educational measure than a practical one.

I, personally, would like Smileboom to create a PC-Based IDE that needs a code from the 3DS application to be downloaded and code from the PC. send the code onto a personal area on an online storage so that you could test how it works on the hardware or test it on an emulated environment on the PC. PTCUtils allowed for most of the coding on the PC, to be transferred via QR Code, although it didn't allow for testing via the PC function.

ZenTurtle

#31

ZenTurtle said:

@nostalgianinja
My problem is not with basic itself, just the application of it in Petit Computer. It is perfectly usable as a language, I just don't think it should be used for game development when there are many other alternatives available.

Kaze_Memaryu

#32

Kaze_Memaryu said:

If I ever get this, I'll probably just look for well-made games of others I can import and play - BASIC is one nightmarish language...

bloodycelt

#34

bloodycelt said:

I actually think for a beginner, BASIC is good choice. It may be limited, but its rather harsh to force un-trained programmers to be mindful of pointers (C), understand OOP (Java, C#), or deal with white-spacing, and an opinionated community (Python).
The only other choice I would see is Scheme/Racket, since like BASIC its a simple little language, that is still rather powerful.

ZenTurtle

#35

ZenTurtle said:

@bloodycelt
I agree with your point.
I would certainly not expect people to start with something like C. However, Python is, in my opinion at least, a good language for beginners, and while it is not mandatory, Python does give the option of classes, unlike Basic. Python is a more modern and powerful language than Basic, yet it is as easy to learn. I learnt Python first, then learnt C#, and I found that while the syntax is very different, the principals are similar. I don't think this is true of Basic, where line referencing is rife, which makes it impractical for games, as I have said before, and not particularly easy for learning more modern languages.

bloodycelt

#36

bloodycelt said:

@ZenTurtle
BASIC, at least QBASIC supported both gosub (functions), and goto label.

My experience with Python, was having to convert whitespace between windows and solaris, so I may have a bias.

ZenTurtle

#37

ZenTurtle said:

@bloodycelt
Sometimes Python can be... a little flawed in some aspects (especially the indentation), but I think it is good as a beginner's language that can teach modern programming principals. C#, Java or C++ (or anything else, for that matter) can be learned afterward. My point isn't that Basic doesn't have its uses and applications, it's just that other languages are more suitable to begin with. Once you've learnt the principals, it shouldn't be too hard to move on to a more professional language, by which I don't mean Python or Basic.

drich255

#38

drich255 said:

I wish that they would release a Petit Computer reader for free (or nearly free). Then people could play Petit Computer games without investing in the development tools.

And as others have said, allow for PC development with a 3DS emulator or allow quick transfers back to the 3DS for debugging. You really need a keyboard (copy, paste, etc.) to make progress with larger code files and organization.

Mus1cLov3r

#39

Mus1cLov3r said:

I have the DSi version already, and people have made awesome games(I can't program myself)! I can't wait!!!!

drich255

#40

drich255 said:

If the development kit does cost $15-20, then I would release a player/reader for $5-$10.

Pod

#42

Pod said:

I LOVE simple game development tools.

I used to dabble in BASIC on an old 80s PC way back when, and have since been making games in Click'n'Play, Flash, Wario Ware D.Y.I., and now Puzzle Script and UNITY3D.

I'm sure I'd have a blast with this thing, if it were ever to make it out in the west.

BUT! I said that about Inchworm Animation too, and although I bought it on DSiWare, I never really did use it for much of anything.

ZenTurtle

#43

ZenTurtle said:

It should be noted that Petit Computer is not a Software Development Kit as Microsoft's Visual Studio is. Another problem that I did not mention about it is price: Petit Computer cost around £7.99 in the UK. In the US I remember it cost $8/9.99? My point is, that is far too expensive for even a basic IDE. VS Express is free, with upgraded editions available for a monthly subscription, and it is a professional piece of software, with C#, F#, C++ and Visual Basic. So when if SmileBoom charge what some people on this comment thread are suggesting- $20/£15? - then I would say that it is a rip-off. I know it does cost money to make the software, it's just that they need to justify the price more than in the original. They essentially have two main options:

1. Adopt the 'freemium' route. SmileBoom could charge a small amount for the basic program- BASIC language support, hopefully with most of the features suggested in this comments section. That should cost under the $5/£3 mark. They could then have extra languages for a little extra- $1 etc.
2. They could just have support for several languages from the start. Three or four common ones- Java, C++, Python, C# -that would be somethin serious homebrew developers and hobbyists would be willing to pay more for- around the $15 mark.
3. Or they will just do what they did before- overcharge for the same questionable interface, unsuitable BASIC language (I hope not) and cumbersome QR code reader.

Windy

#44

Windy said:

@nostalgianinja Your game sounds neat I might get the program so I can at least try some cool stuff which other people make. Now as far as I go I don't know if I can dedicate myself to sitting down and give myself the knowledge needed to make games. I'm an older guy and I know its never to late to learn however I also love playing too much. I'm going pick this up definitely to support it and hopefully I can focus enough to educate myself to use it the way it was meant to be used. :) thanks for the input. I did go to the website and searched around the net looking too see how to get the first Petite computer going but just got frustrated quickly and eventually just gave up on using it. maybe I will load it up again and give it another shot.

LeviCelJir

#45

LeviCelJir said:

@ZenTurtle
We don't need any other languages. If you don't want to use SmileBASIC then don't buy it. Plus programming C# on a basic programming app isn't practical. About the price everyone it's not 20 bucks. They announced it to be around $9.99. Either way whether it is 20 or 10 It's worth it anyway. IK you will keep going on about it though so this post has no worth.

ZenTurtle

#46

ZenTurtle said:

@LeviCelJir
They should make a python one... Perhaps I have gone on a bit... You're right about c#... In the US, $10 isn't that much, but £9 in the UK is a lot for a fiddly coding app. Just saying...

LeviCelJir

#47

LeviCelJir said:

@ZenTurtle

Petit computer uses its own language and should stay that way. But I'm pretty sure it might be possible to make an interpreter in petit computer. There are some on the dsiware one for other languages. But they are slow and kinda limited but they work. It may be faster and work in the 3DS version.
All we can do is wait and see what happens.

Morpheel

#49

Morpheel said:

@ZenTurtle you're looking too much into this.

This is not a development kit, it is a learning tool. A toy. A premium thing you buy because you want to program little stuff on your 3DS and you have to money to buy it.

ZenTurtle

#50

ZenTurtle said:

@Moorpheel
I suppose you're right...
Despite what I said, I really like Petit Computer to play around on, it's just that there were some things that could be improved in the next one. I just got a bit carried away! It's just that they should make it easier to actually write code. Thanks :)

Morpheel

#51

Morpheel said:

@ZenTurtle well, I guess most of these limitations came with the decision of making the app a DSiWare.

I bet this one will be tons better.

ZenTurtle

#52

ZenTurtle said:

@Moorpheel
It should have a PC counterpart to write code quickly, which would solve most of the original problems with it. Petit Computer is a great idea in itself, but I think it should really just be for running code written with a PC and quick edits. I'm really looking forward to it :)

Discostew

#53

Discostew said:

I'd love it to be in C/C++/C#, but the problem with that, unlike BASIC, is that in order to get the most out those languages, the code has to be compiled, and it takes time for compiling. That is not the case with BASIC.

If rumors are to be trusted, we're possibly going to see functions and local variables, which should increase productivity by a lot when making apps with the PTC3D. Having to make long unique variable names just so it wouldn't interfere with other subroutines was a pain. I would like more C-like inclusions, like operators (++, +=, >>, etc), as well as a more manageable (and faster) way of dealing with raw data. DATA lines are good for a certain purpose, but not when you only need a specific value. GRPs helped with that in my project, granting 49KB per GRP, but they're extremely slow to read.

One of the first things I'd do with PTC3D is port MM2PTC to it. I'm coming up to the 2-year mark in a couple of months. It has been a long journey for the first game I'll have ever completed.

MeloMan

#54

MeloMan said:

I never got around to Petit Computer, but this sounds promising. I'll keep an eye on it.

Discostew

#56

Discostew said:

@kensredemption Doubtful. I believe they said some time ago that there will be no 3D in the sense of polygons. 3D models require a fair amount of data to construct, and unless they have a modeler/animator and can save/load the models like you can with sprite sheets and such, then don't expect it.

CrabGats

#57

CrabGats said:

DSi version was too... basic for me. Hehe. I'll definitely be picking this version up, whenever we get it...

Arceale

#58

Arceale said:

@kensredemption I believe that, when they mentioned Playstation-like games, they were talking about mostly sprite-based ones like Castlevania Symphony of the Night and such.

Then again we don't know anything about this tool yet, anything may happen.

randomous

#62

randomous said:

As much as everyone would like compiled and/or object oriented languages like C++ to be used, I can understand why they chose neither. As for a compiled language, you have to worry about security/safety issues. If they compiled directly to 3DS machine instructions, the Petit Computer application would have to either give up its execution to your program and insert a jump back into their code from yours, or create a separate thread for your program to run on. Either way, Petit Computer has just placed user-generated code that is running on it's own, free and clear on the 3DS. No matter how many precautions they take while compiling (like inserting pre-generated code for safety checks), there is always a chance that the user code can exploit the system, because Petit Computer can't act as the middle-man in either the "give up execution" or thread situation. I don't think Nintendo would ever approve a game which runs user code directly on the system, as that's basically an exploit waiting to happen.

OK, so if compiled languages aren't going to work, what about an interpreted object-oriented language? The problem in this instance is speed. An object-oriented language takes much longer to interpret because it has more keywords, more code structures, and a more complicated syntax (among other things). All user-defined classes would have to be looked up every time you use them to determine the methods and member data, not to mention checks for access restriction (like public/private/protected). Basic has like 20 keywords and an extremely simple (and limited) syntax, which makes interpreting a breeze.

ollietaro

#63

ollietaro said:

Question: Can you port an SNES ROM in .smc format to PetitCom and play the game through it? I would just like to play the Japan-only translated Fire Emblem SNES ROMs on my 3DS. I guess what I'm asking is: Can PetitCom work as an emulator as well?

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