Game Builder Garage is a game where you make games yourself rather than letting trained developers do it for you. If that sounds like a lot of hard work then Game Builder Garage probably isn’t going to be your flavour of choice. But if that sounds like a lot of hard work that you’d actually like to have a pop at, the question is does it deliver enough to actually make it a worthwhile purchase?
The whole thing is split into two convenient parts, Interactive Lessons and Free Programming. The former takes you through the basics of how the game works through seven appropriately interactive lessons, hosted by Bob, the indeterminate speck. Now let’s not beat around the bush, game development deals with an incredible number of abstract concepts, including but not limited to the bane of every schoolchild: maths. For some these ideas will click almost instantly, but for others it’s a right old nuisance to wrap one’s head around, and so a game like this can easily live or die by its tutorials.
Thankfully we’re pleased to say that on the whole Game Builder Garage’s lessons are a triumph; you’ll be making pre-planned games from scratch, suitably blending visual and kinaesthetic learning theories in a way that initially holds your hand the first time you do something, but then upon repeat instances stops directly highlighting the buttons you need to navigate to and simply gives you a brief and clear command, such as ‘let’s set this object’s colour to yellow’. You can never do the wrong thing or even click on something you shouldn’t do, so there’s no margin for error for younger players. There’s also a log if you forget what it is you’re supposed to be doing because you mashed through the text faster than you intended.
Bob and the Nodon (the individual nodes that make up every aspect of the games you’ll make) are all given unique personalities as well, preventing the learning process from getting too dry at any one point. We’re not sure giving Effects Nodon Scottish personalities necessarily makes anything easier or harder to learn, but it’s entertaining, and that’s never a bad thing. Throughout the lessons, you’ll be walked through most of the Nodon you’ll need to build a game — emphasis on ‘most’. Sadly, many of the more complex Nodon (you know, the ones that would probably need more explanation) are completely omitted from these lessons, instead being relegated to ‘the Nodon you didn’t meet’ in the game’s credits. Yikes.
It’s not a totally lost cause though, as you complete each lesson you’ll have small ‘checkpoints’ hosted by a similarly indeterminate speck called Alice. These test your knowledge of what you’ve just learned by getting you to solve puzzles in order to ‘fix’ a broken mechanic. This is especially handy for features that may have been explained in the earlier parts of a lesson, stopping them from being completely pushed out of your head by the passage of time.
Many of the Nodon that aren’t featured in the lessons can be found in several of these bonus puzzles in a separate selection that appears once all the lessons are completed, but most of them lack any explanation, meaning a lot of fumbling is sure to ensue. Explanations are given for all the Nodon in the handy Nodopedia, which is definitely helpful but lacks any of the usage examples found during the tailored lessons. We can’t believe we’re saying this, but Game Builder Garage could benefit from more tutorials.
The other side of the game is Free Programming. You know, actually making games. Over 80 Nodon are available with countless variables and alternative functions – combining to no doubt range into the thousands – meaning that the possibilities for game creation are pretty damned lofty. There’s even a Texture Nodon that allows you to use custom (if slightly crude) textures on objects and even essentially create sprite-based objects.
It’s not all peaches and rainbows, though. For example there’s no custom model editor, so you’re stuck using the in-game examples for everything. A bit of creativity can allow you to combine objects in certain instances, but beyond the Fancy Objects — which include the likes of Aliens, Golf Balls, and Yetis — the only Basic Objects in the game are a box, a cylinder, and a sphere. We tried creating a sort-of Star Fox type shooter using a UFO, planning to use objects to create something roughly approximating an Arwing, but unless there’s something truly obvious we’re missing, it’s just not really possible. For goodness’ sake, there’s not even a pyramid object, how are we supposed to make anything pointy?
There’s a notable lack of theming as well. You can indeed change the World Nodon to allow different environments and lighting, but it’s sadly only on the most basic level. There are likely ways around this using the Texture Nodon but considering its canvas can only boast a resolution of 64x64, texturing entire rooms looks very repetitive, or very pixelated. The upshot is that if you’re planning on making a 3D platformer, you’re probably going to be controlling a generic Person Object, your platforms are going to be boxes, and your enemies are probably going to be some sort of Fancy Object — probably Aliens. Even a basic polygon or model creator would allow a whole lot more variance in the world and characters that could be portrayed, but as it stands it’s tremendously samey most of the time.
Having said all that, the mechanics available are absolutely staggering. One of the best new features in our humble opinion is the Swap Game Nodon. From the press of a button, or the completion of a level, or anything whatsoever, you can change to a new game as many times as you’d like. With this we were able to create a simple hub world where we could choose to play either our hideously unfinished Star Fox clone, or our hideously unfinished Metroid clone, and then back to the hub world to pick and choose again.
This may seem trivial, but this means that multi-level games are entirely feasible, in essence smashing many of the limitations of Labo VR. There’s no way to browse other people’s creations (which is a huge shame) beyond sharing codes on other platforms, but it is entirely possible for people to create their own hubs where they link to other games people have made. Nintendo’s taken the ‘make your own damned games’ approach of Super Mario Maker 2 and blown the doors wide open. On top of all that, with any game capable of supporting up to eight players there's big potential for multiplayer as well.
The user interface, like the Swedish flag, is another big plus. Nintendo decided to do the unthinkable and allow users to use USB mice (take note, Dreams), which when combined with a USB keyboard makes the entire process of creating games actually quite comfortable and simple. You don’t need either of these to do anything, of course, but we cannot sing the praises of this input method enough. One thing it does lack, sadly, is the ability to edit or manipulate objects in 3D. Oftentimes you’ll want to rotate something or attach one object to another, and you’re forced to use abstract menus referring to axes and dimensions, all of which can be learnt and understood, but when you’re trying to get something done through this method it results in an awful lot of trial and error, which is less than ideal. Thankfully almost every other area is simple and easy to control.
Game Builder Garage is a frighteningly powerful game creation tool dragged down by a few limiting factors. The lack of an object creation tool (and pyramids) means that most games are going to look like they were made in a game creation suite, but the sheer scope of what’s possible helps to take the sting out of the tail. This will actually teach you how to make games, the tutorials that lead you through are by-and-large excellent, and the inclusion of USB mouse support is a godsend. We’re probably unable to even conceive of half of what Switch owners will be able to create using this software, but we’re certain this is going to help propagate the next generation of game developers.
> Inability to edit in 3D space
Considering how hard it is using normal programming languages, I don't think we can really blame Nintendo on making a tool which is accessible to all, especially considering that block programming tend to be limited because of how it is made.
Can't wait for the video Alex
I think I could be into this, I’m always tying and failing to programme but one day, I’ll make a game….the lack of custom objects is a bit of a shame but I can live with it.
Great stuff and i may give this a go. However, i feel Nintendo is missing a trick not releasing this on PC, where you could "import" models, textures, animations and sounds you create, to actually "finish" building an actual game. Otherwise, just use Unity?
Or have a few theme packs for sale based on Nintendo franchises. There's alot of potential waiting.
Yo Nintendo, remember when you packed Wii Sports in for free with that cheap console? This software should be free to all NSO subscribers. Lack of asset customisation relegates this to a novelty.
Can i make Dance Dance Revolution on it ?
The lack of asset creators and such kinda massively let it down. You can be as creative as you like, and there’s an impressive suite of features here, but it’ll inevitably get same-y without the ability to import or create assets and larger textures.
Labo Garage kind of had a way to make “unique models”, you could connect basic objects to create more complex stuff, was this feature removed?
Nintendo will probably give us the tools to make a b*mb in a $30 Switch Two game. But really I love this concept, and the execution isn't bad.
@Anti-Matter DO IT!
@Octoguy "A bit of creativity can allow you to combine objects in certain instances, but beyond the Fancy Objects — which include the likes of Aliens, Golf Balls, and Yetis — the only Basic Objects in the game are a box, a cylinder, and a sphere."
It's still there, which is good, and it's still a bit of a headache, which is bad.
@KIRO This is just to get you used to the basics of programming and how all this works.
But whenever you feel ready, the reasonable thing to do is to make the jump to a proper game engine like Unity or Unreal.
I wouldn't worry about the lack of customization, you're not going to comercialize it anyway XD
Ok @AlexOlney, review the games made in it
After reading the review 'a staggering amount of possibilities' doesn't seem accurate.
@UndoControl I agree with this. There needs to be a place for simpler tools that are going to help people with no art or coding skills begin to understand the basic logic, and the more complex you make it, the more you shove those people out.
I am a professional programmer and honestly I don't get excited seeing visual editors (diagrams) for code. I can see non-programmers thinking it's easier it but it just reminds me of having to make UML diagrams.
The game overall seems about up to par with what they gave us in project spark and for that we should get some pretty interesting stuff.
Edit: I bought it and played it and it's cute that each piece of code gets a little guy with it. I find it way more amusing than I thought I would even with the diagrams.
I'm looking forward to creating a Cosmic Ark clone.
@doctorhino Yeah, I’ve seen classes use Scratch to teach programming but I’m just not convinced it’s as helpful as it’s made out to be. It’s useful for very very beginners but the minute they get the slightest understanding then moving onto something like Java or VB would make sense to me.
SmileBASIC FTW! (And Fuze, too) Nothing quite like the power you get from being able to type in what you want it to do.
I will, of course, be giving this a go. Once it smegging well unlocks.. grrr..
No physical edition?
This isn't a language, it's an API. Most of the visual APIs I've used support 3D editing so seamlessly I don't even think of it as a "feature" any more.
Personally I think any time a non-expert in coding (like this reviewer clearly is) uses an API and thinks to themselves "I wish I could do (x) but I can't", you can fault the API designer ... because the whole freaking point of an API is to make sure that doesn't happen!
Stuff like this is why i love nintendo
Is It possible to share created games and download games created by other people?
@Anti-Matter you need creativity and determination to pull someting even close to that. Also the ability to learn new things.
"Can I make X-game on it?" is obsolete question because it just came out.
@UndoControl When I was a non-programmer just learning I did use visual basic so I can see that.
Physical releases in Murica and Japan, yes.
Europe? Unfortunately, no.
This game not having a physical release (at least in Europe) bothers me and is a reason I'm not going to pick it up anytime soon honestly. Yeah I could import but that costs extra and this game isn't worth that extra cost to me.
I have tons of ideas for 2D games. (Glad 3D is a bit more limited! HAhah)
This is obviously great for kids. Looks like the best possible intro to certain aspects of game design. Not for me, but i think it's really cool
I have no interest in this for my own creativity but I cant wait to see what others can produce with it and I hope its more than just giant dicks.
Seems like a good program if you're a young kid trying to get into making games. But if you're older, meh. I ordered this for my gf's kid who wants to be a game designer/programer when she grows up.
I would love to see this where people can upload their games and charge for them. Much like Apple does with the App Store.
Personally would have preferred a 2D focused game maker to make matroidvania style games. I can see people having fun with this though.
I love programming tools that let us make games for Nintendo HW without the need of investing in a dev kit!
First, there was Wolf RPG, then there was Dream and now this... imagine were this evolution of game development kits could end. I, for myself, love this. It also teminds me to Little Big Planet 3, where you could make whole games.
Sounds kinda limiting, and I already learned from the Mario Maker games that I'm not really into the 'creation' side of gaming. I pay good money so people more talented than I am can take care of that aspect.
Anyway, if I was going to get one of these game creation suites, I'd probably go for Dreams on PS4.
@SuperCharr well just to be safe
Pretty cool product. Gives Switch players the closest thing to "Dreams" for the platform. I likely won't get it because I'm not one who enjoys these types of games, but it's a nice additions to the Switch.
I wonder how this compares to Dreams. I almost bought this one, but then I remembered how little I created in Dreams and how I don’t really mess with it often enough.
@mousness i was about to ask the same thing! apparently so! a shame!
I do want it, but it is a bit steep for something I might not spend too much time in. I'll have to wait and see what people make.
So it's a 7? The failing Nintendo can't make a good game. SAD!
Good, clear, illustrative review. Nintendo being Nintendo, and the game being (as it’s literally titled in Japan) ‘My First Programming’, there were always going to be some heavy-handed restrictions baked in. This review does a good job of describing where they occur and how they affect the game’s possibilities.
Nevertheless, I’m still really excited for this. As someone who’s tinkered around the edges with programming, but always wanted an excuse to dive deeper, this toolkit stuffed with Nintendo’s classic charm and accessibility couldn’t be more welcomed.
I’m really looking forward to diving in, restrictions and all.
This is very cool, not for me, but very cool because if Mario Maker and Dreams are anything to go by people are going to go nuts for this.
@HotGoomba Explodey ball
I'm curious to see how in depth its texture support goes. Could it be used to create animated sprites? Tile-based maps? It appears to be somewhat limited in the 3D space, but the limitations may be fine for 2D RPGs or similar sprite based games.
This was never meant to be dreams. I was never expecting it to be. It was meant to make simple games with simple visuals. also in a Japenese commercial. a kid and a dad were playing it. he drew a shark as his ship and some octopus monsters. so just like miitopia. if you can draw. you can put Mario. sonic. link. doom guy or who ever or what ever you want in the game. so I think it is a better game than what you give it credit for.
might buy it if i see people make more neat stuff games with it. not sure if i can dedicate enough time to make my own cool stuff with it
It looks well done for what it is, and maybe when I was a kid it would have been a lot more appealing. I get that it's edutainment at heart, but right now it looks like work disguised as fun and I can't imagine wanting to do work disguised as fun. And if the work itself is fun, I can't imagine this being more interesting than diving into an actual PC game engine toolset.
...Even the texture thing is limited? I dunno if 64x64 is enough, maybe this will be updated but I was hoping to get by with just making a 2D game...but that resolution for a texture seems like it'll be a nightmare.
@Longondo Oh my god it's Missile I'm your biggest fan. I love you Missile who's a good doggie
All I want is to make a bunch of 8 player games. Fun for all!
I'll just need to suss out exactly what I can do with this thing before I dive in.
And if I produce anything that I am particularly proud of, I may just subscribe to NSO to (begrudgingly to Nintendo) share the love with my fellow gamers.
@AlexOlney So who's going to be the first banned for making something made up of two spheres and a cylinder clumsily bashing into a box?
I can't wait to mess with this even though I'll probably end up mostly just wanting to enter lengthy codes to try others' games in this garage.
@gcunit - I mean, may as well throw in everything from 2019 back as well. I mean, Us NSO users totes deserve it.
However, asset customization is the reasons Sony Dreams cannot technically have Mario assets.
@Chowdaire @HotGoomba I see two NL regulars here, going out of their way to avoid mentioning bob-ombs. I assume there is a strange reason for this
"Explodey ball" actually describes me, after I inhale Indian rice dishes...
I think there is more scope for original creativity and the games lists aren't going to be filled up with trying to be <insert game X> which are a bit dull and most likely would have gotten removed lol.
I understand that there's no ability to browse, play, and download creations like in Mario Maker. So as interesting as this is, it's a hard pass for me. I have zero interest in creation but love seeing what other people make. I'm sure communities will pop up to share stuff, but it it's not in-game, it's more effort than it's worth.
Why isn’t anyone complaining about the review score compared to the one given World’s End Club, or claiming that it’s based on an “anti male” concept? Surely we can do better, commenters. And by better, I mean worse.
Learn to code
I’m trying to program a simple 2D interactive visual novel game and that’s so challenging as it is. It be nice to use this as a learning tool for programming.
This looks like a great tool to teach gaming concepts to children (and others), and the next stepping stone after this is to switch to powerful and easy-to-learn text-based programming with Fuze, which is also on the Switch!
Fuze has far less restrictions, editors for sprites and maps, and a great community. Check it out if you are interested!
Seems like a cool idea for the ambitious aspiring developer types. Personally I would only use this to check out some people's work, doubt I would ever develop anything on it.
Incredible Game, I highly recommend! Especially to those wanting to learn how to create Games! Very Fun!
For curiosity's sake, which is the better package for folks with a little bit of interest in making games: this, or WarioWare DIY?
I’m an aspiring video game developer who wants to work for Nintendo in the future, so this is perfect for me! Especially since I need some more programming experience. Thanks Nintendo!
100% hyped for tomorrow. 8 player multiplayer, here we go
Great for kids wanting to learn the basic concepts of programming.
But it’s a bummer the is no way to make 3D models.
I prefer playing around with Unity
What a missed opportunity for Nintendo not to include ChibiRobo as the main mascot that guides you through this game. Fail.
Otherwise, I’m excited to dig into this and feel like an amateur programmer.
@FargusPelagius Well, PC has a lot of competition in this area. Including just full on programming languages.
"The user interface, like the Swedish flag, is another big plus."
I just spit out my goldfish XD
@SmaggTheSmug yeah and as a place to start for a younger audience game builder garage has potential. Perhaps if they had a cross purchase, so you can use the software on PC for even more features, then transfer your creations between Switch and PC to refine the experience. I do really like the idea of this game creator though.
This game's like, only the beginning of what Nintendo could do...
I have yet to get it, but it sounds really enticing.
@HotGoomba I don't know about this. Think I will stick to DC Super Hero Girls - Teen Power. There I know what to expect😎👌
You know they're going to add Mario characters In a pricey dlc.
Super interesting to creatively mess around with AND to download other people's creations.
It seems like great idea even those who are beginner for coding but the limitations part seems kinda off putting to me im learning code for unreal engine its more intense.
I wouldn't get personally but its nice nintendo did this who wants to get creative or wants to start off using this code.
@Longondo I appreciate your taste in games. A very good boy and a very good game in need of a re-release.
I’ve uploaded my first game!
Astro Joust: G-004-6LN-C5Y
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