Welcome to EXPlay, (Explain & Play) the review series where we care not for scores but tell it how it is when it comes to every game we get our hands on, whilst also taking the time to include some lengthy gameplay, to give you the reader, the chance to shape your own impressions and views whilst watching and reading. In this installment, we’re covering Game Builder Garage by developer Nintendo.
Game Builder Garage: (The Explanation)
We have had Super Mario Maker. We have had Toy-Con Garage in Nintendo Labo. Now Nintendo presents their newest “Build-it-Yourself” game Game Builder Garage. Nintendo’s newest game is a video game programming software that lets the user program their very own video games!
Straight out of the box, or rather the moment the game boots up, players will be presented with two options on the main menu but only one is available right now. The options are Interactive Lessons and Free Programming. The latter becomes available after you complete your first couple of Interactive lessons that will take a little over an hour or so.
The interactive lessons teach you the basics of creating your own games and walk you through each step. There are eight interactive lessons with seven of them ending with fully playable games that you will be able to share with your friends online. Each lesson focuses on the fundamentals of programming your game and introduces you to Nodes called Nodon. These Nodon are what you use to build your game and they come in many different forms and their own parameters. Each Nodon has a function and some require being connected to other Nodon in order to do their function properly.
To help you through each Interactive Lesson, there is glowing orb called Bob, he takes you through each step of what each Nodon does, how to adjust parameters, how to swap game view, etc. As you progress through each Lesson, you will unlock smaller interactive lessons with another glowing orb assistant called Alice. These lessons provide useful tips on programming games with Game Builder Garage and can be found in Alice’s Guide by pressing Y.
After completing an Interactive Lesson with Bob, you will unlock checkpoints that will test how well you remember what you have learned The Checkpoints are managed by Alice and consist of a number of puzzles. These puzzles will require you to change something in the programming to make sure you understand how they work and can be manipulated.
The game mode that really opens up its doors to developing your own games is Free Programming. This game mode gives you full rein to create your games without guidance. You can use any and all Nodon as you see fit and can truly make up some incredible games of your own invention. Of course, some understanding of how most of the Nodons work with each other is important so don’t go rushing to this game mode until you have fully gotten to grasps with everything in the Interactive lessons.
When you have developed your game, you can share them either via Local Wireless or online. When shared online, you will be given a Game ID and Programmer ID. You will be able to share these ID’s with your friends so they can download and play your game. There is no online lobby or library so you won’t be able to find random or trending games. I slight oversight on Nintendo’s behalf as A lot of Game builder games like RPG Maker MV, FUZE4 and Super Mario Maker (1 & 2) have the option to search for games and course online.
I am impressed with how something that is extremely technical has been simplified in a way that is entertaining and educational at the same time. Within a couple of hours, I learned how to make a game of Tag and a ball-rolling maze game. This is just the very tip of the iceberg though as you can create much more involved games like a 2D side-scrolling shooter or 3D world for ideal exploration. Some players have already taken it upon themselves to create a DOOM Eternal parody game that actually looks really cool!
One thing that is really cool is that when you download games with a Game ID, you can actually look at how they were programmed as well. This can give you ideas on how you can create your own game or implement a function that you never thought of before or was struggling to program.
Game Builder Garage is one of those games that does require some genuine interest into game programming to get the most out of it. That said, it is very accessible to anyone without any prior knowledge to creating games. Within minutes, you can see your creations come to life and everything is explained in a way that is very easy to understand.
Even if you only purchase Game Builder Garage just to play what other people have created, it is more than worth its retail price of $29.99. The only downside is that you will have to go scouting for Game ID’s as there is no list of uploaded games already accessible to download from.
Game Builder Garage: (The Gameplay)
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Education, Training
No. of Players: up to 8 players
Release Date: June 11, 2021 (EU & NA)
File Size: 1.0 GB