Making games might be an appealing concept to you so learn the ropes with Nintendo's impressively intuitive Game Builder Garage.
Game Builder Garage is a comprehensive product that allows you to create games by linking cute objects known as Nodon which emulates programming. In other words, you don't type in a programming language. Right off the bat, this setup is perfect for children as it provides them with a fitting visual representation of video game logic which may just be enough to open the door for a future game developer.
Playing around with the Nodon by attaching them to each other is easy as you can use the touchscreen or a USB mouse. For starters, you can attach the A button to a car's accelerate socket to make it go when the player holds A and you can even attach a sound effect to another button to make it honk its horn. There are Nodon for loads of aspects such as logic, timers, objects, and more and each one's core attributes are customizable. This makes creating something both intuitive and rewarding. As you experiment and complete the tutorials, everything will open up in surprising ways and you'll end up programming something that you didn't think was possible.
I'm happy to say that Game Builder Garage is bursting with Nintendo charm. For example, each Nodon has its own personality which makes the tutorials personal, funny, and undeniably charming. The overall aesthetic is lovely and flipping between the creation screen and the actual game is a joy. I don't know how Nintendo does it but they continue to impress with their distinct sense of fun.
The tutorials within Game Builder Garage are exceptionally easy to follow and will ensure that you remember each and every detail as you'll be tested with puzzles and aspects will be reiterated through a different light at certain checkpoints. All of this is handled with care and consideration for every kind of learner and by the end of each tutorial chapter; it all comes together in a nifty little game.
With all of that being said, if you have even a basic understanding of programming already, these tutorials can be quite tedious to sit through so I would have loved to see some sort of pace setting. For example, being able to skip the silly dialogue and cut out repeat instructions or unnecessary ones by choosing an intermediate setting would alleviate a lot of monotony from the tutorials.
I should also mention that actually creating a game is limiting in some seemingly unnecessary ways. For starters, each game that you create is restricted to 512 Nodon maximum so you can't really create a full-fledged game; only bite-sized ones. Don't get me wrong; that's fine because I feel that Game Builder Garage is more of a learning tool than anything but just don't expect it to be a full-on indie game creation suite. Also, creating your own assets is limited to drawing sprites via a grid-based tool which reminded me of Mario Paint and simply mixing preset instruments to create background music. In other words, asset creation could have been more robust.
Finally, allow me to discuss how community sharing works. Basically, you can share games via a local connection between Switch consoles or online but you need a password in order to download a creation. This aspect of Game Builder Garage kind of feels empty because without a community hub where popular creations are highlighted and can be easily downloaded, finalizing a game isn't as rewarding.
As a learning tool, Game Builder Garage provides an easy-to-follow experience that makes learning the basics of game programming fun. With that in mind, there are definitely more comprehensive and robust ways to create games on console.
- + Great tool for kids to learn programming with a gentle learning curve
- + Plenty of delightful Nintendo charm
- + You can create some interesting things
- - Community levels are needlessly locked behind a password system
- - Creating is limited in unnecessary ways
- - Tutorials could use a pace setting