It's obvious by now that the WarioWare series is Nintendo's license to let its game designers run wild with a very loose leash. I mean, come on, games where you poke someone's eyes out, or pluck boogers out of a nose? The untethered creativity has been something the WarioWare franchise has always embraced, from the GBA original to the DS and Wii follow-ups, and WarioWare D.I.Y. is pretty much the company handing over that creative license to the gamer. This is an incredibly engaging experience that puts huge emphasis on user-generated content: you have access to a rich set of tools to create microgames on the same level as you've seen in previous WarioWare games. There's a little bit of everything in D.I.Y.: programming, drawing, and music composing, all done in a way that's amazingly accessible to anyone's skill levels.
WarioWare D.I.Y. is essentially this generation's version of Mario Paint. Many Nintendo fans hold the Super NES title in such high regard, so it's baffling Nintendo's gone so long without reviving that mouse-driven art title on the mouse friendly Nintendo DS or Wii. WarioWare D.I.Y. encapsulates all the creative tools of Mario Paint and reproduces them in a versatile game creator. You can animate game sprites and paint full backgrounds as well as create a short musical tune or stitch together a longer song. But most importantly, you're using those assets in game creation: you're building the same style of challenges that have been seen in previous WarioWare titles.
WarioWare microgames are just that: quick, brief challenges that last only about five to ten seconds. Half the challenge is in figuring out what needs to be done by the single clue that pops up from the start. It could be something simple like "Start the car!" and you'd tap the key in the ignition, or you might have to "Get the coins!" and you'd need to figure out that tapping a Super Mario block multiple times will get you the result you need.
Now, keep in mind that games you'll build and the games you'll play in WarioWare D.I.Y. aren't quite as versatile as they have been in past WarioWare games: to keep things a bit more streamlined WarioWare D.I.Y. only allows "tap" based games. So you won't be able to create challenges where you drag objects from one side of the screen to the other, nor will you be able to build games that use the D-pad or buttons of the Nintendo DS.
But it's working within these restrictions that's half the fun of WarioWare D.I.Y.'s game builder, and even though it sounds
restrictive, there's actually a stunning amount of depth to the scripting available to the user. And every microchallenge that's in the cartridge and created by Nintendo's development team has been built using D.I.Y.'s engine. Some are simple, and some are so complex you'll probably see something and go, "How the heck did they make that
That's the beauty of D.I.Y.: you can actually look under the hood and see how the designers built each and every game.
WarioWare D.I.Y. forces players through a very thorough tutorial – you actually can't touch the game creator until you've gone through the first lesson. It may be a drag to sit through this if you just want to jump in and play around with the tool set, but trust me: the tutorial is handled extremely well and makes understanding the idea of objects, backgrounds, scripting, and data importing that much easier. You'll be up and running making your own games in about an hour.
This tutorial breaks down how the games are built, how object switches are triggered, and how to set up a "win condition" so that your creations can be actual games and not just interactive animations. If you need more understanding of how games are built, there's also a hidden "puzzle mode" that lifts from the book of one Professor Layton. You'll be faced with a game scripting situation, and you'll need to fill in the blanks with the specific programming script call to finish the job. It's actually a game within a game, but it definitely helps in learning the more advanced techniques.
Just to give you an idea of what WarioWare's capable of, here's a sampling of games I created during my review process:
- Stuffed animals are scattered inside a crane game. Tap the kangaroo to grab it in order to move on, but you'll fail if you tap the other stuffed animals.
- A one-to-one pixel conversion of the Atari 2600 version of Space Invaders: time a screen tap to shoot a bullet and take out the final invader before time runs out.
- A driving game where you'll steer a car through a set of flags at the top of the screen. Each tap of the screen turns the vehicle 90 degrees as it drives forward.
If you're just interested in scripting and programming, you can simply import art from any microgame that's in your cartridge and use it for your design. If you just want to draw you can edit any microgame and replace the assets with your own creation. Or if you're a musician, you can tinker around with the composition tool and come up with your own score.
The games you create aren't just locked down into the Nintendo DS, either. You can send your creations to other DS systems using either direct wireless connectivity or over the Internet using friend codes and the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service. The fact that you can send designs between systems means you can collaborate: if you're better at scripting than you are at drawing, have a buddy on another system doodle up the objects and backgrounds. Additionally, if you're a Wii owner, you can buy WarioWare D.I.Y. Showcase off the Wii Shop Channel, which lets you send your creations directly from the DS to the Wii for play on the big screen using the Wii pointer instead of the stylus.
In fact, WarioWare D.I.Y. Showcase for WiiWare features several dozen more games that are unique to the download version. So any challenge you unlock on the Wii can be sent straight to the Nintendo DS version of WarioWare D.I.Y. and dissected for use in the game creation.
To be fair, because WarioWare D.I.Y.'s final games are generally weaker in capabilities than previous WarioWare microchallenges, you shouldn't really put the Nintendo Points down for WarioWare D.I.Y Showcase if all you're looking to do is play through the single player challenge. But it's great to be able to show off what you've created by sending video of your creation to YouTube, and it's a lot easier to do that on the Wii than it is on the DS.
Even with the scripting and control restrictions there's an incredible amount that you can pull off in WarioWare D.I.Y., shown by the available games and the designs you'll be able to download straight to the cartridge. The D.I.Y. cartridge holds an enormous amount of game data: you'll only have two slots to actively work in, but you can publish and save several dozen "finished" projects. You can save unfinished works as finished ones if you want to free up an active D.I.Y. to work in, too.
It's just a shame (and a missed opportunity) that you can't record your own voice for sound effects using the microphone, and I find it puzzling that there's no support for the DSi camera – many WarioWare microgames from past designs used still photos for their designs. I guess you'll just have to work that much harder to create photorealistic objects and backgrounds!
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