Published on July 14th, 2021 | by Zorbz
REVIEW: Game Builder Garage
Now to start off, this review is going to be a little bit different to our standard format as Game Builder Garage isn’t a typical game but more of a video game creation kit. To give an example this is a game akin to something like Dreams on Playstation and Project Spark on the Xbox, but of course this is a Nintendo exclusive for the Switch, so let’s jump right in.
Kicking off I was a bit hesitant on reviewing a game that you essentially have to make your own games and experiences with. I have never had enough patience with the intricacies of programming and even trying with other similar style games as I mentioned above, they’ve always been way too technical for my fragile little brain.
I did think however that if anyone can pull this off and get me to actually put in the time and effort, it’s Nintendo and safe to say I was right.
Game Builder Garage has got to be the most user friendly experience for newcomers as it is so well put together in terms of providing thorough lessons that teach you the basics step by step.
Now you are locked into completing lessons to get a grasp on things before going ham trying to create everything you could imagine and some things at the start may seem simple, but don’t worry it ramps up so make sure to pay attention.
You will start off by creating a simple 2D style little game of tag between two characters, again step by step, learning how to make your character on screen move, how to assign the joystick to make the character do so, how to make them jump, how to build the level around from the floor, walls, platforms etc, all the stuff to get you going.
This is again all done in segments with your handy little guide who will explain things with the help of the Nodons. What are Nodons you might ask, well they are essentially the mechanics in the background that have dedicated functions that you will use to create on screen magic.
Your main screen will show the player character in an empty world and with the press of a button you will flick over to the background, the programming side of things. This is where the Nodon are placed on essentially a blank canvas, think of drawing things on grid paper and then connecting the dots. You will bring up a Nodon that controls motion and assign what button you want to be assigned to that Nodon.
Again very hard to explain through text but I think watching some of the trailers and footage will give you a better understanding.
As I mentioned you complete these lessons to make little games to show you how it is done, these range from 2D platforming, a marble style maze, a shoot em up, a puzzle game, a racing game as well as a fully 3d platformer. So they not only ramp up in terms of technicality but also in terms of depth of what is happening on screen. This is all the perfect way to get you to start creating whatever you can imagine. Also if you forget something, you can always replay a lesson and do some little refresher courses which is nice.
Now there is limitations as this is more of a beginners guide into creating a game and not a proper developer suite for game creation that real developers use, however there is still so many possibilities to create some truly amazing stuff.
The main hook of course is once you’re set free with the knowledge to create something from scratch and will really be the point of ‘is this game really for me’. You really have to be a creative type with that itch if you are to have any real enjoyment with this. Now if you’re like me and don’t really have time and patience you can however play other online users content, BUT, there is a catch.
Unlike Mario Maker where you could just select an option on the menu and scroll through endless user made levels, this is not the case here. As people can make anything they desire and of course Nintendo being a very family friendly company, they of course had to place some restrictions.
So in order to play an online user’s creation you will need the User’s ID, but of course where do you find this? well this is all up to you. I would recommend checking out Reddit as they have some amazing threads where people will post screens of what they are working on and provide the codes to jump in and play their created content or you can even check out some Youtube videos.
This way parents don’t need to worry about kids playing levels that are made to look like certain human appendages or anything else disturbing one can think up.
This might seem like a bummer as it’s not as easy to get into playing hundreds of user made creations, but I understand why this was done so i do have to cut Nintendo some slack here.
So Is this game good you ask? Well that depends on what you create and how much time you invest. If you create a bad boring game then of course it won’t be fun, but if you put the time in you can make some truly cool little experiences. Now you won’t be making a 30hour open world game, but more so bite sized games to have fun with.
Visually the design of everything from the Nodons and how you place everything in the programming side of things is easy to grasp, it’s nice and colourful and not confusing like a giant wall of text. On the actual gameplay side, everything looks nice and crisp with some decent 3D visuals and also some sprite work. Again you don’y have billions of design choices but what is here is enough to get some decent looking visuals.
Probably my favourite part is the music and assigning sound effects to things. Just like in Mario Maker I loved putting special sound cues in areas that would make me laugh and you can do that here too. You can use music, changing it up a bit to fit the theme of your creations and place sound effects to trigger at certain moments, again up to you, there is no voice acting though so everything is text only.
Overall I enjoyed my time with Game Builder Garage and I will continue to check up on community creations over time to see what cool things people create. If you’re like me then this will be a game you pop into every now and then, although if you get hooked on actually making your own stuff then you will easily sink hours and hours into this game perfecting your creations.
For those on the fence, again this review can only tell you about my experience and for me this was the easiest way to get into game creation from someone who never had much of an interest and i enjoyed my time experiencing it. I encourage you to look at some created content online on youtube and as well check out the trailer above to see if this is something yourself, your children, your partner, whoever, might be interested in.