WarioWare D.I.Y. ReviewBy Andrew Pfister - Posted Apr 06, 2010
WarioWare D.I.Y. seems like the natural final evolutionary step of a series made famous on hundreds of simple, amusing, and downright bizarre ideas. What's the step? It lets the entire world's simple, amusing, and downright bizarre ideas get a chance to shine.
- Anything Nintendo designers can do, you can do
- Extremely helpful tutorial
- Sharing and pre-existing games for the creatively challenged
- Friend Codes hold back the sharing
- Game design not for the impatient
Years ago at a previous publication, I was fortunate enough to review the first WarioWare, Inc. for the Game Boy Advance. Caught pleasantly off guard by its fresh “micro” approach to portable gaming, I jokingly theorized that the underlying insanity of the games themselves might be attributed to the developers being under some sort of chemical influence. After some time spent with WarioWare: D.I.Y., the latest version of the game that allows you to make the microgames yourself, I have to wonder where I might acquire such…influence.
Obtrusive and often shoe-horned into other games, the tutorial in WarioWare: D.I.Y. is an absolute requirement before starting your own microgame empire. Your instructors are Penny and Wario, who teach you how to create a game from scratch by using very simple templates. You’ll begin with creating custom art using the game’s illustrator tools, animating the four cells of artwork to create motion, and assigning actions related to that art. Later lessons will teach you how to create custom music and assign sound effects, import assets from other pre-made games into your own, and assigning and modifying behaviors and rules that actually comprise the game.
D.I.Y. is actually very clever in how it “dumbs down” basic principles of game design. Instead of artificial intelligence, A.I. stands for “action instructions,” and everything is explained in the analogy of a play: you have a stage (backgrounds), actors (objects), and a script (A.I.) that determines how the game is played and won. The basic tutorial curriculum will guide you step-by-step through the creation process, while there are supplemental lessons and unfinished “projects” assigned by Wario that get you familiar with more advanced ideas and art creation. By the end of the learning sessions, the creative juices ought to be flowing.
While the tutorial does a great job of introducing you to the editing and creation tools, you still need to approach the custom game-making aspect of D.I.Y. with not just a plan in mind, but the patience necessary to carry it out to completion. WarioWare’s intentionally limited scope means that this is Game Design 101. It will help you with art palettes, music generators, and importing assets, but actually making an amusing micro-game is entirely up to you. You can mimic Wario’s approach in the tutorials and just slap something together quick ‘n dirty, or if you possess such talent, you can go into the editor and create something unique on a pixel-by-pixel basis -- D.I.Y. certainly highlights the importance of quality artwork in games. The art editor has the standard brushes and tools you’d find in any basic paint program, and you have the ability to create custom palettes for quick pattern work on backgrounds and objects. Animation is similarly easy, using copy and move functions to create the effect.
At nearly every juncture in the assembly process, you have the ability to test out the current state of your game-in-progress and determine if it’s looking and behaving the way you want it to. And if something’s not quite right, it’s easy to quickly change the art, music, animation cels, and A.I. Again, it’s important to remember that the WarioWare series is renowned for its “less is more” approach; you’re not really designing fully-fledged games as you are game concepts and simple mechanics. A comparison to the PlayStation 3’s LittleBigPlanet seems unavoidable: D.I.Y. is in a similar family of user-generated content, but it’s most appropriate for two groups of people: inexperienced aspiring designers who want to get their feet wet with very basic concepts, and the creative types -- professional or amateur -- who want to see what they can do within a very limited environment.
D.I.Y. also has a 6-track music creator with up to 1:36 of recording time. You don’t even have to associate your track with a game, you can instead ship a “record” just like you would a microgame for sharing. The same goes for custom comics: a basic black & white 4-panel story that you can draw, write, and share.
Of course, there is a third group that will enjoy D.I.Y.: WarioWare fans. Even for those who have no interest in creating something from scratch, D.I.Y. has plenty to offer as a receiver of user-generated content. The unfortunate limitations of Friend Codes rule out a unified clearinghouse of custom games that you can browse and download (or even vote on) at will, but Friend Codes will allow you to browse your friends’ creations – each person can make up to two custom games available to download at a time (the same goes for created music and custom comics). In addition to that, you can browse Nintendo’s WiFi Connection for weekly updates, design challenge winners, and microgames from famous designers. So while you still have to do a lot of the seeking yourself, Nintendo’s at least encouraging social distribution on some level. And there is a package of pre-made WarioWare games on the cartridge. Each of the five sets of games (for a total of 90) unlocks each new day you boot up D.I.Y.
Another neat feature of D.I.Y. is the ability to link to the WiiWare version of the game on your Wii. You can send games between the DS and the Wii and then play on your TV using the Wii Remote. You won’t be able to design any Wii-specific motion functions, and some games are just more precise using the stylus than the Remote, but it’s still an appreciated extension of the game. It would have been nice if there was a discount or download voucher for owners of the DS D.I.Y., seeing as the Wii’s D.I.Y. Showcase is 800 points, but it is a totally optional purchase.
WarioWare D.I.Y. seems like the natural final evolutionary step of a series made famous on hundreds of simple, amusing, and downright bizarre ideas. What’s the step? It lets the entire world’s simple, amusing, and downright bizarre ideas get a chance to shine. Just in the first week after the game’s release, it’s already evident that there are some highly creative people hard at work making games based on their favorite NES games, inside meme-related jokes, or like me, an entire suite of games based on the frustrations of air travel. Let’s hope Nintendo keeps supporting this initiative, highlighting the best of the best, and nurturing America’s aspiring amateur game developers.