Review: WarioWare D.I.Y.

WarioWareDIY.jpg The “Play, Create, Share” mantra of LittleBigPlanet comes to the DS in WarioWare D.I.Y., a game bursting with even more zany microgames and, for the first time, the tools players need to create microgames of their own and share them with others. Budding game designers, this one’s for you!

Out of the box, WarioWare D.I.Y. comes pre-loaded with over 90 microgames (you do have to participate in all facets of the game to unlock all of them though) designed in the same style as those of past installments. They are called microgames for a reason too, because they are so bite-sized and quick-hitting that to label them mini-games would be a gross exaggeration. An image pops up on the screen and you have but a few seconds to digest the purposely vague hint, scan the screen for visual cues and quickly determine what needs to be done to complete the silly objective at hand, whether it’s stopping a moving finger at the right time to pick a nose (no lie) or tapping with proper timing to hop a running figure over a series of hurdles. That’s all there is to it.

After six previous games spanning all Nintendo platforms since the GBA – WarioWare D.I.Y. now being the seventh – a sense of sameness has set in with many of the microgames and the novelty isn’t nearly as strong as it once was. However, the bizarre charm is still alive and well thanks to a head-bopping soundtrack and a simple artistic approach that gives many of the games the look of a child’s drawings brought to life. Mascot cameos and microgames replicating elements of top franchises like Mario, Zelda, Metroid and Star Fox are also sure to pluck on the heartstrings of the Nintendo faithful.

However, playing the included microgames isn’t the central focus of WarioWare D.I.Y. – creating your own is. The creation process consists of three main parts: Graphics, Music and Assembly. In the Graphics phase, you are provided a basic MS Paint-style art studio with the tools needed to draw/color a background and any other graphical objects you need to make your game concept a reality, including cel animation options so you can give movement to characters and other objects you draw.

Then you move on to giving your game a score, using a simple music editor to compose 4-track melodies (plus a fifth Rhythm track for effects like drumbeats and turntable scratches) with a variety of instruments to choose from, such as pianos, guitars, trumpets, flutes and violins, and even different sound samples like animal noises and 8-bit effects. There’s also a Hum Mode that records you humming into the DS’s built-in microphone and automatically places the notes on the tracks.

Assembly is the final stage, and probably the most difficult part of the entire process. Here you have to program AI triggers and win conditions to make your game actually work. Basically, this involves setting up “if X happens, do Y” instructions to dictate how the game is to be played and won. For example, I created a basketball game with a hoop drawn in the background and a basketball as an interactive object and set up a simple string of instructions that said “when the ball is tapped, it jumps to this location,” which I had set as a point moving through the hoop. Then I set the win condition to the ball trigger being turned on by tapping it, and after that it was ready for publishing.

As a game creation tool, WarioWare D.I.Y. is surprisingly robust, and as I peeled back the layers I gained a greater appreciation for how much work and creativity even simplistic microgames like this require. But thankfully, the interface is extremely accessible throughout and hours of tutorials help get you up to speed before you can even start a project, so you shouldn’t be frightened away if you don’t know much about game development. Other features also help ease you along, including the ability to open pre-loaded games in the editor to see how they were made, the option to import graphics and sounds from other games, and modes in which you are given a work-in-progress game and just have to finish what’s missing.

Once you’ve completed a game, you’ll probably want to share it with others. However, the sharing options are somewhat limited. First of all, you can only share and download user-made games with people you have exchanged Friend Codes with. And secondly, you can only share two of each created item (games, songs and comics) at a time, which isn’t very many. These limitations aside, the sharing system is solid overall – not perfect, but about the best that can be expected of Nintendo’s restrictive, outdated online infrastructure. Since release, Nintendo has made new downloadable levels available on a weekly basis, in addition to hosting different themed design challenges (currently there’s a sports game challenge in progress). And if you buy the WarioWare: D.I.Y. Showcase WiiWare companion, you can upload your created microgames and play them on your Wii.

All things considered, WarioWare D.I.Y. is a product you will only get out of it what you put into it. If your sole intention is to play it as a game and maybe just dabble with the creation tools, your fun will likely be short-lived, as most of the pre-loaded microgames are similar to previous titles and grow stale fairly quickly. However, if you have a passion for game design and intend to really sink your teeth into the editor and fully embrace the “create and share” mentality, I think you’ll find this to be the definitive WarioWare.

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Pros:
+ Powerful yet accessible game creation tools
+ Intuitive interface and excellent tutorials
+ Microgames offer split-second fun and a kooky sense of humor
+ Delightful music and graphics

Cons:
– Microgames get old pretty fast
– WarioWare novelty is wearing off
– Limited sharing options

Game Info:
Platform: DS
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Release Date: 3/28/2010
Genre: Game Creation/Mini-games
ESRB Rating: E
Players: 1
Source: Review copy provided by publisher on loan

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!