Game Builder Garage review: It’s what you make of it

Title: Game Builder Garage
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: June 11, 2021

Game Builder Garage is something that just came out of left field for Nintendo, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. With Super Mario Maker 2 not receiving much more support anymore, this might be the next best thing for Switch owners— especially on the creative side— to get their hands on.

GBG is a game creation tool first and foremost, as it offers a very digestible hands-on experience with basic programming. Think of it like working with flowcharts, but fun and interactive. The game has two modes from the start: one is the Interactive Lessons mode, and the other is Free Programming. The latter is where you will be creating your own games, but also where you can download other people’s creations.

What the game has to offer is what you make of it. With the creativity of the community and yourself, there can be nearly endless possibilities. Take inspiration from all the games you have ever played and try to make your own. The game’s Interactive Lessons mode gives you a very solid rundown of the features, widgets, and mechanics of things. It’s a tutorial mode that puts a lot of other games’ tutorials to shame, yet again, programming is involved, so all of this information is crucial.

Nintendo

You’ll be guided by your very trusty Nodon pals. They are these colorful creatures that help you along the way and act as the various widgets in your creations to give functionality. The whole presentation of this game is very much aimed towards kids who have an interest in programming. It’s all very cute and colorful. The wording of this game has an appeal for those at a first grader’s reading level.

The Interactive Lessons mode will give you an idea on how to create platformers, racing games, shooters, and puzzle games. They’re probably as long as one class period in grade school, so you know there is definitely a lot of teaching, practice, and some testing along the way. You can always refer back to these lessons, or Alice and Bob in the menus as you go along!

Unfortunately, the Free Programming mode isn’t selectable until you complete the initial tutorials in the Interactive Lessons mode. The tutorials aren’t too much of a drag, but for people like me who aren’t the most creatively inclined, this can be a bit of a gatekeeping feature. I tinkered around with the creation tools beyond just creating the preset games that GBG helped me make, but I mostly wanted to see other people’s creations.

I’ll admit, my commitment issues run rampant when it comes to creative projects in general. I never color my drawings, have the patience to create anything in Minecraft, or use the Forge mode in any Halo game. I usually just like to see other people’s creations and just have a chill time. I do understand the requirement, but the Free Programming mode could have been split into two different modes.

Nintendo

I found some amazing creations already in this game, including a Super Mario Kart demo created by Switch user ZeldaBoi (Programmer ID: P 000 C9K GH4). I had no idea you can create things like this. This makes me very optimistic and excited to see what people are going to come up with next.

I think what sets the game back the most is that going through creations isn’t as easy as something like Course World in the Mario Maker games. You have to manually put a creator’s ID or a specific game ID. It makes browsing games so much of a hassle. I want to be able to go in and out of games on the fly so there isn’t too much downtime. Hopefully, there is some kind of patch that allows us to automatically browse creations, because this manual code system is very outdated.

Game Builder Garage

Nintendo

7.5

Game Builder Garage is a very solid creation tool at its core, with very helpful tutorials to help creators make the most of what they have. This game is what you make of it. Whether you are a creative yourself or someone who likes to peruse the many creations of other players, there is definitely fun to be had. There are some lacking features that would definitely benefit the game in the long run if they were present. What we have is just a mostly complete package. If you have ever played games like Minecraft, Little Big Planet, or even Media Molecule’s Dreams, there are loads of fun to be had.

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.