- Nintendo DS
- A- Community Grade
Thanks to the success of the WarioWare series, micro-games have become a subgenre of sorts in recent years. Lasting around three seconds and featuring low-fidelity visuals, micro-games—which are smaller than mini-games—symbolically feel like a well earned fuck-you to the industry’s obsession with big, bloated games and high-definition graphics.
The “D.I.Y.” in WarioWare: D.I.Y.’s title represents the idea of giving gamers the tools to make their own three-second, low-fidelity micro-games. On paper, this seems like a terrific notion. Given the Nintendo DSi’s hardware—stylus, touchscreen, and Internet connection—it seems like the ideal platform to pull this off.
But permitting self-expression in videogames has been tricky for game-makers. Sure, you can make your own levels in LittleBigPlanet, and your own tracks in Guitar Hero 5’s Music Studio. But who, besides an obsessed few, are willing to suss out the nuances of do-it-yourself toolsets?
WarioWare: D.I.Y. suffers from that issue. The game opens with a series of complex tutorials designed to introduce you to the principles of game-making. The tutorial uses the metaphor of a stage play to explain how games work. Like a nun transporting a misbehaving student, the game drags you by the ear through the creation of a game that involves touching a ladybug and making it scurry away. You have to create the “stage” (the grass and rocks) and “actor” (the ladybug), then learn how to animate the actor. Finally, you give the bug its “script” by telling it to scurry off when touched.
All of which is a lot of effort for little reward. The user interface isn’t nearly as transparent or intuitive as Nintendo believes it is. The paintbrush is for painting—that’s clear—but what about the button with a happy-faced guy with a beard? Or the button in the shape of a frog? There are good ideas here, and around 100 pre-made micro-games to play, but WarioWare: D.I.Y. ultimately reveals itself as an obscure, cluttered experience.