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December 8, 2014

WarioWare: D.I.Y. (Part 3)

Thanks everyone! Planned All Along has officially reached 70,000 views!

Read Part 1 of this review here and Part 2 here.

So much stuff to do... Oh, hello again! Today, we finish discussing one of the WarioWare games with the best gimmick of all: You make your own microgames! In the past posts, I took a good look at the Tutorials, the Studio and the Shop. We're getting close to the end of this review of the DS game. This Friday, I will discuss the WiiWare game that “completes” WarioWare D.I.Y., titled Showcase. But for now, we still have to check the Distribution Center and the Option Garage. Shouldn't be too long, right?

A center that looks like a pile of cheap carton boxes.
...Makes sense to me!
When you enter the Distribution Center (which I won't shorten to DC even though you can manufacture comics), you get three options: Wii, DS or WFC. When you select Wii, the game will seek out any nearby Wii on which WarioWare D.I.Y. Showcase is being played. From there on, you're allowed to ship games, records or comics. There are shelves in Showcase, which can contain up to 72 items each. If you want to fill everything, you need to create no less than 162 items for each section! That is a LOT.

All you have to do is select the item you want to send (one at a time – yeah, it sucks. What do you want to do, nothing's perfect), then send it. You'll see a diver sending a package to the little island in WarioWare D.I.Y. Showcase. ...Oh yeah, it's an island. I forgot to mention that? No worries, I will explain in greater detail in the next post. You can also receive stuff from Showcase. As if that wasn't enough, you are not limited to one WarioWare D.I.Y. Showcase to send the products to, either. You can ship your products to any D.I.Y. Showcase around. That's pretty cool. A friend of yours could buy the WiiWare game and then you could send him/her most of the games you've created. Oh, and the records and comics, too.

Which kind of genius builds a game company on a FRIGGIN' ISLAND?
The stupid kind, that's which.

As for a trade between 2 DS, obviously both consoles need to have WarioWare D.I.Y.. And while one is the host, the others will join the group for trading. ...If you've ever played a wireless multiplayer DS game, you know the drill. As I said earlier, I never got a chance to try that, which is pretty sad... Though I imagine it's fun.

Then there's the Wi-Fi Connection portion, which contains a few more options. First of all, like many DS games, you could input Friend Codes. When you connected to the Warehouse, it was them possible for you to get the games, records and comics released by the owners of those friend codes. (Note how everything was in the past tense for this paragraph. Take a guess why...) There's also a place to check your WFC Settings.

The other sections include the Warehouse, in which you could store some games, records and comics you've made. People with your Friend Code could then log on to your Warehouse and download the stuff you've made available. That's a pretty neat feature, considering it saves the trouble of connecting to every single person, one by one, to send the same items. You could also pick up the products created by those who gave you their Friend Code.

I just went around gaming forums and included in my game all of the WarioWare D.I.Y. Friend Codes I could find. What? I needed them for some missions! You can say it's an easy excuse and... yeah, it is. Whatever. I never got a chance to truly experiment with the Wi-Fi Connection! Heck, when I bought the game, a lot of gamers had stopped using it anyway! (Again, we have the Pokémon Trade Rule: Only Pokémon is a game famous enough that you'll pretty much always find someone to trade stuff with. Any other game will have much smaller odds of a trade happening, if ever.)

The final section is called the NinSoft Store. It's in there that you could access a design challenge. These Challenges took place in North America between March 28th, 2010 and April 6th, 2011. There were 17 contests in America, while there were 32 in Japan and 15 in Europe. All contests were themed: Sports, Creatures, the four seasons, cute stuff... and so on. The reward for each contests winner? His/her game was featured in the NinSoft Store and could be downloaded by anyone. Again, the WFC was shut down for the DS, so...

This game here was made by Masahiro Sakurai.
It's REALLY hard. Personally, I dislike it.
Another cool thing in the NinSoft Store: There's a section with even more microgames that could be downloaded. For a while, there were 2 new microgames per week with releases starting on March 29, 2010 and ending on March 7, 2011 (for North America, of course). As a result, over a hundred microgames were released. Oh, but wait, that's still not all! There was a section called Big Name Games. Each region had a different set of Big Name Games. The particularity of those is that these microgames were all made by people from the gaming industry, either journalists, mangakas, developers, and so on. Even Masahiro Sakurai made one! They even got some developers outside of Nintendo's main offices (but from companies that released games for Nintendo consoles, especially for the WiiWare). A few examples of developers who made a microgame: Ron Carmel (2D Boy, World of Goo), Daisuke Amaya (Cave Story), Alex Neuse (The BIT.TRIP Series), Matt Bozon (Shantae, A Boy and His Blob Wii), Edmund McMillen (Super Meat Boy, Gish), Todd Lewis (Scribblenauts, Lock's Quest), Bo Strandby (Max & the Magic Marker), Manfred Linzer (Jett Rocket) and Felix Bohatsch (And Yet It Moves). You'll notice many of those titles are available in the WiiWare section of the Wii Shop Channel, and I covered some of these games' demos in my Demo Reviews series. I've been plugging lots of people in the last paragraph, I guessed I was better off plugging myself too.

There was also a great amount of Big Name designers for Japan, and a much smaller number of the European release of WarioWare D.I.Y.. I downloaded a few of these games back when I could access the WFC, but even then, I couldn't download too many; my games shelf was almost full at the time. Scratch that; it WAS full. I had to delete the microgames I made that I didn't like in order to add any of those to my shelves.

Now, the final part of the game: The Options menu! There are only six options, so let's get this over with.
-Change your in-game name (for free!);
-Change your microgame enterprise's name;
-Change the sound settings;
-Test the microphone (even though its only use is the Humming mode in Record-making);
-Delete all your data. This includes all the medals you've collected, all the scores you've achieved in the Game Blender, all the microgames, records and comics you've made. Seriously, you'll spend dozens of hours playing this game, I don't think you want to erase your entire save file unless you make a serious mistake;
-View the credits. Yeah, there's no ending to this game, so there's no other way to view those. The credits are arranged as a microgame in which you must destroy UFOs located above the developers' names. Pretty fun. As it progresses, the ships start moving or changing in size. When you get to Satoru Iwata's credit, you have to defeat a larger ship with a core made of a nose. Ah, I knew it was weird! A WarioWare game without a nose minigame? That's unheard of!

And that covers everything, I guess. There's nothing else to add... Unless...

Objects appear or disappear when
her nose twitches.
Oh, I know! I think I'll cover the characters' stories in the D.I.Y. Shop's Game Blender! As usual for WarioWare games, each developer has a “storyline” with his/her microgames. It's not always a complex story (if you want examples, check my preceding review of WarioWare: Touched). Here are the five storylines.
-Mona becomes a temple explorer and ventures inside a temple with Manager Joe, her... manager, who has become her cameraman for this adventure. Huh. When you lose, Mona and Joe run out of the temple. (As usual, she has strange games.)
-Jimmy T. now has an aerobics show and trains with women. We see him from behind, and I swear, he reminds me of pre-1999 Weird Al Yankovic, except with blue hair and an exaggerated afro. Also, the music during that level is pretty fun. (He specializes in sport games, in case it wasn't obvious.)
-Ashley is just looking at the moonlight. ...Yeah, that's all. I thought she was gonna make a potion or something. Nope, just looking at the moon. (Also, all her microgames are about food. Yum?)
-Orbulon was flying around in his piggy ship when he gets hit by thunder (again????) and falls into a spaceship about to launch. With his head still poking out. The ship launches and he has to find a way to get out. (All of his games revolve around intelligence. He claims he has an IQ of 300; why doesn't he make his piggy ship thunder-proof??? It's the second time – that we know of – that it gets stricken by thunder!)
-9-Volt is still a huge Nintendo nerd. He made a game resembling the first Super Mario Bros.'s graphics, except he is the main character and he's on his skateboard. Each microgame you win lets him go a little further. (As always, his games are bout Nintendo classics.) By the way, he has split up with 18-Volt.
Also to note: Each stage has a Boss microgame which you cannot access in the Shop. Because they're too long, I guess. These can't be viewed in the MakerMatic.


And... yeah, I guess that's all I had to talk about. Time for the final thoughts, then?

Laugh all you want, but Penny is a
great teacher for microgames class.
This game is very good. Games that require creativity are always a lot of fun, if only because they give the tools required to make whatever it is they want you to make. I used to have a game-making program for my computer. It doesn't work anymore, technology marches on, but it was fun to make my own stuff (though depending on the amount of effort I put into it, the game was either meh or plain awful). Here, you're limited to microgames, but you literally create everything: The graphics, the music, the background, the programming. You can do anything, as long as it fits in 8 seconds or within the limit of the number of objects. Being given full creative freedom over those tiny projects is great, and it might spark an interest in game development among many gamers who never thought they'd have any talent.

And the Tutorials do a mighty fine job at telling us what we need to know. Once you've completed all the Tutorials, you're set and ready to make your own games. There's still some things that you'll need to learn (after all, practice makes pudding- Perfect. I meant Perfect), but in the end, Penny's tutorials and the 32 lessons from the Assembly Dojo are more than enough. There are lessons among those that you'll hardly ever use. Personally, I'm a big fan of randomness switches that change how the game is played depending on which switch is on and which is off. It's a really cool feature. Removing such a feature would take away a lot of the fun of game-making.

The graphics also take some time getting used to, but after a while you learn to live with the limitations (The biggest objects you can create are 32X32 pixels, each object's phase has a maximum of four pictures, and each object has a maximum of four different such animations). The drawing canvas reminds of Mario Paint and is very easy to use. Plus, you can create your own color palettes to give some of your creations a special style. It's all pretty fun.

The only problem is that the only commands you can input in the microgames you create involve tapping the screen (no sliding the stylus, no rubbing, no blowing in the microphone... nothing except tapping). Yeah, I would say it decreases the amount of things that can be done, but at the same time, game-making is already very complex as it is, and it would be even more complicated if there were different types of commands for the games you create. This really is a WarioWare-style "Game Programming For Dummies"; it would be too difficult to add more command styles. I'm happy with what we got.

While I absolutely love the game maker, I'm not a fan of the music and comic makers. I love music, but I suck at making music. There are ways to make good songs (and the 90 songs made by developers are good examples), but there are other problems with the music: There are 40 instruments and 8 sets of drums, but none of those can be tuned so you'll get the sound you really want. As an example, the electric guitar always sounds the same. Your creativity is a lot more limited with this. Thankfully, you can just import full songs from the D.I.Y. Shop and edit them. But making a fully original song? Tough luck. (I remixed Orbulon's Boss Time song and the result was damn awesome, though. Here's the original.)

Wish it was. I'm kinda broke.
Same for comics. I really dislike making comics for this game. A maximum of 4 panels, solely black and white (not even gray! It's lacking GRAY!), with nothing but you and your drawing tools. Oh, and a whole bunch of stamps (speech bubbles, simple symbols, some slightly more complex environment pictures, and then a B&W sprite of every WarioWare developer so far). Even with all those, your creativity is still very limited. You probably can't do as well as some of the comics made by official artists. So yeah, a huge fan of the Game MakerMatic, not a big fan of the Record MakerMatic, and I hate the Comic MakerMatic. My bad. Thankfully the existing comics are pretty funny.

On to my other points of criticism: The shop charts are really random. Like I said in Part 2 of this review, the established developers will always rack in the sales, while you will take a while to get "popular" by the in-game standards. If you try really hard, you could wind up selling more, but even then it's unlikely. The result is a flawed system that doesn't work quite right. The sales of most microgames will stop after a couple days, too; there will even be a point when you don't sell anything anymore. I would have preferred some realism on that side, but eh, they already implemented that thing even though they had no reason to, so I guess I can't complain that we have more than we were asking for.

Now, the medals. Many of those are fun and easy to get, and then there are some that are very difficult. Spending 40 hours with the Game MakerMatic? Sure, after 90 games you'll have reached that. Doing the same, or even half of that, with the Record or Comic MakerMatic is more difficult, especially if you have less talent in those two. Then there's all the medals that require you to ship products to another friend's DS game (hard to do if you don't have friends with the game) or D.I.Y. Showcase, on the Wii (already simpler, as you can do it all by yourself if you own both a DS and a Wii). Then there's the medals that require getting into the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Those medals are lost forever. Don't get me started on the three medals that demand you enter a design contest! Urgh. ...It's still possible to get all the music from Diamond Records, but it's a pain nonetheless.

As for the Distribution Center, it lost a big part of its appeal when the connection was terminated in May 2014. So many microgames that we can't download ever again! That's sad. Also, it means that now you must seek out someone else with a Nintendo DS and this game. Thankfully, the DS-to-DS option and the DS-to-Wii options aren't closed, so there's still a possibility to share. That's alright. The challenge is to find someone who owns WarioWare D.I.Y..

One of Mona's games.
No fair, it looks better than mine!
Overall, a solid game for creative spirits. For whoever likes microgames, too. It is definitely fun. Sure, it's got problems, all the problems I described in the preceding paragraphs. What doesn't? Thankfully, the material given to you compensates, maybe not in entirety, but in good part, that's for sure. Love the music in Diamond Records, love the microgames that I've played and the ones I've made. Games like these really help one become more creative. It's also great to learn some bits of programming, and to learn to solve problems at the same time. All in all, a good game. If you want to make your own things, buy it. But don't expect to be able to trade much.

Talking about trades, now I have to discuss WarioWare D.I.Y. Showcase, the companion WiiWare title with which you can share games, records and comics. I covered almost everything in the past three parts, so I guess I have very little left to say. Still, it has to be done, so tune in next time. It's Showtime! ...Wait, I meant to say Showcase. Oh well. Bye!