WarioWare + Mario Paint = Unholy Creative Alliance
Ever since the creation of the original Mario Paint title, fans such as myself have readily awaited the arrival of a more modernized sequel. After playing the original Mario Paint game on the SNES for numerous hours creating animations, remakes of musical tracks, and replications of classic stamps, I wondered what Nintendo could do with a future title in the series. Mario Artist for the N64 was just one of the many titles that we never were able to experience when Nintendo decided not to bring the 64DD over to the states. Finally, I thought that Nintendo had provided us with a true sequel with their free downloadable title, Flipnote Studio for the DSi but after acquiring the game, I realized its potential but still didn’t see it as a “true” sequel.
Finally, Nintendo has released what can be seen as a true predecessor to the Mario Paint series and, most peculiarly, it didn’t arrive as a similarly named title. Instead, Nintendo has created a collision between the series and a more recent success, WarioWare. Having played and loved the entire WarioWare series it’s obvious that Nintendo needed to take a new direction as the formula had become just a tad stale. What Nintendo has brought us in WarioWare D.I.Y. is a game creating tool that takes the best elements from the two trusted series and merges them for an instant success.
Classic WarioWare Gameplay
D.I.Y. begins the game following the usually simplistic and cheesy problems of Wario’s life. Wario’s TV stops working and he immediately brings it over to Dr. Crygor’s lab to get it replaced. After mistaking Dr. Crygor’s latest invention, the Super Makermatic 21, with a television and attempting to swap it out for his own, Crygor fills him in on his invention’s ability to create microgames. Instantly thinking of money, Wario decides to make the trade and begins his quest to become rich via game making.
From the onset, you’ll receive a group of 19 preinstalled games, allowing you to play through a classic WarioWare style of gaming (18 microgames and a boss level). However, I found it very difficult to understand how to unlock the rest of the games from the onset; First, I thought that you needed to unlock every game from the current game section to acquire the next but after unlocking all of “Mona’s Games”, I didn’t end up getting the next set of games until I had done some creation; However, the next set of games came unexpectedly out of nowhere (after I had not played the game for the rest of the day, it came when I turned it back on the next day). Therefore, I couldn’t really tell if the real time clock dictated the arrival of games or maybe some combination of that and the amount of time clocked into the game.
Nonetheless, this was the first minor quip I had with the game, where I felt like there was no real structured line of progression in terms of the prepackaged games. Or rather, the game doesn’t allow you to escape often enough from the creation tools if you’re tired of making your own games. For instance, after being given the reigns, I immediately went to play through Mona’s games but after not being able to unlock the next group of games quickly, I actually had to take breaks from playing the game between the lengthy tutorial sessions provided within the game (until I acquired the next set of games).
All in all, there isn’t a large amount of prepackaged games when compared to previous WarioWare titles either. However, that is the beauty of the game as not only can you create your own (and you actively assist in making several of the games in the title), but you can also download games from a limitless supply of user-made games and/or from additional games added by Nintendo from Nintendo Wi-Fi connection. Thus, though the amount of prepackaged games is small, the amount of total games is essentially large as long as Nintendo continues to support the game for some time.
The "True" Mario Paint Sequel
As for creation, the game features all of the tools and style from Mario Paint plus more. Everything from the prepackaged stamps, designs, and even the eraser tools to the animation controls and music creation is straight out of the original Mario Paint title (or so it seems). I almost felt as if they had created a Mario Paint sequel in the first place and then decided to add on the WarioWare aspects of the game to make it even more of a novel idea.
What makes this game a true sequel to Mario Paint are all of the features that they’ve either updated or added to make the experience more immersive. Now instead of having one large animation sequence over the entire screen, players can have up to 15 different “objects”, each of which has 4 separate 4-frame animation sequences. And, using a new portion of the game that involves AI and Commands, the player is actually able to take their creations and turn them into games.
To elaborate further on the game design sequence, the available design mode basically features an extremely user friendly sequential based logic programming code that allows you to do many different things to create your game (think of the program language, Alice, if you’re familiar with it). The set of commands and scripts is actually quite extensive allowing for some advanced games to be created. What’s even better is that you are allowed to open up any preexisting game using the editor to see exactly how the game was created using the same code you’ll use. Thus, complex games such as one where you must find a watermelon by being told which direction to move according to your previous taps can be explained (though many of these are very complicated unless you spend some time understanding each step).
For a basic game design, let’s follow one of the tutorial examples. The game is to create a balloon with a present attached to it that floats through the air. The objective of the game is to pop the balloon by touching it. To begin, players are walked through the creation of the standing balloon animation. By using two frames, you offset the balloon ever so slightly so that when looped, the balloon quickly moves back and forth to simulate floatation. After that, you attach the present directly to the balloon via command and make the pair move in a random direction from the center of the screen at the beginning of the game. Next, players set the conditions for changing the object and winning.
By clicking on the balloon, you can make it respond once the balloon is tapped. The response is a picture of a balloon being popped and then disappearing, a sound effect, and a “switch” being turned on (these switches help objects to communicate with one another). Finally, you set the box to move down when the balloon switch is activated, add an appropriate sound, and also make this the winning condition. Along with an appropriate background and a short song, this is a microgame in a nutshell and though this one only includes two objects, it’s obvious that some fairly complicated games can be made by using such simple logic steps.
As was mentioned, there is an extremely in-depth tutorial that explains all of the different techniques used, as well as some different design ideas to help pique your creative interest. I found these to be very slow and drawn out and though they were insightful, I wish that there was a way to move through them quicker if you have a preexisting knowledge of programming design (it’s very useful to beginners or kids but I don’t want to have to be forced to read through drawn out hand walking coupled with an unsuccessful attempt at humorous banter between Dr. Crygor’s granddaughter and Wario). Nonetheless, there are things to learn from the tutorials for all gamers and unlockables can be acquired as well.
Innovative Design Evolutions
As for other aspects of the game that resemble Mario Paint, the music portion is also extremely similar. Players can create up to four different melodies and a percussion track to play at the same time during a song. Each track can choose from a variety of different notes from several different themes. Though five different melodies is an improvement from Mario Paint’s three, there are also some quite handy additions to the game that brings it to the modern age. First of all, for the lazy or less musically inclined, a “maestro” can be summoned at any time to create a random song. You can either choose a random song or give him a few criteria such as the speed of the song and the style (fun, sad, factory, spicy, spooky, 8-bit) and he’ll whip up a fairly strong ensemble off the bat. What’s great about this is if you’re in a rush, you can allow him to do it for you and then modify accordingly to create your own unique tune.
Secondly, players can create an entire song with up to 24 different phrases. Though these can’t be used within the actual microgames (they’re much too long), players can import songs from microgames they like into one of the phrases in these longer songs. Though it’s a pretty cool tool that adds to the creative spirit, most will probably pay less attention to making these longer songs. Nonetheless, Nintendo has also provided 90 different premade songs for gamers to unlock and listen to.
Another nice evolution of the original Mario Paint design is the stamp editor. Players can create any 64x64 bit stamp they desire but the nice part is that you’re not limited to putting in each dot individually but can actually use all of the tools from original design (spray canister, fill tool, creating shapes, changing orientation, etc.) to make the job easier. Players can save up to 22 different stamps if they choose to use throughout the game. And, if you enjoy the grid of the stamp mode, you can actually use it for regular design as well (while designing the background or your objects).
My only major problem with creating art/sound on D.I.Y. is that they essentially ignored two of the most personable inputs that they could have, with no ability to use the microphone for audio input and with the lack of camera functionality if using the DSi. I wouldn’t have even needed them to include these features directly in the game to not be disappointed by their lack thereof: For instance, they could have just allowed you to import the pictures/audio from your DSi (assuming this is physically possible from a hardware standpoint). Nonetheless, it’s interesting that they decided to not go the route of external audio and pictures.
The final portion of creation in the game is comic book making. If you’re a gamer that would spend time making one of the abovementioned lengthier songs, you’d probably enjoy the comic strip creating tool. This basically just allows you to create extremely short, four framed comic strips. Again, nothing special here and really pretty petty but the separation of games, music, comics allows for more specific forms of entertainment to be addressed. And, as usual, Nintendo has included 90 different unlockable comic sequences (for five different comic themes).
Connecting the World
Finally, probably the best evolution from both WarioWare and Mario Paint games involves the use of Nintendo Wi-Fi connection and wireless communications. There is a large variety of functionality that can be had using the DS’s wireless communications and the first obvious way is to be able to share microgames, comics, and music using a simple local wireless connection (DS to DS). However, to build upon this, Nintendo has also allowed players to upload their games to their Storage Crate in the Warehouse where their friends can download their creations (though the need of a friend code is a little annoying, I kind of wish you could just download any game from a user-based database).
As was mentioned before, Nintendo has promised several different developer based updates to the game as well over Nintendo Wi-Fi. For one, they will add new sets of microgames regularly and have even mentioned holding design contests where players are asked to create games based on a specific theme and Nintendo will add the best games to their database. Finally, Nintendo has also paired D.I.Y. with a downloadable WiiWare title, WarioWare: D.I.Y. Showcase, which allows them to attain 72 more microgames, allow them to play games on the Wii, and even play multiplayer with their friends (up to four players).