One of our all-time favorite games is WarioWare, especially the first installment for the Game Boy Advance. The clever idea of remixing Nintendo's old properties into an irreverent hyperspeed assortment of challenges was revolutionary at the time, and had great replay value.
The series has evolved and with it, we're now introduced to arguably the most ambitious effort yet: the ability to create WarioWare minigames. However, in WarioWare D.I.Y. it almost feels like the franchise is regressing rather than progressing. The beauty of the randomness of WarioWare was in guessing which buttons or inputs needed to be used and in what manner in order to pass the challenge. In D.I.Y., inputs are limited to screen tapping, which is itself a reduction compared with the touching/writing motions in WarioWare Touched (the last DS game in the series). As far as a collection of games, WarioWare D.I.Y. is the weakest assortment yet.
The new addition this time, however, is a robust editor for creating new minigames from scratch. Art, animation, AI routines, and even music composition create a toolkit that's amazingly deep for a handheld game. We were instantly transported back to the days of Mario Paint using its onboard game and music composers, which served as some positive familiarity with the creation process.
It's hard not to be suitably impressed at the freedom it provides, but, there's a catch: unlike user content-driven games like LittleBigPlanet, there's no server with user content available for download. Instead, files are shared among friends only, which severely limits the fun and replay value in such a game. After all, it's not just the joy of creation we're excited about--it's more the excitement in seeing what weird gamers with dozens of hours to kill will come up with. Perhaps even more upsetting is the fact that the game refuses to see Wi-Fi encrypted routers with security technologies above WPA. Though there is room for these "advanced settings" in the DS menu, you can't access them within WarioWare D.I.Y.
On paper, the idea of being able to create our own WarioWare games seemed like a dream come true. However, in reality we're just not sure how quickly the average gamer will pick up the process. WarioWare D.I.Y. does a good job at slowly introducing you to the way you design games by tasking you with customizing small parts of an already existing minigame.
Also, the tutorials and submenus in WarioWare D.I.Y. feel like you're earning a microcertificate in game design. Between the host of somewhat unclear tool buttons, submenus, and a map between sections that are filled with a confusing mix of assignments, games, lessons, and even comics, it feels like it's a little too easy to get lost. Sure, you'll get the hang of it eventually, but D.I.Y. is far from a newbie-friendly title. We were able to make a rather simple one-click game in less than 10 minutes, but a much more extravagant construction could take hours.
We definitely appreciate Nintendo's strangely hard-core approach here, and for creative types looking for a fun animation/composition/art/game design toy, this could provide months and years of entertainment. The 8-bit-style multitrack music-making miniprogram alone will keep us playing long after we run through the included minigames. It's just not as wildly fun as previous WarioWare games, and it's that madcap, zany, no-holds-barred feel that we miss the most.