A look back at Nintendo’s long history of art, music and game creation software
During the holidays we repost some of our best reports, interviews, opinion pieces and talking points from the past 12 months. staff and contributors – articles which we believe represent our best of 2021. Here you will find our usual mix of thoughtfulness, frivolity, retro skill, nostalgia for the game and, of course, enthusiasm for all things Nintendo. Enjoy!
Between the Super Mario Maker games, Miitopia, and now the soon-to-be-released Game Builder Garage, the past decade has seen Nintendo embrace the creativity of its players to produce fun content for all. It’s amazing to see the creativity of the communities that form around these games – whether they are creating amazing characters in Miitopia’s extended Mii Maker tool or designing intricate courses in Super Mario Maker 2 – but for Nintendo, offering sequels and creative platforms to gamers is actually nothing new.
The ease of access to online sharing and social media has made it easier for gamers to share their creations, resulting in an explosion of games that encourage and thrive on creativity. But even since the 1980s, Nintendo has looked for ways to let its players get creative. In this article, we wanted to highlight some of the best.
Let’s start with the Family BASIC
What better place to start than at the very beginning: the Nintendo entertainment system, or in this case Japan’s Family Computer in particular. In 1984, Nintendo teamed up with the late favorite drone, Hudson Soft, and Sharp Corporation to launch Family BASIC, software that allowed Japanese enthusiasts to program software through Famicom and record it on specialty tapes.
The title combines the name of the console with BASIC, a programming language commonly used in the 1970s and 1980s. Family BASIC was game development software, running on the 8-bit console. The program was more expensive than normal, in part because it came with its own keyboard that acted as a controller. The game was commercially successful and spawned two revisions, but it was a bit heavy to use; Without a doubt, Game Builder Garage has been designed to provide a smoother user experience.
While nothing else on the system comes this close to full software development, Nintendo released what it dubbed the “programmable” game series that used the Famicom data logger to record data to tapes. . These titles featured customizable features, often allowing players to create and play their own in-game levels. However, only three games were released in this series – Excitebike, Wrecking Crew, and Mach Rider – and this functionality was limited to Japan. We imagine that even most Japanese gamers forgot that they have this feature.
But no one could forget the next game, however.
Mario paint palettes
Mario Paint does not need to be introduced. It’s an absolute classic in the SNES library, selling for 2.3 million units, and it’s often the game of choice when people think Nintendo is giving gamers “creative” control.
This time it wasn’t game creation software, but rather a tool for gamers to create designs and music using the included SNES mouse. While its functionality is straightforward, it left a lasting legacy that has inspired not only Nintendo with many of its future creative games – WarioWare: DIY and, of course, Super Mario Maker, for example – but also the fans who have built one. Dedicated community around the built-in music creator, developing amazing remixes with the basic sound effects of the game.
While most gamers might think it ends there, those of you who have read our Mii article story should also be aware of the Mario Artist line of games, sequels of Mario Paint launched on Nintendo 64DD.
Exclusive to Japan, this series gave players access to even more tools to unleash their creativity: Painting workshop was essentially an upgrade from Mario Paint, with its own N64 mouse; Talent studio was a Windows Movie Maker-type affair where players created in-game characters and animated them in short films; Polygon studio was a simple 3D model maker with 3D environments to explore; and Communication kit allowed gamers to transfer their creation through games and even download them online.
It was a full suite of simple authoring tools that could even connect to external devices like the Game Boy Camera. The only thing missing was a music creation tool, but Nintendo had something in the works for this particular creative outlet.
Jam with sound fantasy
While Mario Paint had a music maker, it was mostly focused on visuals like art and animation. But following its success, Nintendo started working with game designer Toshio Iwai on an SNES game specifically around music, called Sound fantasy.
Described by media at the time as a “musical version of Mario Paint,” the game – which you can see in action above – was due to launch in 1994, but although it was completely finished, it was canceled. . Iwai would continue to work on other non-Nintendo games and a decade later he would return to do experimental electroplankton on the Nintendo DS, another quirky music creation game.
Despite the cancellation of Sound Fantasy, Nintendo wasn’t going to give up on allowing fans to make music. The company started working on Game Boy Music, a music creation tool for Game Boy Color. This project was eventually moved to the Game Boy Advance, but due to system audio limitations and the lack of buttons – required to be able to “play” various instruments – it was eventually pushed to the Nintendo DS and released as a Daigasso! Band brothers, known in Europe by the title of its ‘DX’ sequel, Jam with the Band.
Released in Europe on May 21, 2010, Jam With The Band was an awesome little music / rhythm / composition game that let you, you guessed it, play with 50 pre-installed tracks and program your own versions as well. Unfortunately, it never came out in North America.
There was also Wii Music, but we are not talking about Wii Music. If you don’t remember, well done for cleaning your memory so well! If, for some reason, you want to relive the horror, take a look at our recap of E3 Nightmares to remind you of Nintendo’s E3 2008 preview.
And that brings us almost to modern times. Nintendo has experimented with a few more creative games like the awesome Photo Dojo, a fighting game for Nintendo DSi that allows players to create a simple 2D fighting game using real photos to create scenes and characters. Flipnote Studio was an awesome animation creation tool that also saw the light of day on the DSi before migrating to 3DS, and has seen some incredible animations come to life. And who can forget Art Academy, a series that spanned six titles and that crossed Pokémon and Disney to teach budding artists to draw their favorite characters.
Nintendo has given us over 35 years of opportunities to get creative on their platforms, be it making music, art, animation, movies and even games, and From what we’ve seen so far, Game Builder Garage is looking to be one of the most in-depth and exciting creative tools out there yet. Switch already has some awesome third-party titles like SmileBASIC 4, Fuze4 Nintendo Switch, Korg Gadget, and RPG Maker, and it’s great to see Nintendo itself continue to expand its roster of software that lets gamers go wild with freedom. Creation.
GBG is, of course, closely related to its predecessor, the Nintendo Labo Toy-Con Garage, and if the creativity of this mode is anything to go by, we should all be happy playing some great fan-made games in the game. the near future. , all thanks to the power of Nintendo.
Yes we are always playing with power.