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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Parking out of the Toy-Con Garage and into the Game Builder Garage

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - The specifications are unclear, but quite important!

In a surprise news drop, Nintendo revealed a new experience coming to Nintendo Switch next month: Game Builder Garage. Here's the trailer, and here's the info page.

As the name implies, you are building games in this...garage. Well, Game Builder Garage is meant as an educational tool (for $30) on some basic concepts of game programming and design via guided tutorials and a Free Programming mode. But it's very familiar... and that's because it's obviously inspired by the Toy-Con Garage infamously associated with the Nintendo Labo that also tried to teach programming the very same way.

If you click that link in the preceding paragraph, you'll get to an article filled with videos set to Private. That's because Nintendo has totally given up on the Nintendo Labo after KoopaTV waged a very justifiable war against it for two years and vanquished it. The Labo videos are put on private and the Labo mini-site is gone. The cardboard forces have moved on to other things, the success of which we should be able to evaluate very shortly as Nintendo is about to do a financial disclosure covering their recently finished fiscal year.

All of that said, before our righteous anti-Labo defensive war, I didn't think that poorly of it. I mean, I wasn't enthusiastic, but I could recognise some potential in the concept. So what about Game Builder Garage?

I'm definitely happy that there's no cardboard involved here, so I declare Game Builder Garage to be safe for household purchase. The only external device involved is a USB mouse, if you optionally choose to hook one up. Otherwise, you can use the Nintendo Switch's touch screen if you're a Nintendo Switch Lite user, or buttons if you're like me and think poking your touch screen with nails is a bad idea.

Game Builder Garage Nodon gallery
So do you think any of these Nodon can summon a dialogue box?
The in-game guide clearly has those, but can players make if/then-based dialogue, too?
I'm not making any game if I can't have great writing to go with it.
...Also, with all of these Nodon, navigating through them all might be a pain.

If you have Nintendo Switch Online, you can upload your game projects and download the projects of your friends, and apparently also collaborate on games together this way as well. ...Other software like the RPG MAKER series—which are on sale on the Nintendo eShop right now, by the way—tend to have a paid game maker and a free game player, but Game Builder Garage hasn't revealed anything like that, which means if I made something, I wouldn't be able to have every KoopaTV reader experience it unless you all spend $30.

Of course, we don't know the scope of the games you can make in Free Programming mode. While one limit is based on your imagination and creativity, game makers also have limits on the size of your projects. You might not be able to go above XX number of objects, for example, or the game world can only go up to X number of screens, or the aesthetic customisation options may be quite limited. Those kinds of specifications can make or break the long-term viability here. It's obviously packed with a lot of stuff, since the game file size is a whopping 10.5 GB. Doesn't mean your own games get to be anywhere near that.

Curiously, this releases June 11—immediately before E3 2021, which Nintendo is participating at. I don't know if that means they're dooming Game Builder Garage or Nintendo purposefully wants it released right before E3 begins because they intend to market it at E3 2021.

I'm often sympathetic to concepts like this, and it's especially good this concept doesn't have to be thrown out with the bath water...erm...Labo.

How do you feel about the trailer and available information on Game Builder Garage? Is Ludwig not being cautious enough in his disassociation of Game Builder Garage from its Nintendo Labo roots? Are you getting tired of all of these recent KoopaTV articles about new gaming-related announcements that keep ending up along the lines of, “Well, this seems interesting, but we don't know everything for sure, so who knows, really!” ...That seems to be happening a lot. Hopefully E3 2021 can clear some of those up.


  1. I really like when they give life to inanimate objects like the various tools of the Nodon. Also, that time guy look so evil. So very evil. A lot of the designs are really creative, although I wonder who the main NPC will be? I think Nintendo will show it off at E3, something like this looks too complicated to design to go to waste.

    Although! It is only 30 dollars, but that probably has something to do with it being a expansion on something that already exists, and also requiring online subscription to get any real fun out of it.

    1. $30 is substantially more affordable than the Nintendo Labo was, at least.

      You only need the online subscription to play others' projects and share them. You can get plenty of fun designing games all for and by yourself...!

  2. I can already see somebody just remaking every game ever in this just so companies lose money
    pong 99 might be a reality

    1. Not if you can't implement player vs. player online play!

      I am so happy

    3. Nintendo's website says "online play" but it's uncertain what that... means, or how 8 players can manifest...

      So far I hear it's limited (especially in text), so everyone saying they'll just make MOTHER 3 is way off.


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