Take a look back at Nintendo’s long history of art, music, and game creation software

Image: Nintendo / Nintendo Life

Over the holidays, we are re-posting some of our best articles, interviews, opinions, and talking points from the previous 12 months. from both employees and participants – Articles that we think represent our best of 2021. In them you will find our usual mixture of thoughtfulness, frivolity and retro. expertise, nostalgia for games and, of course, enthusiasm for everything related to Nintendo. Enjoy!

Between Super Mario Maker, Miitopia, and the upcoming release of Game Builder Garage over the past decade, Nintendo has harnessed the creativity of its players to create engaging content for everyone. It’s amazing to see the creativity of the communities that form around these games – whether it’s creating incredible characters in Miitopia’s advanced Mii Maker tool, or developing challenging courses in Super Mario Maker 2 – but for Nintendo offering players creative kits and platforms, it’s really Nothing new.

The ease of access to online sharing and social media has made it easier for players to share their creations, and this has led to an explosion of games that foster creativity. But even back in the 1980s, Nintendo was looking for ways to empower its players to get creative – in this article, we wanted to highlight some of the best.

Let’s start with Family BASIC

1. Family basic
Image: Nintendo

What better way to start than from the very beginning: from the Nintendo Entertainment System, or more specifically from a Japanese family computer. In 1984, Nintendo teamed up with the beloved defunct bumblebee, Hudson Soft and the Sharp Corporation, to release Family BASIC, a program that allowed Japanese hobbyists to program software through the Famicom and save it to special cassettes.

The name combines the name of the console with BASIC, a programming language widely used in the 70s and 80s. The BASIC family was literally game development software running on an 8-bit console. The program was more expensive than usual, in part due to the fact that it had its own keyboard that functioned as a controller. The game was commercially successful and spawned two versions, but it was a bit cumbersome to use; Without a doubt, Game Builder Garage was created to provide a better user experience.

While nothing else in the system comes close to developing entire software, Nintendo released a series of games it called “Programmable,” which used Famicom Data Logger for storing data on cassettes. These titles include customizable features, often allowing players to create and play their own in-game levels. However, there were only three games released in this series – Excitebike, Wrecking Crew, and Mach Rider – and this functionality was limited to Japan. We believe that even most Japanese players forgot they had this feature.

But nobody could forget the next game.

Mario Paint palettes

Several elements found in Mario Paint are gaining approval in Super Mario Maker, including the Fly Swatting Challenge.
Several elements found in Mario Paint are gaining approval in Super Mario Maker, including the Fly Swatting Challenge. (Image: Nintendo / SatoshiLyish, YouTube)

Mario Paint needs no introduction. It’s an absolute classic from the SNES library, with 2.3 million units sold, and is often referred to when people think of Nintendo giving players “creative” control.

This time it was not a game creation program, but a tool that allows players to create art and music using the included SNES mouse. While its functions were simple, it left a lasting legacy that inspired not only Nintendo to create many of its future creative games – like WarioWare: DIY and, of course, Super Mario Maker – but also the fans who have built a dedicated community around them. built-in music editor that creates incredible remixes with the main sound effects of the game.

While most players might think this is where it ends, those of you who have read our article on Mii history should also be aware of Mario Artist a line of games, sequels to Mario Paint, launched on the Nintendo 64DD.

Exclusive to Japan, this series gave players access to even more creative tools: Paint Studio was mainly an update to Mario Paint with its own N64 Mouse; Talent studio was something like Windows Movie Maker, in which players created game characters and animated them into short films; Polygon Studio was a simple 3D model maker with a 3D exploration environment; and Communication kit allowed players to bring their creations into games and even upload them to the Internet.

It was a complete set of simple creation tools that could even be connected to external peripherals like the Game Boy camera. The only thing missing was a music production tool, but Nintendo had something in the works for this particular creative outlet.

Jam with sound fantasy

While Mario Paint had a music creator, it mainly focused on visuals like art and animation. But after its success, Nintendo began working with game designer Toshio Iwai on an SNES game dedicated to music called Sound fantasy

At the time, the media described it as a “music-oriented version of Mario Paint.” The game, which you can see in action above, was ready to launch in 1994, but despite being fully completed, it was canceled. Iwai continued to work on other non-Nintendo games, and ten years later he returned to create an experimental Electroplankton for the Nintendo DS, another non-standard music game.

Despite the cancellation of Sound Fantasy, Nintendo was not going to give up on giving fans the opportunity to make music. The company started work on Game Boy music, a music creation tool for the Game Boy Color. This project was eventually ported to the Game Boy Advance, but due to the audio limitations of the system and the lack of buttons required to “play” on various instruments, it was eventually ported to the Nintendo DS and released as Daigasso! Band brothers, known in Europe as its DX sequel, Jam with the Band.

Released in Europe on May 21, 2010, Jam With The Band was an impressive little music / rhythm / composition game that allowed you to – you guessed it – jam alongside 50 preset melodies and also program your own versions. Unfortunately, it never came out in North America.

There was also Wii Music, but we’re not talking about Wii Music. If you don’t remember, well done for clearing your memory so thoroughly! If, for some unknown reason, you want to survive the horror, see our review of E3 nightmares to remind you of the presentation of the Nintendo E3 2008.

And more …

4. Home studio Art Academy
Image: Nintendo

And that almost brings us to the present day. Nintendo has experimented with a few more creative-focused games, such as the stunning Photo Dojo, a fighting game for the Nintendo DSi that allows players to create simple 2D fighting games using real-life photography to create scenes and characters. Flipnote Studio was an impressive animation creation tool that also started life on the DSi before moving to 3DS and saw incredible animations born out of it. And who can forget Art Academy, a series that spanned six titles and crossed paths with Pokémon and Disney to teach aspiring artists how to draw their favorite characters.

Nintendo has provided us with over 35 years of creative possibilities on their platforms, whether it’s making music, art, animation, films or even games, and from what we’ve seen so far, Game Builder Garage looks to be one of the very best. there are no deep and interesting creative tools yet. The Switch already has impressive third-party games like SmileBASIC 4, Fuze4 Nintendo Switch, Korg Gadget, and RPG Maker, and it’s good to see Nintendo itself continue to expand its roster of software that allows gamers to get wildly creative freedom.

GBG is of course closely related to its predecessor, Nintendo Labo Toy-Con Garage, and if the creativity of this mode is anything special, we should all look forward to playing some great fan games in the near future. all thanks to the power of Nintendo.

Yeah we still play with power.

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