I wish Nintendo’s Game Builder Garage existed when I was 12

Nintendo's game-building title lets committed players create the video game of their dreams

Game Builder Garage screenshot

The headline says it all.

Nintendo’s Game Builder Garage for the Switch is the build-your-own-video-game experience I wish existed when I was a child. I always wanted to create my own game when I was younger but lacked the coding knowledge and design skills to make that happen. Back then, visual creation games like RPG Maker were around but they didn’t offer the same level of customization that a modern make-your-own game title like Game Builder Garage features.

Game Builder Garage breaks down the concept of making your own video game to such a basic level that nearly anyone can understand it thanks to its simple, straightforward design and, at least so far, the game thankfully features a complete lack of anything related to math (I just can’t deal with math or numbers, though I’m sure it will come into play at some point).

The experience is entirely visual and is powered by what the game calls ‘Nodons.’ These creatures, which control in-game actions like jumping, structures, physics and more, have a lot of personality to them and can sometimes even be surprisingly funny. Still, there are a seemingly never-ending array of menus and tutorials to navigate in Game Builder Garage, especially as you move through the various stages that teach you its very intricate mechanics.

There’s a motion-based ball rolling game, a side-scrolling shooter, a puzzle game, a racing game, a 2D platformer and more. All of these titles are designed to explain to you how to create your own video game from scratch eventually, but the process of moving through all the directions can at times feel like a slog. These sessions also aren’t short, ranging anywhere from 40 minutes to well over an hour to complete. As someone who often games in small bursts, there were several instances where I found it difficult to commit to a lengthy building sequence.

Game Builder Garage

In a preview session I attended regarding the game earlier this month, a representative from Nintendo explained that these guided tutorials are necessary for players to truly understand the game. While this is undoubtedly true, I wish there was more freedom to in-game guide Bobs’s never-ending string of instructions (at this point, I’m only roughly halfway through the fourth game).

Will I ever actually sit down and make my own game with Game Builder Garage? Probably not. This isn’t the type of title that I really have time for anymore, though I wish I did. Still, I can’t help but admire what Nintendo has accomplished here. It’s also worth noting that you can use a mouse and keyboard with Game Builder Garage, making the experience that much more intuitive.

Game Builder Garage screenshot

This is a welcome addition to the game, given that jumping between using touchscreen controls and Joy-Cons when in handheld mode can get pretty awkward.

Game Builder Garage is so versatile that inventive Nintendo fans are already even recreating classic games with it, including Mario Kart and Earthbound. In fact, you can even share your own creations and download games made by other players through simple codes (below are two really cool examples).

Though I’ll likely never build my own games with Game Builder Garage, I can actually see myself downloading what others have made with the tool. I also feel like I now have more of an appreciation for how complicated game design truly is. Even performing a simple action like making a character jump takes multiple steps.

Game Builder Garage is available now for the Nintendo Switch.