If you've played a WarioWare game in the past, you've undoubtedly wondered what must go through the minds of the people who create the insane levels. Whether it's a game about putting a finger in a nose or hitting a dog with a newspaper, the microgames always seem to be the strangest, silliest things ever created. In the latest WarioWare title for the Nintendo DS, WarioWare D.I.Y., Nintendo hands over the torch of nonsense to you, the player. Instead of shoving a few hundred microgames into the cartridge, it comes with less, yet so, so much more. It comes complete with the power to create microgames, play them, and send them to friends.
While there are some levels included with the game, D.I.Y. is all about creation. That said, levels can only be so in-depth. To make things easier to control (and to allow the games to be shared with a WiiWare version of the game), the input mechanics are limited to tapping the screen. There's no scratching, blowing into the microphone, dragging, or controling the game with any other mechanics WarioWare games have employed in the past. Still, thanks to an incredibly in-depth creation system, there are plenty of paths to take. In a way, it's not unlike the level creation system in LittleBigPlanet to a point, with the AI employing similar mechanics to the switches in Media Molecule's games. The difference comes in the creation of art, which can be used to make animated characters or objects, and a music maker, which allows for additional customization.
After going through the tutorial, a necessarily long and in-depth guide to the world of microgames, the studio is open for business. Before long, it's possible to make a cowboy walk accross the screen. With a tap, the animation changes, and he grabs his chest, spins around, and falls to the ground. You could even throw in a gunshot sound effect and make the screen flash whenever there's a tap. Switch to the music creation system and whistle The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly theme, and the game will translate it to music fairly well. Spend some more time creating, and you can make tumbleweeds blow by, blocking prospective shots and adding some necessary difficulty. Hell, just thinking about it makes me want to grab my DS and create.
While it's obviously not as in-depth a system as LittleBigPlanet's, it's much, much more accessible. Since the creation is limited to microgames, averaging five to ten seconds in length, there's actually a chance that most people who play the game will produce some finished products. For as fantastic as LittleBigPlanet's the level creator was, it was also out of the reach of most gamers. I can't tell you how many times I spent hours upon hours on a level that, eventually, was never completed. It's no fault of Media Molecule's, obviously, but the task of creating an interesting platformer was simply too much work. In WarioWare D.I.Y, I was able to spend a few hours tinkering with the tools to make a fairly complex level, or a few minutes to make a basic one. If creating microgames sounds like a fun time to you, odds are it will be. If it sounds like a chore, then that's probably what you'll get.
Thankfully, Nintendo included the ability to share levels online with friends, enter bi-weekly contests, send levels to a WiiWare version of the game callted D.I.Y. Showcase, and download featured levels made by industry professionals. Already, there are custom microgames made by 2D Boy (developer of World of Goo) and Daisuke Amaya (Cave Story's creator), and while they're not all that fantastic, they're free, and interesting at the very least. Beyond level creation, Nintendo also included the ability the create longer music tunes and comics. Neither is nearly as interesting as making microgames, and it feels as though they should have spent more time on adding additional pre-made assets instead of adding in needless elements, but they flesh out the game for anyone still uninterested.
All in all, WarioWare D.I.Y. is a worthy investment for anyone even remotely interested in the promise of level creation. For fans of more traditional WarioWare gameplay, there's... well... there's no such thing. WarioWare has always been about insanity, and the ability to create levels makes D.I.Y. fits right in line with all of the other games in the series. It's missing a few key elements, like being able to use the DSi's camera or SD card to bring in real images, and I'd hope that in the future, Nintendo would sever the link to the Wii and make it so more input methods would be possible, but it's a wonderful first attempt, and proof that the series has room to grow beyond a few hundred silly clicks and drags.