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Game Builder Garage Makes Teaching Its Number One Priority

Game Builder Garage playtest

Nintendo often has some truly peculiar ideas. Even in increasingly familiar genres! Like game creation. Game Builder Garage, the latest release from the company, shares DNA with its edutainment past. Is it the next Nintendo Labo? Possibly, but through a particular lens.

If you’re averse to hand-holding, Game Builder Garage will probably rub you the wrong way. It’s a learning tool first and a creation tool second. (And a sharing tool… fifth? It’s not great at that, and you’ll largely just have to search for online resources to find anything to play.) But to its intended audience, it clearly has some use.

game builder garage playtest

The games you can make are simple, and they’re also pretty dry. It doesn’t have the robust capabilities of Dreams or the pure fun of WarioWare D.I.Y., and it doesn’t attempt either. Instead, it’s about understanding pieces and getting a good sense of how games function. It’s not a sculpting tool; it’s Lego. Or maybe Duplo, honestly; we don’t want to undersell the creativity of the world of Lego creators. It’s about the fun of putting blocks together and seeing them snap into place, rather than having something particularly impressive once you’re done.

In that sense, it’s a good fit for kids. Parents can feel good that it’s educational! Kids can… be playing a game without getting so much grief for it! And if they embrace it enough, playing a child’s creation with them can be a real bonding experience.

As an adult by yourself, Game Builder Garage is maybe less ideal. The tutorials are useful, to be sure, but they’re also a bit slow and repetitive. They’re designed to hammer home how to use the tools, and that hammering can at times give you a headache. A certain kind of person could like it, though! Imagine Nintendo Labo’s cardboard construction sequences, extended to game length.

game builder garage screenshot

Still, there’s some fun in seeing just what you can assemble from the provided pieces! They’re robust at what they do, but they do very specific things. You can plug in a mouse and use it, which makes things easier! And adjust a lot of variables on the functions that are here. Creating complex objects can be a whole thing, so casual players should stick to the defaults until they get comfortable.

But we don’t want to undersell just how difficult it is to build a learning tool like this. And just how engaging it can be! Anyone who has gone through mandatory work trainings or complex application tutorials knows how dry the experience can be. Game Builder Garage teaches well, and it would be interesting to see this team venture into educational software for real-world skills.

Game Builder Garage is available now exclusively on the Nintendo Switch.

Graham Russell
Graham Russell, editor-at-large, has been writing about games for various sites and publications since 2007. He’s a fan of streamlined strategy games, local multiplayer and upbeat aesthetics. He joined Siliconera in February 2020, and served as its Managing Editor until July 2022. When he’s not writing about games, he’s a graphic designer, web developer, card/board game designer and editor.