Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2, iPod touch 4
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Engineous Games' long-awaited Sketch Nation Studio is finally here on the App Store. This is a way to create endless platforming games, and to play the games that other people make. Both horizontal and vertical platformers can be made, for a total of 5 styles of game. There are 3 ways to make games: by entering simple mode, where games just require a style choice, player art, platform art, background, a name, and then they can be uploaded to the network. Advanced mode offers more options, such as powerup and enemy creation, along with specific object behaviors. Finally there's the ability to create a stand-alone app, which can be submitted to Engineous Games for potential consideration as a separate App Store release, with a profit share for the game creator.
The fun of Sketch Nation Studio is in creation. All the tools to make games are very easy to use. When I was creating my soon-to-be-masterpiece Sharktocopter, I never felt like things were getting too complex. Everything is represented in plain terminology as far as properties and actions for items. all it really takes to make a game is just time to make/compile the graphics. It's possible to either draw graphics, have them imported from the Camera Roll, or capture them via the camera. I of course used my stylus and tremendous drawing skills to make all the amazing artwork of Sharktocopter. Making a game and getting to test it is an extremely rewarding experience.
Technically, the games seem to have some issues in testing, such as powerups not working as expected, and music playing at odd times. One game I downloaded just plain did not work at all. The games all have the same feel to them, and this is probably going to be the issue with Sketch Nation Studio. Everything is going to wind up feeling somewhat homogenous just because of the fact that the same core gameplay mechanics are being used. It's a problem that GameSalad games also have, but to a greater degree: when simplifying the process, it just makes it more difficult to make games feel unique when everything is using the same physics and object manipulation properties. The defining property of each game will likely be in the use of polished and fun artwork.
Don't expect to make any masterpieces in Sketch Nation Studio, but the value here is in enabling the creativity of users. It's about taking a silly idea to fruition easily, and reveling in the creation of others along with it. Who knows, maybe the creator of the next great game will find their way into making the next great game thanks to Sketch Nation Studio, thanks to its accessible creation tools.