Software Review #001: FUZE4 (Nintendo Switch)
Reviewer: John B
Developer: FUZE Technologies Publisher: FUZE Technologies Category: Education, Utility, Lifestyle Release Date: 8.30.2019 Price: $19.99
Buy FUZE4 from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
FUZE4 for the Nintendo Switch is one of the cooler ideas to come along in some time. I’ve seen a number of game creation programs that do the coding for you; you learn to navigate that program’s menus, but you don’t really learn how to code in any appreciable way. FUZE Technologies has decided to take a different approach to game creation software by choosing to integrate coding tutorials into the proceedings. In fact, it doesn’t just integrate coding concepts; it is basically a focused coding tutorial whose lessons happen to result in useful game coding concepts. In other words, you’re not really learning how to make a game when you load up FUZE4; you’re learning to code by making games. It’s a pretty important distinction.
A Word of Advice
My first piece of advice for anyone interested in checking out what FUZE4 has to offer is to buy a keyboard. Using the Joy-Cons and touchscreen is fine for navigating the screen, but when it’s time to get down to typing out your code, both input methods are excruciatingly slow. You can copy and paste some basic code outlines from the program’s tutorials, but actually filling them in with your own variables or setting up loops unique to your game means you’re going to need to type, and the Switch isn’t really equipped to do that on its own. Nintendo doesn’t make an official keyboard, unfortunately, but there are several third party adapters available. I don’t have an adapter myself, so trust me when I say typing things in manually is quite a chore without one and if you’re serious about using FUZE4 to teach you to code, you need a keyboard.
All Assembly Required
When you open a new project in FUZE4, the only thing you see is a blank text area with a blinking cursor and a keyboard. You are starting things quite literally from scratch. I will admit, I know literally nothing about coding, so when I opened a new project and no tutorials or anything popped up I got worried and thought this might be the shortest review I ever write. Luckily, the program includes some very useful tutorials that read more like a textbook on coding than a simple instruction manual – you just have to go to the help tab to find them. The tutorial lessons are arranged to take you from simpler concepts like loops and variables all the way up through creating 3-D models and programming enemy AI patterns. I didn’t get all the way to the end of them, but I was impressed by how well I understood the earlier concepts by the time I finished each lesson. Hopefully that came across sounding more like the program is well-written more than me being arrogant, because that’s what I meant. I took some coding classes in high school and I can assure you that FUZE4 taught me more in a self-guided hour than the septuagenarian running my school’s programming department managed my whole freshman year.
Part Library, Part Studio
In addition to creating code, you can also use FUZE4 to create and edit your own visual game assets. I played around with it and found it relatively easy to use, but, like a lot of things in the program, it probably works better with a mouse and keyboard. You can compose your own songs using code, as well, but unfortunately I didn’t get that far. It seems… very involved. FUZE4 also comes preloaded with tons of game assets you can use while you’re still learning the basics, however, which makes things easier. There are even some sample programs included that let you see some examples of what game code looks like complete with notes explaining how the programmers organized their code. Also, some of the sample games included are pretty darn fun all on their own.
A Good Program That’s An Odd Fit for the Switch
All things considered, I was pretty impressed during the hours I spent with FUZE4. I learned some very basic coding concepts – very basic, like the first few tutorials – but I felt like I really learned them, not like I just learned enough to pass a quiz. I can’t help but feel like the Switch isn’t the right home for this program, however. As I stated in the first section, a mouse and keyboard would probably be a much more efficient input method than anything the Switch easily has to offer. Also, copying and pasting code fragments and even just navigating between the coding screen and library has to be so much easier with a mouse. I think this a great way for anyone young or old to learn how to code, but I hope the devs port it to PC or Nintendo releases an official keyboard and mouse. Either one works.
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*A review code was provided for review purposes