SmileBASIC 4 brings homebrew creativity to Switch

Make your own games! Or play other peoples', if you can't be bothered.

The sequel to - hold onto your hats - the Nintendo 3DS' SmileBASIC (also known as Petit Computer 3, hence), SmileBit's new and powerful tool lets YOU (or someone with more drive and ambition) make their own games using the BASIC programming language.

Now, all pursuits of this nature are beyond me (besides ZZT-OOP) so I'm content to simply download other, more talented peoples' work. And you can, with consumnate ease. New stuff is appearing all the time and it's as simple as navigating to it and hitting A to download. Unfortunately, you'll need a "server ticket" to download more than one every eight hours, not to mention to upload your own software. They're only five pounds sterling, but it's a little weird that you buy the programming package as well as the server ticket, given you can't do much without it. Why didn't they just roll it into the price of SmileBASIC 4?

Still, once you're set up, you'll find that people are already making cool, interesting stuff. It feels fresh and exciting, too - a world of user-generated content adding even more variety to the already game-festooned Nintendo Switch. The 3DS version was a little lacking by virtue of reliance on the terminally irritating stylus - okay, before you get mad, imagine stabbing every character in line after line of code with a virtual keyboard on the tiny 3DS touch screen, because that's what you had to do. Thankfully, this version supports USB keyboards and mice, which makes it actually useable. Not that wizards didn't manage to program some cool stuff on 3DS.

It's a versatile little library already and growing every day; even if you don't want to make your own games I'd argue it's worth owning the shell and a server ticket just to see other peoples'. But if you do decide to delve into it, you'll find plentiful tutorials and a friendly drawing interface for creating your graphics. There's a bunch of pre-made sounds and music too, so the tuneless folk among us can rest easy. There's even support for Nintendo Labo Toy-cons - remember Labo? I didn't either until I checked out SmileBASIC.

Anyroad, it's all about potential. The extremely infectious PICO-8 vibes make SmileBASIC's existing library very appealing to me, and the potential is as exciting as it gets. Such a simple interface for content tourists such as myself makes it a breeze to, um, browse; I can only imagine that as its userbase gets more and more familiar with the tech, we'll see deft, polished and exceptionally impressive stuff come out of this.

Hell, I've payed full price for games that left me colder than the one I found on SmileBASIC where you play as a frog in a hat. There are also slick, fluid shoot-'em-ups, platformers both basic and surprisingly complex, a wonderful Outrun-esque racer called "Drive", a 3D maze game where you throw bombs ala Bomberman in order to break through the walls and escape... there's a lot there to see, and assuredly more and more to come. It made me smile more than just a bit.

A review copy of this software was provided by the publisher.