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Wii U eShop Review


Hullbreach Studios

Review: SDK SPRITER (Wii U eShop) WiiUDS_SDKSpriter_01_mediaplayer_large

Website: http://hullbreachstudios.com/

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNd7pYy822U

Genre: Creative app to design animated sprites, tilesets, maps, and levels

Players: 1

EU Release Date: 2016-09-29 Price: 12,50€ / 10,00€ if you own SDK PAINT

Tested: EU (PAL Version)

The Wii U with its touchscreen is one of the most appealing home console's for creative people out there. There are drawing apps like Art Academy, PixelPaint, VoxelMaker, and Hullbreach Studios' own SDK Paint to name a few, but they are only for show; none of them really tried to make something where you can play around with your assets.

In SDK Spriter you can almost create a basic 2D game. You can definately create something that appears like a game, but the gameplay is never deeper than traversing your selfmade map with your animated sprites, leaving it a playground for your own imagination, instead of being able to set in-game goals.

Review: SDK SPRITER (Wii U eShop) WiiUDS_SDKSpriter_02_mediaplayer_large

SDK Spriter has 4 steps of creating:

In Sprites you can create and save up to 32 animated characters and objects. You have 8 animation frames for each of the 4 directions to work with. You pixel them on the touchscreen, by selecting the brush and a color in one of the four palettes and then drawing on the empty canvas. When making a mistake you press the undo-button or use the eraser. There are basic functions like zoom in/out, copy/paste frame, but there are missing other basic functions like highlighting and copying small areas, a bucket that fills seperated areas, or just a function to copy Sprites to a different slot to make it easier changing similar characters/objects instead of starting each new Sprite from scratch every time.

In Tiles you  can create and save up to 16 different tilesets. Each tileset is made of 16x16 tiles, so that's 256 pieces of background you can create in one tileset. In here you create the parts of the world you want your Sprites to move in. The tools in here are basically the same as the ones in the Sprites editor.

In Maps you can create and save up to 64 different maps. In here you load up one of your tilesets and begin to put a world together. There are just 3 big features in here: One to set the collision detection upon every part of the map. It's basically to make walls and objects solid so that your Sprite won't pass through them like a ghost. The second feature lets you play with a back- and a foreground layer. With this you can make it look like your Sprites are behind or under certain objects. The last feature is that you're able to add 8 warp points. If you touch such a spot, your characters move instantly to the destinate coordinates. It's great to have such features to give your creation a slight amount of working gameplay, but we feel there could be much more to it. Also, since the icons in the Maps editor are very different from the ones in the other editors I feel that descriptions or a tutorial should have been in place. Yes, there's an e-manual, but it would be nice to know instantly what all the buttons on the touchscreen interface do as well as what all the buttons on the Wii U GamePad can do. It is no good control design if you have to look up the e-manual to see which button to press next.

Review: SDK SPRITER (Wii U eShop) WiiUDS_SDKSpriter_05_mediaplayer_large

Finally, we have Levels. You can create and save up to 64 different levels in here. Just select a map and up to 10 different sprites (the first one will be the one you play as, the other 9 are randomly moving NPCs). Unfortunately the positions of the sprites cannot be saved. Choose one of three playing styles and a music track. There are 25 different music tracks, most of them is well-known Classical music.

We're getting into the main mode first. Inside you can move around on your selfmade map and that's it. Yes, you can change the video-mode to tube, monochrome, black&white, etc. by pressing some buttons, but it doesn't add to the gameplay at all. This mode has the most potential for enhancements though. The best addition would be to make a level winnable. My idea is a set goal, like reaching a certain spot or NPC on the map. That would be nice for a start and would make sense in an update. I hope the developers don't stop there though. To make this more game-like I would love to see a health bar added to my main character (and a function so that selected tiles or NPCs can give you damage). To make it even deeper it would be nice for certain objects to have basic functions. Like switches that open passageways, or small pick-up items like keys and health regenerations, or friendly NPCs that talk to you and hand out items. This level editor definately has a lot of potential and the developer is listening and has already released the first update (on 14th Octoboer 2016) that added a few practical features and fixed some bugs.

Coming to the other two playing styles, one turns the world into semi-3D and you float above your map like in Mode7 (this flat 3D mode was used for F-Zero, Pilotwings, Super Mario Kart, and many RPG overworlds back in the day). There's no gameplay, it's only to show off your creation with a 3D twist. Collision detection and other Sprites are switched off, but you can rotate the map around you. Not much of substance to find here.

The final playing style is the pen & paper mode. It can be used to support your pen & paper experience. The game leader uses the Wii U GamePad to move a party of Sprites around the map and makes tiles visible/invisible while the players will have to watch the TV screen. The game leader decides what can be seen fog-of-war-style, a really useful feature. However, there is a button (warning: it's the Y-button) that turns everything back invisible. If you don't remember what each button does you can easily press it on accident. Just like in the map editor, it would actually enhance the experience and would leave less room for frustration if the game showed you the controls. The developers promised that more playing styles are on the way. This could be exciting. The question is will they flesh out and polish the current modes as well or just add more halfbaked ones?

Review: SDK SPRITER (Wii U eShop) WiiUDS_SDKSpriter_06_mediaplayer_large

When you first start SDK Spriter it asks if you want to pre-install assets, so you don't have to do everything yourself. It's 8 fully animated character sprites, one incomplete tileset, one disappointingly unfinished map, and 3 basic demonstrations of the playing styles on that unfinished map. On the upside all your creations can be shared with Miiverse or send to the internet where you can download them for free via code. There are also 15 achievements to unlock but they don't serve a real purpose.

If Hullbreach Studios is able to update this creative app in the right places we have a potential gem on our hands. But currently, your creations have little purpose, the user interface needs some changes to be a comfortable workplace, and it's missing some of the most basic features for drawing. However, if you find fun in just pixeling 2D characters and objects, and want nothing more than to put them into your selfmade simple worlds where you can just stroll around, this app is worth a look. The outlook for updates is promising. Let's hope they will add to the substance and fix the issues.


Written by SKTTR, 21st October 2016
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on October 21st 2016, 9:49 amSKTTR
Personally, the best game idea I can come up with, with the tools included in SDK Spriter, is a labyrinth game.

With collision detection, layers, and warp points, it's perfectly well-suited to create 2D topdown labyrinths.

on September 28th 2018, 12:07 amTowafan7
@SKTTR Oh wow! I can't believe this didn't get any comments. Crying or Very sad
on September 30th 2018, 11:15 pmToughGamer
Good review @SKTTR.
Aqua Cherry Blossom
on October 1st 2018, 1:14 pmAqua Cherry Blossom
@SKTTR Nice review as always lol. Smile
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