[Review] FUZE4 – Nintendo Switch

Written by Anna Karasik
  • Developer: FUZE Technologies
  • Publisher: FUZE Technologies
  • Release Date: 8/30/19
  • Price:  £12.99 / $19.99

From clueless to coder

FUZE4 claims to give bare-bones beginners all the tools they need to develop their own video games. It was a perfect experiment for me, since all I had in my mental tool box at the start was enough HTML know-how to format a paragraph. This game employs its own language called “FUZE,” which is very similar to Python. My coding-savvy friends caught onto it in a snap, as a result. For my part, I got the hang of coding faster than I anticipated.

It’s dangerous to go alone

My rapid journey from peewee to “pro” (I use the term loosely here) was thanks in big part to the game’s extensive support materials. The Help guide contains pages upon pages of tutorials. Lessons start from the tip-top, explaining basic concepts like variables and “If, Then” statements, and eventually delving into more difficult concepts like animation and camera movement. Although it’s a lot of reading, the descriptions are easy to understand, and there are practical code examples which you’re encouraged to copy into the editor and build upon yourself. It’s a fun way to solidify lessons while breaking up the tedium of reading tutorials. 

Already been there, done that? You can skip all of that tutorial content and simply familiarize yourself with FUZE’s specifics in the Help guide’s reference section. Overall, whether you are a complete beginner or a pro, this game’s supplementary resources will get you up to speed. 

If you do need more resources than the game has built in, you’re pointed towards www.fuzearena.com. There, you can ask questions or talk coding with fellow players. In the Creations forum, players can exchange project codes and show off their handiwork!

Made from scratch

Once you have the basics down, you can run wild in the coding editor. FUZE4’s saving grace is that it allows you to plug in a USB keyboard, which makes typing a snap. If you’re playing in handheld mode, you can use the touch screen to type – which was great in a pinch, but it’s obviously much easier to write up well-formatted code on a physical keyboard.

Whenever you want to give your game a whirl, you can press “+” or “F5.” If there are discrepancies that keep it from running, you’ll get an error message telling you which line the issue is on, and what exactly the problem is. 

As you build on your skills, you’ll end up creating a bunch of projects. Projects can be made into games, but the tutorial also helpfully suggests using them as a means of storing items for easy access; for example, an “images” project can house all of your image files. I also have a separate project that I use to mess around with new concepts. 

If you need some inspiration, the game comes pre-loaded with a number of projects that show off what the possibilities are. Whether it’s the 3D racing game or the simple map layer demonstration, you can play to your satisfaction – then copy or change the code for your own purposes. One of my first “experiments” in FUZE4 was editing the code for the platforming game so that the sprite could jump around infinitely. (Cue me bouncing around this little stage like Kirby.) It’s extremely helpful to parse through these pre-included codes, as they contain notes which not only label what’s happening, but suggest areas where you can add more content.

Setting the scene

What good is a perfect code without beautiful assets to build the world with? FUZE4 comes equipped with tons of completed map pieces, animations, objects, music and more. They were created by a variety of developers, which means there are different styles available.  Browsing through the Final Fantasy-esque sprites and sleek 3D models, I felt inspired imagining all of the possibilities. 

If none of the included assets tickle your fancy, or you want to make something 100% original, there’s a robust image editor in the Tools menu where you can create pictures totally from scratch. If you’re artistic enough, you can even make different frames for your own custom animation spritesheets! It’s unfortunate that, while playing handheld, you can’t use touch controls in the image editor, as you can while coding. The map editor, meanwhile, is an excellent playground for creating your own worlds. Map pieces, whether pre-made or custom, can be strung together here with ease, and you can select precise collision locations.

Power in the palm of your hand

By this game’s nature, it’s a lot more enjoyable to play while docked and using a keyboard. Still, I want to take a moment to talk about how it overcomes the potential shortcomings of playing with joysticks. After all, coding with a USB keyboard is one thing – but coding on what’s essentially a small tablet is another. Luckily, FUZE4 provides some button combinations that make this a bit more bearable. You can select and copy codes with simple presses of a button, for example. A missing feature that I wish would have been added is the option to search text in the code using keywords. (No, Ctrl+F is not an option here.) Whether you’re using a USB keyboard or the touch screen, it’s a nightmare to scroll through piles of code and find something specific.

With limited buttons to work with, there are a lot of different button combinations. Instead of making you memorize the controls (only to inevitably forget them the next time you play,) you’ll always see a little control bar at the bottom of the screen. That small addition is a big help, especially in the image and map editors, where the controls change often based on what you’re doing.

A whole new world

People pay good money for what FUZE4 offers: seasoned developers get a sandbox where they can make Switch games with ease, while novices can get up to speed on the valuable skill of coding in no time. What you learn with this game can easily be transferred to other programming languages. I would recommend it to any teen or adult who is even remotely interested in learning to code. I’ve talked to several people who told me they wouldn’t be able to learn something like this, and I tell them – that’s what I thought! But look at me now – I’m making a text-based game that just features one conversation between the player and an NPC who sells churros from a grocery cart on the subway platform. (My imagination needs some work.)

You – yes, you! – can create full-fledged Switch games on your Switch. All you need are patience and determination – but I also strongly suggest a USB keyboard. 

Pros:

  • Beginner-friendly
  • Excellent UI
  • Quality audio/visual assets & editor

Cons:

  • A lot of reading in tutorials (optional)
  • No keyword search

Verdict

FUZE4 boasts a comprehensive crash course in game development, providing all of the tools one needs to craft their own original Switch game – using their Switch.

4.5/5

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