We bought a lot of gadgets. Our homes are full of more (few) or less (many) useful appliances that have the sole purpose of … they will surely have some purpose, the fact is that they are often beautiful and, therefore, why not? But why not make our own, even if only virtual, and share them online? If the prospect intrigues you, know that someone is about to grant your wish. Between a crescentina and a Petronian cutlet (writing articles before lunch makes you hungry), the Bolognese software house Evil studiounder the impulse of Marco Bancale of Dry Licoricehad the idea of creating a sandbox in which the player can indulge in creating his favorite gadgets, in a decidedly brilliant way, as we have been able to verify frompreview of Retro Gadgetsto which they kindly invited us.
Creative, playful and educational
The presentation began by showing us what it is in effect a work table, which looks like it came out of some electronics enthusiast’s garage, where all the tools needed by the player to create his gadgets are found. Above we find a welder, an airbrush, a lamp, tweezers and several drawers with the various parts that can be assembled inside that can be used in the desired ways. After the general presentation of the project, we were shown a ready-made gadget: a perfectly functioning timer, equipped with several buttons to manage the various functions.
Better still, we were able to see the phases of its realization, with the assembly and fusion (by means of a soldering iron) of the various parts of the body, the addition of the buttons and that of the internal chips. Finally we could see how everything works, that is through some code written in Luaa scripting language widely used in the videogame field.
Of course this was only the starting point, because the possibilities offered by Retro Gadgets are truly unlimited, so much so that the presentation continued showing us a Snake gadget with an unconventional shaped screen, a calculator, a kind of Tamagotchi, a player of 8-16 bit demo born from the passion of one of the developers for the scene of the 80s and 90s, called Demotron, and other small ones virtual wonders created completely within the game editor.
There is even the possibility of build portable consoles, complete with a mini joystick (Gunpei Yokoi we always think of you)! In this sense, Retro Gadgets has revealed various potentials. The first is certainly the playful one: there are those who will simply have fun with the gadgets created by others (which, if desired, can be used as Windows widgets and which in the future could even become self-executable applications) and there are those who will delight to create increasingly complex gadgets to share with others (via Steam Workshop, which will be integrated into the game).
The second is that pedagogicallet’s call it that, that is, it can be exploited to learn the basics of programming (Lua is very used in the professional field, especially in video game development), thanks also to the internal documentation and video tutorials that will be published from the early access launch in then on the official social channels.
Another aspect that struck us is how some of the limitations of Retro Gadgets have been designed to actually give it a unique feeling. As already mentioned, the customization options there are many, with the possibility of importing graphics and code from the outside. The software, however, makes sure that everything is in line with the chosen style, that is essentially retro, so as not to derail everything in indeterminacy and maintain a basic visual coherence in everything that is done. Having said that, it is possible to really indulge yourself from the construction point of view, for example by using the images as stickers or as masks for the airbrush, useful for decorating the body. Considering that every element of the gadgets can be colored, the only real limit is that of imagination.
As a final note, we can tell you that the Retro Gadgets demo will be launched during the upcoming Steam Next Fest, which will be held from 3-10 October 2022. The Early Access version will be launched in November 2022.
Retro Gadgets is a title with great potential, which can successfully slip into the wide niche of creative sandboxes, which are so successful on PC, especially since it is possible to share your creations. It will all be about seeing the community’s reaction to the offer. We hope it is positive.