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DS Design: Level Editors

This entry into the DS Design series will be a quick one. Today we're looking at level editors.

Using the DS touch screen, editing a level is more direct than ever. Editing terrain is like painting. Positioning units/players/enemies only requires a drag and drop. After designing levels for the original Advance Wars on the GBA, I've found the touch screen controls to be absolutely liberating.

With the touch screen comes not only a direct applicator/cursor, but contextual on screen buttons. Players no longer have to memorize which buttons do what.

The top screen very useful for displaying additional, detailed information. Whether it's a zoomed out view of your level, stats on how many resources you've used up, or information on the current unit/tool you're using, the top screen is always just a glance away while never crowding the bottom screen.

Of course, there are more good examples of editors that these. These are just a few examples of the editors I have experience with (Korg DS-10 being the exception).

  • Bangai-O Spirits
    • The tool box can be moved around anywhere on the touch screen.
    • Positioning and rotating enemies is a breeze using the tool box.
    • Versatile cut, copy, and paste tools.
    • D-pad moves the camera around.

  • Advance Wars: Dual Strike/Days of Ruin
    • Easily switch back and forth between buttons and touch screen input methods.
    • Paint a pretty landscape as easily as Bob Ross.

  • Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis
    • Large buttons and easy to use drop down menus.

  • Picross DS
    • Just draw on the screen to create a puzzle. It's that easy.
    • The system checks that your image is puzzle ready and can help you out by filling in/removing blocks.


  • Diagasso! Band Brothers
    • The most intuitive sheet music editor I've ever used.
    • Skip to 2:20 in the video to see footage of the editor in action.

  • Jam Sessions
    • Simply drag and drop the key block to the corresponding slot on the on screen D-pad to customise your key layout.
    • When you touch a key block, a chord in that key will sound so you know exactly what you'll get.

  • Korg DS-10 Synthesizer
    • Just watch the video. This is too cool.


The touch screen and dual screen features of the Nintendo DS have revolutionize level editors. And it doesn't stop with levels. Any menu work, character customization, texture making, and even deck building is easier, faster, and more intuitive than ever before on the DS.



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References (1)

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    Nintendo DS Touchscreen Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: Levelediting on the Nintendo DS Nice links and posts along the way. Critical Gaming Network wrote a short feature upon level-editors on the Nintendo DS. They praise the freedom, the touchscreen in...

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