Saturday, June 27, 2015


Petit Computer is Dead. Long Live SMILEBASIC.

On a whim, I decided to take a look through the Apps section of the 3DS eShop this morning, and to my sinking horror, I realized that something was missing.  I did a search, and my blood went cold.

Petit Computer is delisted.

I've gone on at length about how wonderful Petit Computer is.  In fact, I've bought a copy of it for every DSi-compatible system I've owned, and I even used it to port one of my favorite PC games to my favorite portable.  So you can imagine my bottomless dismay.  I took to the Intergoogles to see if I could find out what happened, and I discovered two things.  First, the Petit Computer website -- along with the utility that allowed users to create QR codes for sharing their projects online with others -- was gone.

And second: a 3DS version of Petit Computer is releasing internationally as SMILEBASIC.

Let's start with the bad news.  The DSi version of Petit Computer is effectively dead, at least as a platform for creating software for wide distribution.  Ever since the beginning, I knew that it was only a matter of time before the website went down and users would be stuck without a means to make new QR codes.  It seems kind of pointless to continue using Petit Computer for anything but personal toys.  And this new version, with its online publication process, has the same potential to one day be rendered useless.

And the good news?  Well, just look at this thing.

A quick stroll around the website reveals all kinds of promises for new features.  Stereoscopic 3D sprites and backgrounds?  Check.  Circle pad, gyroscope, and microphone inputs?  You got it.  Integrated development tools that let you switch from programming to sprite editing?  DONE.  WHILE and REPEAT UNTIL loops?  You know it!  32-bit integers?  Double-precision decimal numbers?  Four-dimensional arrays?  They're all yours!

Okay, so some of these features don't sound that exciting to the average layman, but if you've spent as much time as I have fussing around with 20.12 bit fix-point variables, having the freedom to count to a million feels like Christmas.  They've even decided to let international users have the speech synthesis function that was removed from the international versions of Petit Computer.  It only works with Japanese phrases, but it's better than nothing, and I for one can't wait to give it a shot.

This already looks like a wonderful and sophisticated step up from Petit Computer, but there are hints of even more features that I'd like to know more about.  Projects are now structured in folders with text and binary files, which makes me wonder if the file structures are compatible with PCs.  Will we be able to write our programs on our PCs and transfer them to our 3DSs and vice versa?  A field-programmable 3DS is a wonderful thing, but a real keyboard could give it a powerful kick.  At any rate, it's exciting to think that we're going to get to play with save data that's bigger than the 256-byte memory files Petit Computer uses.

So I'm pumped.  I'm excited.  I'm watching SMILEBASIC on Twitter to keep track of developments.  And I'm keeping my fingers crossed that file sharing will remain relevant for a good long time.


As a celebration of the new SMILEBASIC I get to scan the qr codes for one last time HURRAH!

also btw the game is amazing!
It is! I've been poking around with it since it came out, and it's more than I could have hoped for.
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