Title: RPG Maker MV
Developer: Kadokawa Games
Release Date: August 8, 2020
Reviewed On: PS4
Genre: RPG Maker
I’ve been playing games since I was very young, and I now feel partially qualified to criticize them. However, one thing I never assumed was that game development was easy, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t tools available to make game creation more accessible.
RPG Maker has been around since 1995 and has been evolving its toolsets and systems across many releases. Now, after a very long wait, would-be-game-developer console owners can experience the series for themselves with the release of RPG Maker MV. Sure, this makes the toolset readily available to those who don’t own PCs, but the console experience doesn’t really enhance the PC version as much as it serves as a way to keep it relevant five years after its initial release.
RPG Maker MV is an inherently robust set of tools for those with the creative edge or itch to tell their own RPG adventure. You begin with a blank slate and are more or less able to do whatever you want. Creating layers, overworld maps, towns, dungeons, everything is at your fingertips. It’s quite overwhelming in a way at first as you navigate the many menus and try to decide where to even begin. However, you are limited to creating 16-bit RPG style games, so understand these limitations and let your imagination go wild.
Games evolve over the course of development, and the “Events” menu within RPG Maker MV is tailored to handle any alterations that you wish. Thankfully, the game organizes these events well through branching narrative points and systems. However, it could be hours before you truly understand how to organize them. It’s perhaps the most important feature within the game because it handles how NPCs move, react, what they say, literally everything takes place in the events menu. This extends to enemies as well; elements such as encounter rates, and types, along with their power level is all handled in a menu and decided by the player.
With just the general description of what RPG Maker MV provides gives a decent idea of how grand or minimalistic players can tell their stories. However, the more you create, the more complicated things become, and I feel like the toolset it made exclusively for those who genuinely want to make their own games. Any deviation outside of this will most likely leave you confused and frustrated when things don’t go your way. It takes a certain kind of player to enjoy this type of work, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have some fun casually making games.
There are other issues that you run into in the console port, and a big one is using the controller. It’s just annoying to use sometimes and forces you to take a long way around when creating worlds. Things like drag and dropping elements in the scenes and navigating menus become tedious. It relies heavily on the user’s ability to access muscle memory if you hope to create a scene every hour.
I was always fighting with the frustration of doing something that I didn’t mean to and forced to navigate my way through several menus to correct my mistakes. This game was designed to be used with a mouse and keyboard, but at least the developer tried to translate that to the controller in some way. It doesn’t always work, but the more you create, the easier it becomes to wrap your head around.
Another issue that I had is just the limited amount of tiles that you have access too with the base game. I understand there are going to be DLC packs available, but you’re pretty limited to creating a few specific adventures and nothing too far out of that. Still, as a beginner product, there’s enough here to get your feet wet, but if you plan on getting serious, know that you may have to pick up some DLC in the future.
As impressive as RPG Maker MV was five years ago, users may be left wanting to push their creative skills further with this console offering. It definitely works and works insanely well sometimes, but the experience is one that is miles easier and more accessible on PC. Where users might have more fun is either sharing their creations with others or playing the games that players have uploaded. It’s possible there could be an endless stream of creative works here for players to play and share ideas for years to come.
It’s not easy to look past the shortcomings of the console port, such as the slight lag between menus or the hours and hours of practice required to create worlds from your imagination to pen and paper to RPG Maker MV. If anything, this will give future game developers a better understanding of the toolsets that they will have access to throughout their careers.
RPG Maker MV is a decent port of a 5-year-old game development toolset made available for console players. It takes time to understand and hours of patience to truly get the hang of, but those that make the most out of it are in for a world of possibilities. This series has evolved over the years to handle any type of adventure that a user would want to create. This console version only opens that door to more unique adventures.
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