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RPG Maker MV
Game Reviews

RPG Maker MV

Imagination and creativity run wild in this (mostly) easy to navigate RPG creation station.

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At some point, most of us have wanted to make our own game. Maybe you’ve always wanted a game starring a character you’ve created in the spotlight. Perhaps you’ve wanted battles that are less about weapons and more about magic. Or maybe you’re like me, and you’ve dreamed about an adventure where orcs are the heroes for a change. Why are they always the villains? Anyway, no matter what your dream game entails, RPG Maker MV can help you achieve it. Just as long as you’re patient.

RPG Maker MV is, in short, a game about making games, not unlike Super Mario Maker, only it’s less about platform perfection and more about role-playing adventures. It’s also not exactly new, having been available on PC for years, a platform that seems like a natural fit for anything related to game creation. But, like Mario’s sublime game creation station, this updated version feels like a natural fit for both Switch and PS4 consoles.

The game play is set in two parts: creation and actual game play. Of course, it’s a game creator, so most of the time is spent creating. After a short tutorial, you take your role as game creator and set to work making maps, designing characters, and configuring battles. It gives you tons of options for settings, music, characters, voices, events…the list goes on for a while. The great thing is all of  the customization you can do. You have set character templates, but you don’t see your perfect hero or villain?

Well, you’re in luck! You can just create your own with the character customizer! There’s an expansive library of available tiles to use for your settings, but you’re missing a specific tile for your medieval-meets-cyberpunk fantasy? No problem – just draw your own!

This ability to customize reaches events and battles, too. You’re able to write your own dialogue, choose what monsters to fight and how strong they are, and make any number of small events for your creations to battle through, meaning your game can have tons of side quests or focus on the main goal. The game really puts you in control of the process, which makes it a fun challenge.

The second part of the game play involves actually trying out your homemade RPG. There are two ways to do this. One, you can play test the game each time you save while you’re designing. This is helpful, because you have a chance to see what works and what doesn’t. And it’s during this process you’ll soon realize that a lot of things don’t work as intended. You’ll also realize this is all part of the process.

Once you’ve finished your masterpiece, however, you can choose to play in game mode. Here, the fruits of your labor are brought to life and you get to play through your creation in its entirety. You also catch more of those things that don’t quite work, but hey, trial and error is what creating games is all about. Because you design the game play, it can vary greatly. It can include many battles with crazy mechanics or it can just be running around doing things for townspeople. It’s all up to you to decide whether you’re making a Dark Souls or a Stardew Valley.

There is another great thing you can do with RPG Maker MV, which means sharing your game with the world. The game’s online feature allows you to upload one of your games and make it available to anyone who has the RPG Maker Player app, which you don’t even have to own the software to play uploaded games. All those sweet homemade RPGs are available for free. Not only do you get to make your own adventure, but you can play countless other ones. It’s a nifty feature that makes all the time you put into crafting your perfect game worth it. After all, isn’t part of the fun of a game sharing it with friends?

One of the biggest issues comes with being able to navigate the event creations. The tutorial, while very much aware of the fact that it can’t explain every detail, still feels kind of vague. It explains the very basics of things like making events to go in and out of houses and making characters speak, but forgets to explain how to do things like getting items from chests. I spent a good six hours learning how to make trees give you apples. I don’t regret it, but letting me be a digital Johnny Appleseed might’ve been less frustrating with a little more explanation. Or the ability to watch the tutorial again.

The game has clean graphics, both in the pixelated and more stylized forms. It’s obvious a lot of care was taken in this department because of the impressive amount of available tile and character designs. It also runs really well for such a large game. In the development mode, there were a handful of times where performance would lag between screens, but usually it was only for a few seconds. Considering how expansive the game is, I would definitely call that a win.

RPG Maker MV is a great time, as long as you’re willing to learn the ropes. I’ve already put in more hours than I care to admit with it, and I’m still constantly toying with all the available tools. While the constant trial and error can be frustrating, it’s also so much fun, and the satisfaction of finally getting something to work just the way you want it to is unmatched. If you’re looking for a chance to get creative and tell your own epic story (and don’t mind giving it more than a couple of hours of your time) RPG Maker MV is truly a game that will make your day by letting you make your game.

About the Author: Sebastian Stoddard