RPG Maker Review
Ever since RPGs were first introduced back in the days of Nintendo, there have always been people who would comment on a certain RPG claiming that they can do better. There is no doubt about it, there have been RPGs which needed some big refinement in many areas, but thankfully there weren't too many, as developers take their time and effort to create at least a decent RPG. The Final Fantasy series is the benchmark when it comes down to it all, and I know that anybody who says that they can make a better RPG than FFVII or FFVIII can dream on. Well with last years release of Fighter Maker, gamers were in essence given the chance to create their own fighting game, but sadly Fighter Maker was limited in some fields, and mostly allowed the gamer to work on new moves and such. Fighter Maker was quite the hyped up game and people failed to see between the bold print and read the fine print, although the game was still enjoyable. With 50% of the mission complete, where is RPG Maker the successor in many ways to Fighter Maker, where is the game that Japan has received numerous amount of sequels to? Look no further because it has finally arrived, RPG Maker is finally available to the public and it's time for those loud mouths dissing Final Fantasy VII and VIII to prove themselves.
Boy, it would be harsh for me to say that the visuals "suck" but that is the case. They are pretty much first or second generation Super NES visuals, with tiny pixilated characters much like Final Fantasy IV or V. But with that the major cut back in visuals, the game still includes tons of graphics to choose from, for either enemies or magic summons, all detailed with fine colors. There are over 65 total main character bodies to choose from, as well as over 65 magic summons, and enemies to pick from each. Decorating each dungeon in RPG Maker would require you to select a tile and construct a pathway with it so that the characters could get around, just make sure you have railing on both sides of the tiles or else your characters will be able to walk on the backdrop, causing a very incomplete feel to the game. There are no FMVs, CGs or any kind of movies whatsoever, so this game is for the "true" RPG gamers, eye-candy feeders this one isn't for you. I can't really comment any further on the visuals except that they aren't really mesmerizing in any way, but some of the backgrounds are incredibly kick ass.
RPG Maker is all about gameplay. For starters, everything you want to do in this game can be done, yes even create your own dialogue for every character that you place on screen. Once you start to play RPG Maker, the menu will greet you with many options such as Monster Appearance, Main Characters, Item Edit, and etc. The Title option will allow you to customize the way your game title will look when you start playing your RPG, the intro, the color of the letters and everything else is done here. The Configuration menu isn't too important and only allows you to change the volume. The Gameplay Edit is where you have the choice of tuning features like Special Attacks, Monster Appearance, Abilities and Magic Defense. Parameter Name option is how you want your statistics to read, for instance if you understand that STR means Strength then leave it that way, or you can change STR into PWR or anything that you like, this is the option for you. The Magic menu is where you first create your magic spells, you name your magic spell, you select the Type of magic it is, plain Magic or a Super Attack, select the effect (cure, damage and 36 other effects to choose), how much MP is used, Points deducted, Range (single enemy, double etc.), then you choose what you want your spell to look like, you can choose from 30 different graphics, and finally the message you want to be displayed when you summon your magic skill. The Item menu is self-explanatory, here you create your own weapon, accessory, armor, shield, helmet, food, key, transport, cure, and magic. Everything here you should know what is meant by, and every category features different graphics for each, the weapon has swords and shuri-kens, the transport has a boat or a blimp, and every category features tons of different object to choose from. You can put a price on your item and stating whether or not shops will carry it. Our next field is probably the most important one, the Main Characters. Here you can select up to 15 characters to edit with over 65 different bodies, anything from a monkey, to a priest, to a knight to even a princess, almost any imaginable character can be created.
Of course you have the ability to give your character stats, anywhere from 0 to 9999, which can be reached by changing the level of your character to 99. If you have made any items, you can equip them or assign them to your new character, as well as assign your newly created magic skill, and don't forget that you can name your member anything you want. If you keep going down, you will scroll into Event, beneath the Scenario Data section. This is where you make some crucial points by creating exits to your dungeons and towns, and connecting them to other towns through the world map. You should refer to the manual or a strategy guide on how the Event option works, it is too much to describe in the review. Following Event, you have Skill edit. Skill edit lets you create your own skill, name it and choose what kind of skill you want it to be (cure, drain, Resist Magic, EXP Up, etc.). The last thing to do is set the power of your skill and then you are ready to move on to creating monsters. As I said before you can tons of monsters, 90 to be exact and fill them in over 250 slots. You name your monster, then you set its stats, and change its color if you want. Moving on to dungeons, here you will be granted either a custom board, or a pre set dungeon for you to explore on, once again this category is far too deep to get into so check out the strategy guide or manual to the game. The Field is basically the world-map, the game gives you pieces that you can use to create your own world-map, name it and place created towns or dungeons on it. On one field you can place 30 different spots, but you can create up to 8 different fields, so you do the math. Finally the Monster Appearance, here is the place where you set the probability of the random battles, 0 being never, 5 being almost every two steps. You must also choose which of your monsters do you want to be in a particular area, so keep that in mind as well. All of these features round off RPG Maker, I want to also mention that by entering Game Info you create the name of the game, the developer of the game, the scenario name and even make a password to access your game. When I was playing RPG Maker first hand, I actually felt as if I was a game developer struggling to get everything going smooth with my RPG, Beyond the Mist. The game loses about point because it takes a long time to get used to and finalize a game, but once you do that you'll be glad that you did.
I guess I can describe the sound as just barely average, the up-beat tunes are a real plus, and bring back the good ol' days of the Super NES. Though they sound like MIDI quality, I still think they are decent and hold their own ground. There are more than 35 different songs to pick for every town or dungeon, every song is different and fit every kind of area available. The songs are very reminiscent of older Super Nintendo games say Earthbound, Secret of Mana, and Lufia. There isn't much more to say about the sound, it is just above average but I personally like it.
The control is extremely easy, but since this game is 2D rather than 3D, the analog doesn't work and the Dual Shock isn't supported. In the end I found RPG Maker far deeper than Agetec's Fighter Maker. There are just so many things to do such as creating dialogue in the events section, choosing from over 65 character designs, tons of enemies, weapons, basically absolutely anything that an RPG gamer would ask for. This really makes you feel that you are creating an RPG all by yourself, and even makes you feel like a developer who struggles with fine tuning a game for perfection and other minor loose bolts for the tightest possible gameplay. The gameplay depends on how you make the game, if it sucks that's your fault, the game has some pre-set RPGs for you just to teach you how to play RPG Maker. If you are thinking of getting RPG Maker, I highly suggest getting a strategy guide along with it, or at least check out some FAQs on the game.