Thanks to NIS AMERICA for the review code
Title: RPG MAKER MV
System: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 09/08/2020
Years ago, I gave RPG Maker Fes on the 3DS a spin, and came off absolutely detesting it. Not only did I feel it was a clunky mess on the system, but it also gated a bunch of stuff behind DLC and was still horribly limited in general, plus the RPG Maker Player made the whole app feel pointless to anyone except the most dedicated. Now in 2020, the next RPG Maker console game has arrived, this time being available on a system with a much better touchscreen. Does Kadokawa earn a redemption, or does this maker game still fail to be an easy-to-learn tool worth your time?
Per RPG Maker norms, this application is a tool that you can use to create and script your own RPG adventures, and like with FES, you do have some built in, generic assets to choose from. But unlike that limited game, MV is much bigger in scope, offering a ton more options to play around with.
You have a way better menu and UI to use, for one thing, and also have access to a lot more tools. Combine that with a more user friendly interface, and more control options, and the editor is a lot easier to navigate and less clunky than that of FES. There’s even a handy tutorial that gives you step by step guides on how to make and use events, location warps, objects, and a lot more, but somehow you can’t replay this after it concludes, which does make it frustrating to go back to if you need a refresher on a certain aspect, and a feature that absolutely should have been triple checked.
Likewise, there are plenty of BGM options available, but no option to make your own, unfortunately, though you can customize the pre-existing sprites at least, even though you won’t have nearly the same level of depth as the PC version.
RPG Maker MV allows you to make any sort of turn-based RPG you can think up, with enough dedication. When the aforementioned tutorial concludes (and becomes inaccessible for whatever reason), you’re free to head to either the online community to download games, or start making your own! The maker aspect is the biggest draw to buying this game, since like with FES, you can also play created RPGs via the RPG Maker Player app, which is a free download.
Yet, unlike FES, where I felt the whole product was redundant due to the lack of options or really any point to the creator, I found MV to offer a lot more options to make creating something viable, fun, and at least worth messing around with. For starters, there’s that aforementioned (Although unable to be replayed) tutorial, which is a very handy step-by-step process, but the inability to replay it is a completely stupid design choice.
Once you get into the full creator though, a lot of things open up to you! You can of course map out your overworld/town/dungeons with tiles as much as you like, and can even go into a settings menu for more in-depth and easy to understand mechanic settings, such as your starting party, available races, playable characters, stat distributions, enemy armies, dropped items, item effects, enemy stats, and many, many, many more options! This settings menu is by far where you’ll spend the most time, since it’s the aspect that refines the balancing aspects to every part of your game.
Of course, if you want to make a super in-depth game with many dungeons and a big story, it’ll take a tremendous amount of time and patience, since you’ll have to then deal with warps, layers, events, event triggers, and other aspects. The whole experience is a learning process, but I found handheld mode to make this experience one that I was able to somewhat adapt to, and I’m in the middle of building a simple RPG as this goes live, which is more than I can say for FES where my RPG was as barebones as they could come, and was limited by the DLC-heavy nature of the game. (MV doesn’t offer paid DLC, but instead some free DLC packs, and the base game has a bunch of content on offer already, including assets from the 2000 versions of the game!)
It should be noted though, that MV has some absurdly strict swear word filter: so strict, that it blocks out any parts that might be used in swears, and replaces them with *****, meaning that completely normal words in your RPG might end up being blocked by stars, which is a frustrating situation to deal with even if you aren’t trying to be vulgar in the slightest.
Of course when you’re not in the mood to make, there’s the mood to play someone else’s creation, and like before you can hop onto the server and download completed games with both the full game and the Player app. This time around, you can tag your uploaded creations from a variety of options and even rate other creations with stars, so it’s thankfully not as easy to stumble upon an undisclosed tech demo or an impossible to finish game, making it easier to find games to your liking.
However, the biggest flaw with MV’s online comes from the region-locked servers, as for whatever stupid reason, the JP servers are separated from the western servers. You can still play those JP games with the player app, but it makes no sense to not have it all under one unified server, especially as the JP version has had full english support for a long time now! Thus, everyone starts from zero and even now, I can’t say there’s any uploaded games that’s worth playing, since most of them are either tech demos, handy tutorials, or unfinished projects that’ll likely never get completed, if FES was any indication. So if you’re in this for the play aspect, then I’m afraid you may be rather disappointed and better off checking the player app first, before buying the full game. (You at least get more game slots this way, if you ever need them…)
In conclusion, I am very happy to say that RPG Maker MV is a vast improvement over the 3DS installment. It’s still a very complicated tool to learn, don’t get me wrong, but the whole creation process feels way smoother and easier on the Switch’s touch screen than it did on the 3DS, since you can use the touch screen to draw assets as you please. There’s still some limitations though, including the inability to make your own custom assets, and of course, the inability to export as a fully original game to share and sell.
Here on consoles, this app is more of a hobby tool to just get creative and experiment with, and it does a really fine job once you get the hang of things. The touchscreen controls are very welcome and overall this is a much better gateway into RPG Maker as a whole than FES ever was. You can actually use knowledge from this version on the PC release! (and vice versa)
Like before, the RPG Maker Player app does make buying the full game for play purposes feel a little redundant, and the region locking is incredibly stupid, but I can gladly say that even newcomers will find fun reasons to tinker around and just goof off, and this game did the series justice on Switch. I really can’t believe the tutorial is unaccessible after the first attempt, though, since that is a mind boggling design flaw that will no doubt frustrate newcomers, but if you somehow can get past all that and are willing to become creative, this is a enjoyable tool to take up learning if it interests you and you have no access to a PC.
I give RPG MAKER MV a 6 out of 10.