Ever dreamed of making your own RPG from the comfort of your living room?! Well, we take a look at RPG Maker MV from NIS America on the Switch, to see if it’s the definitive maker for us console players!
Welcome to the Jungle
For many gaming fans, the pinnacle of their fandom would be to have their name attached to their very own video game. However, it can become quite overwhelming to even get your foot in the door, let alone actually produce something. Especially when the realization sets in that video games are nothing short of a complicated beast to make!
Luckily, nowadays, there are many options to ease that burden, from the widely used AAA game engines such as Unreal and Unity, to the hobbyist friendly drag and drop solutions like Game Maker. But even choosing the right one can be difficult when considering your comfort level, the engine’s flexibility and its ease of use.
Well, NIS America has teamed up with Kadokawa to bring their highly lauded RPG Maker MV to consoles! With the hopes of giving us console players the thrill of making our own epic RPGs from the comfort of our living room. But, although the RPG Maker franchise has always been a wonderful stepping stone into the world of game development, will it be hobbled by the closed nature of a console and the less than flexible user interface?
Let’s Do the Time Warp Again
When I saw that NIS America was bringing an RPG Maker to the Switch and PS4, I could barely contain my excitement. I mean, ever since I was a wee backlogger, I’ve been using the RPG Maker software to bring my silly ideas to life. In fact, RPG Maker 95 and RPG Maker XP, were what inspired me to want to make games, learn things like programming and explore the digital media space!
So, the thought of being able to bring my eccentric concepts to life, and share them with my friends, ON THE SWITCH, had me jumping for joy! Especially, since a free “RPG Maker Player”, would be made available alongside RPG Maker MVs release! Meaning they could play my games without having to buy the software. Win, win! I mean, if Mario Maker could do it, so could the tried and true RPG Maker right?!
Hello? Is it Me You’re Looking For?
However, this is where it gets a little hairy. Unlike its PC counterparts, the console release of RPG Maker MV is contained within, well… a console. Which is a bit more restrictive than say, a PC. Meaning, you can’t make your own assets, you can’t do things like mess around with the scripting, and sharing your creations is restricted to their built in “forums”. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in fact, it makes finding community creations easier. That and you don’t have to surf the dark web to find a hidden gem. Nevertheless, it does make it feel a bit limiting. Unfortunately, since I’m playing a pre-release build of the game, I couldn’t really test this functionality, but I can imagine it would be a great way to see what people are doing, and possibly how they did it.
That being said, most of the functionality of the PC counterpart is there! The brand new character creator is present (and wonderful), you can tinker with the map editor and litter your maps with complicated conditional events until you’re blue in the face, and if you’re in the mood you can fine tune every little setting in the database! Which if you ask me is pretty dang impressive for something available on a console!
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Nonetheless, it isn’t without its flaws, and the biggest most glaring flaw is RPG Maker MVs user interface. Moreover, how you interact with it, which is with a controller! Or, optionally on the Switch, with the touch screen. Which basically made doing anything more complicated than making a map with a few events, frustrating and tedious. In fact, even the map maker was less than efficient to use! So really, if I could change anything, it would be for the development overlords that are in charge of making life easier for us console users, to add keyboard and mouse support! That alone would make the experience of tinkering with your creation so much more productive!
In all honesty though, everything you need to make a modest RPG is there, which like I said earlier is crazy impressive! Although the options can be a bit overwhelming, and it may take you a bit of time to wrap your mind around how everything fits together, there’s more than enough flexibility to make something fun and engaging. It’ll just take time, some design sense and a lot of patience.
I Said I Loved You But I Lied
So the question becomes, would I recommend picking up RPG Maker MV on the console of your choice? Well, that’s actually a tough question to answer. If you had no other option and were dying to wow your friends with your impressive RPG storytelling skills, then this might be THE point of entry for you. I would just be prepared for more than a little tedium. That and at $49.99 for the digital version, it’s close to half the price of the version you’d find on the PC, so you’re getting it at a discount right out the gate. Though I suppose this is really a case of you get what you pay for. I mean, the console version has a lot of caveats, such as having a much smaller community, less flexibility for creating your own assets, the inability to utilize the scripting engine and most importantly, there’s no keyboard or mouse support.
Hit Me With Your Best Shot
I guess what I’m saying is that if you really, really want to make an RPG, then you might be better off checking out the PC version of RPG Maker MV, instead of investing in their console port. I know that’s probably what I’m going to do. With that being said, as a curiosity, the console ports are kind of freaking’ cool! Especially considering there will be a physical release for the PS4 and Switch where you’ll get to stare dreamily at the fantastic cover art on the box as it sits on your shelf!
Otherwise, if you just want to play some fan made RPGs from your console of choice, then maybe just download the RPG Maker MV Player when it becomes available. That way you get all the joy of playing it, while letting everyone else do the heavy lifting! Though you may need to wait a while since, at least at this point, there wasn’t anything to play, not even sample games from the developer.
If you’re interested in checking out RPG Maker MV, it will be available September 8th on the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4! Oh and if you happen to pick it, or the free RPG Maker MV Player up, you can download the little demo that we made while we were reviewing it! Just look for The Backlog Odyssey in the Maker Forum!