Game: RPG Maker MV
Genre: Simulation, RPG
System: Nintendo Switch (also on PS4, Xbox One and PC)
Developer|Publisher: KADOKAWA CORPORATION | NIS America
Age Rating: EU 12+ | US T
Price: UK £44.99 | EU € 49,99 | US $49.99
Release Date: September 8th, 2020
Review code provided with many thanks to NIS America
RPG Maker MV comes from a long running series of game creation tools that has spanned several consoles. Now it has come to Switch. If you don’t have any interest in making games I can easily say this title is probably not worth your time. But before you decide: the game has released a free app that lets you play user created games, something I highly recommend if you simply want to play rather than create. However, if you do want to create them yourself, well, welcome to the rest of this review.
The game starts out with an interesting tutorial. It lets you play through a small snippet of a RPG with a King character, while periodically stopping the action to teach you some of the creation tools. For example how to place flowers near a house, adjust a NPCs movements and dialogue and adjust enemies powers in battle. It’s short and quick but I felt that it was so quick that I ended up missing a lot of the details. It’s a shame no more depth was added as it really only scratches the surface of the tools available to you. It at least gives you somewhat of a starting point on how to use the basic action in the creation tools because after the tutorial you’re given a blank canvas leaving it up to your imagination to create the RPG of your dreams.
Get Stuck in
My main approach to RPG Maker MV was simply to get totally lost in it’s creation tools and learn as I went. This may not work for everyone but its something I’m used to. For some, the game can feel a little overwhelming with all the options available. The game doesn’t feel beginner friendly and if you’re new to this creation tool you may need to head online to find some additional support and help. There is a lot of assistance out there but it’s a shame the developers didn’t offer more tutorial videos in the game to help newbies. There are a variety of tile sets, characters, enemies and all sorts of events at your disposal to create a game to your liking. While you can make a RPG reminiscent of the old Final Fantasy games it’s not compulsory. If you fancy you can just create a nice story based game similar to titles like To the Moon (also created with RGP Maker) and oddly soon coming to Switch soon.
Navigating the various menus can feel a little clunky at times. I kind of wish I had a manual next to me for this game as I forgot to press the trigger buttons to switch between editing the tiles and events. The game does offer a handy help screen when you get lost on the various menus but if your like me I suggest investing in a handy notepad. I used mine to jot down my game ideas as well as reminding me about the game prompts. While it was generally OK playing the game on TV with a controller its much easier to edit stuff in handheld mode particularly when you want to type dialogue for text boxes. It’s so much easier with the touch screen then doing it with the controller.
As you’re exercising your creativity the game plays an overly loud and happy tune. Something I quickly switched to mute and shoved some classical music on instead. It didn’t quite help my creative mind.
For a Niche Crowd
It’s easy to see some gamers look at RPG Maker MV on Switch and say ‘Why not just do this on PC?’ or ‘Why not do a course in game development?’ I guess the answer to that is you never know where budding game developers come from. Not everyone wants to make games as a profession, much like not everyone picks up a musical instrument expecting to sell millions of albums. There will be some people that will pick up RPG Maker MV and be quite content. It’s an opportunity to let their creative juices flow. I imagine someone maybe making a game describing how much they love their partner. Someone may create something that will help them deal with the loss of a family member. Someone may create something simply to cheer a friend up who is down on their luck. Then of course someone might pick this up because it appeals and a PC is not accessible to them. For all we know maybe that gamer will use RPG Maker MV as a stepping stone to game development on PC and beyond. Maybe they won’t, either is OK. But the opportunity to create is good for the soul and while it has a steep learning curve to the beginner. The gamer that has the time to spare may find something truly special with RPG Maker MV and share it with the world.
Sure the game has stick-to-the-tile sets given and engine restrictions. But if you have a lot of time to spare you can make something for you, someone else and if you’re brave enough, share it with the world. As you save your projects and log back on later the game drip feeds you more content to use in the creation tool. An unusual choice which reminded me of the original Mario Maker which had a similar approach. Think I would have preferred if everything was unlocked from the get go since I had the game in standby in handheld mode most to time.
If you’re a total beginner, the barrier to entry will seem quite steep and I suggest searching online for helpful guides to assist you with the creation purpose. You are confined to the games art style and tools so don’t buy this expecting to make a platformer. You will also need a lot of time free as game development is a long process requiring a lot of patience and persistence. The tools here are not quite as pick up and play as say Mario Maker but there is enough depth and complexity that, provided you have the creative mind, you can develop something pretty awesome. Who knows maybe it’ll lead you on the long journey of game development as a whole.
Overall my rating comes from my gut instinct and that is …..
Final Verdict: I like it