I have a bit of a long history with RPG Maker, with my first foray into the franchise coming via Don Miguel’s famed translation of RPG Maker 2000 on the PC in my younger years. As a fan of RPGs spanning from the SNES to the PlayStation at the time, the software absolutely blew me away – who wouldn’t want to create their own RPGs, right?
Well, despite never actually getting around to completing a project, I’ve tinkered with every release since then; something which has been made more convenient thanks to the in-house localisation from the publisher. I’ve always been left impressed with the flexibility offered to genuinely make your own legitimate RPG without the need to learn any programming language and it’s easy to see why so many developers have managed to release top quality games with the software in the past.
Naturally, my interest piqued once more when I saw that RPG Maker MV was going to be coming to the Nintendo Switch, which feels like the perfect choice of console to use the software. Touch screen for quick inputs? Check. Portability to make RPGs from the comfort of anywhere in your home? Check. A large userbase to play your games via the free game player? Double check.
RPG Maker MV really offers a robust and enjoyable way to work on your own RPGs on the Nintendo Switch, though those familiar with the PC version should be warned: there’s a lot less flexibility offered here as well as more limitations as far as resources are concerned.
If you’ve never heard of RPG Maker MV before, it’s basically a game-making tool that allows you to create and share your own RPGs. Clue is in the name really, isn’t it? What’s particularly special about the software is that you don’t need any coding experience to use it, with things like making maps, the battle system, levelling up systems, and most core RPG mechanics readily available for players from the get-go. You just have to play around with some clearly presented settings to fine-tune everything to your expectations and then you’re good to go… simple.
Map making is done through a tile-based system, with a variety of different environment styles available for you to create an assortment of different locales. These cater for towns, world maps, dungeons, and all sorts of different RPG-like locations, so there’s a decent selection available for players to craft their own unique worlds. The touch screen controls of the Nintendo Switch compliment map making too, so it’s pretty easy to get used to on the console.
Setting up the heroes of your game is just as easy, with players able to customise their names, appearance, skill sets, and so forth when putting together their troupe of protagonists. Looking at the Database menu and seeing all of the parameters involved in doing this can seem a little intimidating at first, though everything is presented in a clear way for you to understand what it all means. It probably helps to be familiar with the RPG genre when it comes to some of the terminology used, though complete newbies should feel pretty comfortable too.
There are plenty of other things to modify in the Database, such as attack animations, enemy parties, the system settings, and so forth – believe me, going into detail about everything here would take TOO much time. Like everything else in RPG Maker MV, it’s pretty easy to understand how everything functions and there’s a lot of clarity as to their use, though you’ll still probably have to play around a bit before you really get to grips everything that’s involved in making an RPG. I’d definitely recommend making a dummy project at first just to see how the backend of RPG Maker MV works and to experiment with all of the little intricacies that it offers.
Fortunately, there’s also an in-depth tutorial included in RPG Maker MV that’ll take you through all of the basics of the software. If you’re completely new to RPG Maker, I cannot stress enough how important it is that you go through this; whilst it may be easy to find yourself tempted to learn as you go, there are a lot of functions included that will make your life easier to have explained to you. This included the Event system, which essentially puts together the interactive sequences that your RPG will be made up of. Again, explaining it in depth would take a bit too long, but these Events are flexible in design, offer plenty of neat functions to play with, and are essentially what makes your RPG tick.
You know what? You might have read all of that and been left totally confused as to what RPG Maker MV consists of, and that’s fine. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so you probably shouldn’t expect to be making epic RPGs at the drop of a hat. Just know that it includes everything you need to start building your own 16-bit style RPG, with something simple like an opening town, a few story sequences, and a dungeon that concludes with an epic boss battle easily made in just a few hours. It never ceased to impress me as to what RPG Maker MV can actually do, whilst some online tutorials (that I’d definitely recommend checking out) can teach creators all new tricks that they never knew were possible. Whilst the default battle system is turn-based for example, you could make action battle systems or even tactical showdowns with a bit of tinkering and experimentation…
Want some advice, though? Learn how Switches and Variables work first and don’t set your expectations too high with your first project. RPG Maker MV offers plenty of possibilities, but there really is a learning curve in place that’ll take some figuring out before you can make a game of a decent quality.
RPG Maker MV has impressed me on the Nintendo Switch and I’ve had a lot of fun working on some small projects, though it does have some flaws that’ll be obvious to anyone has used RPG Maker on the PC. For one, you can’t import your own resources and instead have to rely only on what’s included. Whilst there is a decent selection of tile sets, character sets, music, sound effects, and monsters to choose from, the choice is a heck of a lot more limited when compared to the PC counterpart that offers the chance to import both custom graphics and those that have been ripped from existing games. It looks like there will be an option to purchase DLC down the line (this wasn’t available at the time of review) so you could expand your resource collection that way, but it’s still lacking when compared to on the PC.
Then there’s the fact that browsing the in-game menus can be a bit more fiddly without a mouse and keyboard. Whilst there is some shortcut functionality included and the touchscreen of the Nintendo Switch is handy, not being able to click tabs or switch between windows quickly could be a bit of a pain. The same applies to typing text, though you do have the touch screen to make this a little bit easier. Put it this way: if you’re serious about making an RPG and want to use RPG Maker MV to do it, you’d be better off using the more flexible and accessible PC version.
Despite these issues, it’s hard not to be wowed by RPG Maker MV. It really does give gamers the opportunity to create and share their own RPGs on the Nintendo Switch, and honestly, you can make them of a pretty high standard with a bit of effort and patience. I’m looking forward to spending more time working on my current project (expect to play ‘Ultra Potion Fantasy X’ on your Nintendo Switch in the near future) whilst I’m also excited to see what other players come up with too.
There’s no doubting that RPG Maker MV will be better enjoyed on PC rather than consoles, but that doesn’t stop it from being an impressive and robust piece of game-making software. There’s a heck of a lot on offer for players to craft their own old-school RPGs, whilst those who really dig in and experiment (or check out online tutorials) will be surprised at how much they can really do. Honesty, RPG fans who have a creative itch will love it.
It is a shame that you can’t use your own resources and the UI will take some figuring out on console, but these issues don’t stop RPG Maker MV from being easy to recommend to RPG-loving Switch owners. I’m excited to see what creations console gamers come up with in RPG Maker MV, but even more excited to share my own.
Developer: KADOKAWA CORPORATION
Publisher: NIS America
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, PC