Reviewed on Nintendo Switch. Thank you to NIS America for this advanced copy.
For years I have had the desire to make my own RPG. I’ve bought previous RPG Maker games many times, starting way back on the Super Nintendo. I’ve always found it difficult to wrap my head around, partially because I’ve never taken the time to learn everything. However, since NIS America was kind enough to send me a review copy of RPG Maker MV for the Nintendo Switch, I decided to change that. I’m not a professional by any means, but I stand a better chance of actually completing a game now. The only drawback being – I don’t really want to do it on the Nintendo Switch.
For those unaware of what the game is, RPG Maker MV puts creative control in the hands of players to create their own RPGs or heavily narrative experiences. Probably one of the most notable titles that used RPG Maker was To The Moon, just to indicate the type of game that could be created. Knowing that however doesn’t make jumping in any less daunting as players are greeted with icons, settings, and so much more that is intimidating to newcomers.
RPG Maker MV does it’s best to ease those players in though with a new tutorial built in-game. Using a character to move around the world, certain things are “incomplete” preventing progress in the tutorial. This is where instructions are provided on-screen as to manipulating the world to continue on in the tutorial. It does a good enough job in giving the basics, but if it’s not your learning style, it probably isn’t the best way to grasp the mechanics. Instead, what I did was look on Youtube and find directions there. The step-by-step process from the ground up worked in my favor as opposed to an already created world with things dropped in here and there. Plus, not having any way to go back when a question arises is something missing that would be greatly beneficial to players as well.
For those familiar with RPG Maker MV, the experience is pretty much the same. The screen is broken out into four “quadrants” of sorts where the press of the Y button will move between. The map section takes up the majority of the screen and can be adjusted in size by altering the settings of the map selection quadrant found in the bottom left. Above that are the different tiles to decorate your worlds split into different tabs found by pressing the L and R buttons. Finally, the top bar includes the most important options such as event selection, map editing, character generator, and more.
RPG Maker MV includes some perks not seen in previous RPG Maker games. For instance, this is the first time voice assets are usable based on 8 characters found on the promotional art for the game. These are limited on voice assets, mostly used for battle cries or spell usage, but it’s still a cool option to include. It would be better if they had English voice assets as well for those who don’t understand the language, but it is what it is. Another first time for the series is the inclusion of 5 voiced songs by singer Elina, voiced in English, that can be used throughout the game for battles, cut scenes, and more. Some of her previous works include musicals such as Mary Poppins and The Adventures of Priscilla, animes like Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress and Re: CREATORS, and her song “Feel the Pulse” was used for the Tokyo Olympics. None of these are particularly game-changing for the series, especially due to how few options there are, but it’s still great to have regardless.
One of the tag lines for the game is “POWERFUL enough for a developer SIMPLE enough for a child VERSATILE enough for any platform!” and it’s pretty much true. I’m not a developer by any means, so I’m not utilizing the game to its full potential. However, I do develop like a child, and I’ve been slowly piecing things together pretty painlessly. There are no lines of codes necessary to learn. The various settings are broken out easily enough to understand and give players a variety of ways to alter the game. The RPG Maker games have always been an incredible feat, and it’s more impressive now that it’s on Switch.
It being on the Switch is also a negative, especially in comparison to the PC version. So much of RPG Maker MV revolves around navigating menus and typing out various things. I have no means of testing it, but using a USB keyboard and mouse should be possible which would eliminate much of the problem. It’s not the only one, however. Playing portable allows for touch-screen capability although it wasn’t as responsive as I would have liked resulting in multiple presses required for one act. Portability also means the screen is much smaller. Due to the size, I found myself struggling with details in the character creator or map tiles.
The Switch hardware also restricts some of the benefits the PC version includes. On PC, the user can create their own sprites and illustrations to insert into the game. The Switch doesn’t allow that. In the future, certain assets will be provided as both paid and free DLC by the makers of RPG Maker MV. Also, much like RPG Maker FES on the Nintendo 3DS, there will be an RPG Maker MV Player that allows for people who don’t own the game to play games submitted by creators. The drawback there is that the Player doesn’t cross with PC player-created RPG Maker MV games. RPG Maker MV Player isn’t available until the game launches, so there’s no way to test that all now.
The fact that a game creation software like RPG Maker MV has made it’s way to the Switch is impressive. Sure there are limitations based on the hardware itself, but knowing the fans of RPG’s on the Switch, this could be huge. If the creators go to town, the RPG Maker MV Player is worth downloading just to keep on hand for any games by the community. Despite certain drawbacks such as maneuverability around the menus and less player-inspired assets, RPG Maker MV is definitely worth a try. However, if PC is an option, there’s no reason to get it on Switch other than portability. If that’s worth the downgrades, absolutely get it for the Switch. The experience is mostly the same and the potential for limitless RPGs is still there. You probably won’t be seeing anything from me, but I am eagerly awaiting to see what the community creates.
*A review code for the Nintendo Switch was provided by NIS America*
*RPG Maker MV is set to release in the US on September 8th, 2020, September 11th, 2020 for EU, and September 18th, 2020 for ANZ.*