It’s been a long road to the RPG Maker MV worldwide console release, and the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 versions are about to appear. I’ve been messing around with it for a few weeks now, in the hopes of at least having some sort of prototype game available at launch and… it’s a lot. There’s so much here to do, with different themes available, song options to choose from, hues for tilesets, and songs. There are times when I look at what I have and feel like I’ve only just created and separated building blocks into the right piles, constantly wondering if I’m actually ready to build something up.
A big part of RPG Maker MV on the Switch is that it actually is like taking the PC software and having it on your system. When that leads to surprising loading times as you wait for menus to open and close, it’s potentially a bit of a drawback. It also means the whole creation suite can feel more complex than, say, RPG Maker Fes. Which could result in people getting a little more creative with their projects.
I will admit missing the RPG Maker Fes days. While playing in Handheld Mode in the Switch version of RPG Maker MV does give you touch screen controls, there was somehow a certain ease I enjoyed with placing, arranging, and setting items and events in that earlier installment. Here, I can sometimes find myself fumbling when cycling through menus, inadvertently assigning the wrong values to enemies, or messing up formulas.
Which is partially on me, because there are a lot of idiot-proof elements in RPG Maker MV. It has a lot of preset event commands, so if you wanted to have certain choices, messages, text changes, or party changes, you choose the right preset option and it happens. There is the ability to create your own calculation formulas, which use blocks to help you designate things, but you can put together a game without bothering with a lot of that.
Also, and this can’t be understated enough, RPG Maker MV begins with a mandatory tutorial. It feels a little like it is trying to be Super Mario Maker-ish, by constantly taking you in and out of a fake game and into the maker to remind you of different functions. (Also, to save your game often. Always, constantly, be saving your game.) There aren’t too many steps, but it handles the basics. Add items to maps. Figure out how to alter movement patters and events. See how to actually make it so you can enter towns or alter encounters.
Sure, I was a little incredulous going through it. I mean, I made Academonic in RPG Maker Fes and uploaded a 50% complete game. (To be fair, I had around 70% done at one point, but since it didn’t allow patching, I never uploaded it.) I know how to make games. At least, I thought I did. Once I got into this new software, it really was a huge help. Especially since setting up events still tripped me up a bit early-on.
Which is probably why the almost ten hours I’ve spent with RPG Maker MV so far involved building up my game’s database. I have all of the main Allegiance characters created. I have all of the potential enemies and enemy groups arranged. Since this is going to be a shorter game that maybe, somehow, I hopefully finish, I have the two possible final bosses set up. Though, I mean, I’m going for easy and simple, but still going to implement some kind of loyalty system that alters the plot. Because of the complexity, I feel like I’m approaching it in the same way I would a Lego set or Gunpla. I’m arranging parts and pieces before even attempting to get it all together.
I think what’s really been holding me back here, and thus keeping me from already sharing Allegiance screenshots, is the fact that there is so much here. You can choose between first and third person battles, and event switch between them in the same game. You have a character generator, in case the default avatar assets aren’t working for you.
The other element that I spent the most time with in these early hours, aside from the database menu’s, also feels lifted from Super Mario Maker. It is a Test Play function that lets you quickly go through what you’ve been working on to see how things are working. I have a grand total of two maps so far—an overworld and the first town—and I kept going through to check enemy encounters in the one and popping into the other to make sure it feels like a small border village.
There are times when I’d hold my breath and pray RPG Maker MV was taking so long to load because there was so much or it’s a lot to do, I’ll admit. And it still doesn’t feel as cozy and intuitive to me as RPG Maker Fes, even though there are so many “friendly” options here to ease people into the creation process. But I can’t fault this tool we have in front of us. It has the potential to give Switch owners a chance to make some really unusual things. It just will require a lot of your time.
RPG Maker MV will come to the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 in North America on September 8, 2020, in Europe on September 11, 2020, and in Australia on September 18, 2020. A free RPG Maker MV Player will be available. It is already available in Japan.