Game Review: RPG Maker Fes (3DS)

We all know the score: I love games. If you’re reading this, you love them too. Maybe, like me, you even like to dabble in making them. If that’s the case, you’ll no doubt have come across the “RPG Maker” line of engines, the latest of which (RPG Maker MV) has vast graphical improvements and the possibility of exporting to mobile devices. Kadokawa Games now brings us a pint-sized version of the RPG Maker engine for the Nintendo 3DS. The premise: Make your own games and let other people play them. Super Mario Maker, LittleBigPlanet, you get the type of thing. Is this shrunken down version of RPG Maker any good, though? Let’s find out.

There’s no story here, it’s a blank canvas for you to create your own tale. What with? The purchase of RPG Maker Fes entitles you to a set of tilemaps and sprites for you to use, with more available with DLC purchase (and more coming). Right now, though, the resources are somewhat limited, which will result in games looking the same. Having played a few of the community offerings though, I’m happy to report that this hasn’t stopped aspiring game developers from creating fairly unique experiences. You really can do a lot with what’s here from the get-go, and what’s included is actually of very good quality.

The music in particular is fantastic, and it’s something that has always been a highlight of DLC for the RPG Maker engines. Drawing parallels with the main series, though, RPG Maker Fes has a feature set similar to RPG Maker 2003 or so, with similar visuals. Don’t got in expecting RPG Maker VX Ace or MV.

This is not such a bad thing, though.

There are limited options to what people can do. You don’t have as much control when you create events, for example. And this is actually good: when people start off with game development, an overwhelming amount of choice can quickly become the downfall of your game-making aspirations. By limiting the stuff you can do to core actions, I believe Kadokawa has actually helped those first whetting their dev appetite.

With RPG Maker Fes you can create RPGs and upload them for other people to play. There’s even a free version of RPG Maker Fes which allows players to play these games for free (the limitation being not able to create your own game). This is both a huge plus for the title, as well as a bit of a drawback.

The appeal for sharing stuff you make is enormous, so obviously it’s a great selling point. The implementation though, not so much. It is really difficult to navigate the menus when trying to download and access online content. There’s a menu item for DLC, another one for downloading or uploading created content, another one for loading the content to edit it, and yet another one for loading it to play it. This is way too much and can confuse even a seasoned RPG Maker user like me.

When all is said and done, though, “RPG Maker Fes” brings game-making (and RPG making specifically) to the masses in an affordable, (mostly) easy to use package that delivers pretty good results. Obviously you can’t sell your games but a full-featured RPG Maker engine for Windows is a good step up that starts at just a couple of bucks.

While accessing the online content is a bit of a hassle, the quality of the assets is there for people to make really cool things, and even though the title is fairly new, there are already some pretty darn cool games being uploaded (which, by the way, can be rated and filtered when accessing online features). My personal favorite is “Man on the Moon”.

If you have ever been curious about developing games, “RPG Maker Fes” is a great introduction to the world of game developing logic, action-reaction, if-else statements and more. If you just want to see what’s up, though, feel free to download the “player” version for $0 (zilch) and give these community-created games a whirl.

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