PS2 REVIEW: RPG MAKER 3
Gamers complain often and loudly about bad video games, and how “they could do better.” Well, now gamers can put their money where their mouth is with “RPG Maker 3.” But gamers might start up “RPG Maker 3” and say, “I can do better.”

“RPG Maker 3” is the newest installment in the “RPG Maker” series, which has been mediocre at best. The series has given the players the tools to create their own vibrant RPG worlds and pen out a deep, heart-wrenching story, but the difficult controls have always held the series back. “RPG Maker 3” shares several of the problems that its predecessors had before.

The first problem with “RPG Maker 3” is the learning curve. It’s steep. Like mountain steep, or even walking-off-a-building steep. The first time you play you’ll spend hours just learning how the game actually works, then days trying to learn all of the various tricks; which immediately deters most potential players. Of course, this learning curve can also be seen as a good thing, because it means that the game has tons of features built in.

“RPG Maker 3” has an abundance of features for you to use, ranging from a world editor, character creator and story editor. Each of these has tons of options, which are interesting to explore, but many have frustrating limits. For instance, the world editor is difficult because you have no clue what your world will look like until you preview it, which takes far too long to load. You do have completely control of how your world will appear, but it generally will take far to long to get anything that looks like a decent world map and you will most likely just give up and edit one of the pre-made maps. Also part of the world editor is the dungeon and town editors, which are truly lacking. The town editor allows you to place the buildings into town, but you can only choose from a small number of town templates, ranging from things like a good castle, an evil castle, a small village, and a really small village.

The dungeon editor is truly a test in patience, as it takes far to long to fix minor problems like stair locations and the dungeons are just bland, no matter how much you try to make them look cool. You can pick what the dungeon’s shape will be and what the walls look like, but no matter what, the characters are just running through a long, brick hallway making the same running sound. Strangely ironic, you can’t make many of the stereotypical dungeons, such as the evil forest, the ice/fire cave, or the such that you see in every other RPG.

The character editor is also lacking and is definitely the lowest point in the game. Character design is limited to four variations of several different characters. In other words, when making your character, you choose from a one of four colors of male or female warriors, wizards, thieves, kings, etc. So, no matter what, your main character has a high probability of being exactly like your best friends main character. Also, most of the character designs aren’t really that great. The “Adventurer” design looks like a William Wallace-look alike, the Witch looks like an old lady in a Halloween costume, and the Ninja looks like Master Chief with a backache. Another thing is that only certain designs are equipped with certain weapons. If you like how a character looks, then you have to make that character use that weapon. The only person that can use an axe is a dwarf, the only person that can use a great sword is a knight, etc.

While the skill and monster editors included in the character section are kind of fun, they’re just like the characters, near identical and lacking any individuality. You choose between three different size categories for monsters, then choose from one of the various templates. Then that’s a monster. Give it HP and an attack value and it’s done. Even if you do go in-depth, give it tons of special skills, and give it all of your own personal touch, it is still the same as any other creature.

Another thing that is strangely missing is online support. This game would be an obvious choice for an online community. A good design choice would allow people to download new designs and story effects and be able to trade their creations online with other people.

It is the story editor that saves this game from complete and utter failure. The story editor is the best part of the game, but also the longest. This is where you can create the deep stories that are found in RPGs. You can create scenes and dialogue between characters, but you definitely need a keyboard, or else it will take hours to type out a scene. This is also where a lot of the behind-the-scenes work happens and you spend a lot of time working out things such as character lines, story branches, cut scenes, and the like. This will take the longest amount of time to create and lots of play testing, but is the most open and customizable part of the game.

Finally, once you spend hundreds of hours creating characters, monsters, items, and story plots, you might be so tired of your own game that you probably wont want to even play it. You can always trade with your friends, but that is only if they own the game as well and have the memory card space to save to game files.

All in all, “RPG Maker 3” is another mediocre game in a mediocre series, but is worth the time if you are an ardent, and I mean ardent, fan of RPGs and quite possibly that guy who plays DM during your friend’s Dungeons and Dragons campaign. If you’re not either of those, avoid this game like the plague, as it will hold no interest for you.

Preview by Devin

Have you ever played an RPG and wished that the story had turned out differently? Or did the thought, "Damn, even I can make a better game than this!" ever pop into your head? Now, with the help of Agetec Inc, you have the power to create your very own RPG saga with RPG Maker 3.

Compared to past RPG Maker titles which were limited to 16 Bit 2D graphics, RPG Maker 3 harnesses a fairly decent 3D engine. That doesn't mean you should expect some cutting edge graphics, because the game's engine is centered on the design aspect, and doesn't focus too much on the actual gameplay itself.

RPG Maker 3 can be easily summed up into three sections; the world, the characters/items and the story.

The world creation engine is pretty in-depth. Here you can create pretty much anything in the physical world. You'll have a list of buildings, foliage, and water/lava bitmaps to choose from. There are also tools that will allow you to change the height or depth of the land, so you can create a little valley full of lava, your imagination is the only limitation.

Now this may sound moderately simple, but creating a single town or dungeon can be fairly time consuming. For those of us who like to just throw things together and play, RPG Maker 3 offers up sample maps, so you can plop down a couple of towns and dungeons, then get to playing. Samples are also found in the character and story sections as well.

The character section is where you will begin to populate the world you've created. Character creation in RPG Maker 3 isn't just about what your characters and NPC's look like. Here you can control what type of class they will be (warrior, archer, etc.) and even edit their stats and abilities. This feature is also available with the monster classes. So ideally you can create a bunch of weak mobs to sweep through.

Creating your story will most likely take the most time, because up till this point we've got the world and its characters. Now you'll have to create everything else, ranging from the dialogue, to the world events (night and day), background music, sound effects… Whew, there's a lot to cover in a game! One of the more disappointing and frustrating aspects you'll find in RPG Maker 3 is lack of keyboard support. So for your entire dialog, you're going to have to input every character with your PS2 controller.

A key feature that is no where to be found, is online support. It would be nice to spend all this time creating a world and its story, then to be able to share it with the rest of the world, or on the other hand, to be able to download somebody else's story and journey through their adventure.

All in all, if you're interested in making your own RPG, then RPG Maker3 may be the way to go. But be forewarned, making your own RPG will be about as time consuming as leveling up your World of Warcraft Paladin to level 50.

System: PS2
Dev: Enter Brain
Pub: Agetec
Release: Oct 2005
Players: 1
Review by Erik
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
2.5
GRAPHICS
3.0
CONTROL
2.5
MUSIC/FX
3.5
VALUE
3.0