Review: RPG Maker Fes helps you tell stories

Have you ever looked at or played through a game and thought, “Maybe I can do better than this?” People who have had such thoughts may have gone on to grab one of the various programs available for their PC to make those dreams come true. But what if you want to do that, only with a handheld console? Enter RPG Maker Fes, a program published by NIS America that allows you to create your own games. Other Nintendo 3DS owners with the software or free RPG Maker Player eShop application can then see what you have done (and maybe be inspired to try making similar titles too).

RPG Maker Fes throws you into an ocean of an editor and expects you to learn how to swim. Frankly, I am very thankful Graham and I began our video series prior to making my own game, as it was a huge help seeing him go through the first few steps before hopping in on my own. The official >NIS website helps a little, but you are 100% on your own here.

Fortunately, it is relatively easy to mess around and find your bearings in RPG Maker Fes.

Fortunately, it is relatively easy to mess around and find your bearings in RPG Maker Fes. The editor is not very complicated. You can quickly create something that works. Then, you press the Test Play button to immediately see if what you did worked. You can even “play” the game and save to discover if instances are working in every area as intended. It is a godsend, especially as you are finding your footing.

It helps that a lot of RPG Maker Fes is self-explanatory. Creating characters, items and monsters, making maps and setting up jobs and skills is as easy as tapping some buttons and typing in some text. It is very easy to assign values to thing and set various characters up. Preparing aspects of maps, like towns and dungeons, is equally easy due to an array of preset places you can pick from in the map editor. Combine this with the Test Play functionality, and it is easy to set up a one or two hour RPG within a few hours.

The only thing that might catch people a bit off guard is setting up events. This can eventually get more complicated. Yet even here, RPG Maker Fes has push-button ready option. There are “easy” events that automatically let you set up things like inns, shops, travel between locations and treasure chests. Someone just getting started with game creation could use all of the “easy” options to make a playable and very rudimentary project.

There were many instances where it would have been great if there were one or two more elements to use when building a game. One of the best examples is the page requirements. When making an event, you can make pages that cause different things to happen if you have certain elements on-hand in the game. The game I began making was an otome-RPG, which meant I had instances where I wanted something to happen if one character was with my heroine, but the others weren’t. Since there were only two possible requirements, I needed to use variables and other methods to achieve my goals.

There’s enough here to create some diverse towns, expansive dungeons, sprawling maps and unique characters, but the bigger your project gets, the more boxed-in you feel.

I would also have appreciated a few more character portraits, music selections and monster designs. RPG Maker Fes offers a Fantasy set out of the box. There’s enough here to create some diverse towns, expansive dungeons, sprawling maps and unique characters, but the bigger your project gets, the more boxed-in you feel. I would have killed for a few more character designs and portraits, as well as unique room elements. This means most of the games people make will look alike, even though they will be very different when it comes to story and themes.

It left me feeling like RPG Maker Fes begins as a rather basic creator that people are supposed to build on with DLC. I mean, there is a lot you can do here. But when I could not do everything I wanted with the editor tools easily and started hitting my limits, I started craving more content. Especially since you only get one upload spot for free and need to pay if you want more than one game uploaded to the database at a time.

But, maybe that is a good thing? RPG Maker Fes is an editor that works very well. It is really easy to create, find, play and share original creations. What you start with is enough to satisfy people who want to make basic RPGs that will probably take about five to twenty hours to beat. Then, people who really get caught up in the minutiae can invest in more elements to improve their experience. If you want to get an idea of what your final games might look like, check out Graham’s Michibikuest: Gaijin Gaiden and my Academonic with either RPG Maker Fes or RPG Maker Player!

Score: 8/10
Publisher: NIS America
Release Date: June 27, 2017
Developer: Jupiter / Kadokawa
Platform(s): 3DS
Questions? Check out our review guide.
A review copy was provided by the publisher or developer for this review.

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