So easy to use, a (VERY patient) child could do it!
To The Moon. Finding Paradise. Rakuen. OneShot. Corpse Party. The Witches House. These incredibly important indie games and more have one key component in common: RPG Maker. That’s right — these titles that have all received 10/10 ratings on Steam (save for Corpse Party) were created with the famous franchise, with the eighth one, RPG Maker MV, being one of the highest rated of them all. Originally released on PC back in 2015, the console versions have graced Switch and PS4 players; can those who have played these critically acclaimed titles create their own on their PS4s?
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m generally not drawn to sandbox games, and RPG Maker MV, a legitimate program and not a game, honestly requires you to have some sort of idea coming into it in the same way sandbox games demand boundless creativity. Touted as perhaps the most accessible program to make games, as creators don’t even really need to know coding to make their masterpieces come to life, RPG Maker MV originally received a 9/10 rating on Steam for its seemingly limitless options and ease of use. With its deep customization options and massive library of items, the console version of RPG Maker MV is sure to excite those creative minds without a PC. But does it compare?
RPG Maker MV is, perhaps unsurprisingly, charming from the word go. There’s graciously a tutorial right up front, but it’s gameified in such an adorable way where you perform mechanic-teaching tasks for your mother. She’s asked you to take something to a neighbor, but there are small hiccups along the way that you’ll need to overcome, such as making an NPC walk. Naturally, a tutorial that would teach everything RPG Maker MV has to offer would be hours long; luckily, the game cut it short, making only the core concepts a necessary lesson.
Unfortunately, it’s abundantly clear that RPG Maker MV was made for the PC when it comes to using the controller. Depending on your level of patience, this can feel like an 8-bit Minecraft with a massive amount of steps or like typing using a controller on your PS4 forever. The team did a pretty good job of compensating the loss of a mouse and keyboard, but it’s simply the nature of PC ports to console — some games work, and some games simply don’t. This is one I feel like falls into the latter category no matter how perfectly everything else runs. Sometimes, you just need a mouse and keyboard, and designing an entire game is just one of those times.
Although the controller slowed my efforts down when it came to designing a game, RPG Maker MV did a good job of making me feel like it was possible. It really is incredible how many options are at your fingertips, with the sheer amount of options in terms of character design, world-building, and battle creation. One feature I found really cool was the ability to change your battle from third person to first person view, for example. Unfortunately, without the ability to upload your own assets like in the PC version, creators will be limited to what’s available in the console library; luckily, the developers have plenty on offer, and it’s entirely possible they’ll add more asset packs as time goes on.
The coolest feature I haven’t had a chance to review since it hasn’t launched yet is the RPG Maker MV Player, a free application available for download where players can try out creations made on RPG Maker MV. You don’t need RPG Maker MV to take advantage of this, so it’s nice to think that the creations players make won’t fall by the wayside. It’s also nice for players considering purchasing the little game-making engine — a sort of free test run, if you will.
I will be blunt — I am not sure who the PS4 version of RPG Maker MV is for. While I certainly enjoyed my time enough with the engine, it honestly made me sad thinking I could spend all this time making a game only to not be able to sell it. Perhaps that’s just the game dev side of me coming out; after all, my time is fairly limited and I already have a passion project. If I’m spending my time on creating a title, I’d rather have the opportunity to put it on platforms to sell instead of keeping it on a console at the end of its cycle.
Still, as this is not the first RPG Maker to hit consoles, there is certainly a demand for the program off PCs, and it’s safe to say that not porting such a highly-acclaimed program would be a waste. For those who don’t have a PC but do have a story they want to tell and don’t truly care about how many people play it, I feel compelled to recommend RPG Maker MV for the PS4. This recommendation comes with a caveat, however; it’s not a game, rather coding for non-coders. You’ll use the same coding rules without any of the nitty-gritty, so don’t expect to have fun in the traditional sense. If you’re looking for a quick payoff, this simply isn’t for you. If you’re the kind of person to meticulously pour hours into Minecraft projects, however, you might want to give this a shot, but only if you have no ambitions beyond simply getting your game out of your head and onto your TV screen (and, honestly, no further).
RPG Maker MV for the PS4 is about what you would expect — quite possibly the best program for non-programmers to make video games with but on a medium clearly not made for it. Granted, the developers did their best, and it shows — truly — but there were limitations the team simply could not get around, like a controller instead of a keyboard and mouse and the inability to sell games that I find to be a let down. I can recommend RPG Maker MV for the PS4, but not over the PC version; still, it’s better than not having the title at all, so if you’ve been curious about trying your hand at game-making, let that curiosity get the best of you. Whether it be on PC or PS4, consider getting RPG Maker MV today (in that order).
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: PC, Switch, PS4 (reviewed); Developer: Kadokawa; Publisher: NIS America; Players: 1; Released: September 8, 2020; MSRP: $49.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a review copy of RPG Maker MV provided by the publisher.