I’ve used a few game design software programs in the past. Usually, there’s a steep learning curve, and it takes a while to build your first game. With the RPG Maker Fes, I made my first map, characters, and monsters within an hour. The RPG Maker series is a user-friendly program that’s been around for years. Until now, the software was only available to American consumers on Playstation consoles or PC. RPG Maker Fes brings RPG design to the handheld platform. It’s only available on Nintendo 3DS and plans to include a unique, online game building community.
You start by designing your game’s map. You can create your own from scratch or choose a pre-made template. It’s that easy. When you select your map type, you assign it a nickname. You can then select one of more than 50 background songs to play while your characters move across the screen. You can add detail to your map by selecting dirt paths, stone paths, buildings, statues, trees, and more from the map creation menu.
Once you have created a map, you can add events at specific locations. Events include things your character can interact with, like treasure chests, stairs, shops, save points, doors, and more. For example, when adding a treasure chest event to a map, you can choose for it to contain gold or an item. The software allows you to select when the treasure chest event happens. Maybe you want the treasure chest to award gold when the character touches it. Maybe you’d prefer they investigate it first. For advanced users, you can edit the individual steps of an event. Maybe the treasure chest graphic switches from open to closed, but as a surprise fourth step, it changes into a boulder.
The Database menu allows you to customize almost every aspect of your game: characters, monsters, skills, professions, weapons, and more. Like the map and events, you can create these from scratch or pick from samples the game provides for you.
You can design your own characters or choose from pre-made samples. When making your protagonist, you can name him, give him a nickname and profession, choose a close-up and walking graphic, and type a short description. From there, you can get more specific about his starting level and how quickly he levels up. Standard RPG stats like HP, MP, STR, DEF, MAG, INT, and SPD can be set at this time. You can also choose his starting equipment, filling up to four item slots with pre-made or custom items.
Monsters are created in a similar fashion, but when creating a monster, there are several more screens of customizable content. You can assign XP and gold rewards to monsters. Battle settings allow you to set behaviors and conditions when your character encounters the monster in the wild. You can select up to four different items that the monster might drop after a battle, and the chance at which the items drop. If a character has a skill like Earthquake, you can choose for this skill to be ineffective against certain creatures. Finally, you can select monster elements (from a pre-programmed element wheel) and negated statuses. There are plenty of variables for a handheld game creation program.
RPG Maker Fes is offering a free RPG Maker Player app at the time the full game releases. Anyone can download the app from the Nintendo eShop for free, even if they don’t own RPG Maker Fes. They’ll be able to download games that peers have made, creating a unique community between creators and players. Currently, I don’t believe there is enough variation in available graphics to really set different peer-made games apart. Hopefully, the developers will allow players to purchase or upload additional graphic sets.
A basic text tutorial can be accessed from the digital manual on the home screen of your Nintendo 3DS. Although programming knowledge isn’t needed to create a game with RPG Maker Fes, this information is helpful for complete beginners. The tutorial doesn’t go into much detail about the more complex programming options available, but it walks you through the steps needed to get your first game up and running.
Overall, RPG Maker Fes is a simple, well-organized piece of game-creation software. It’s exciting to have something like this available on a portable, handheld platform. The developer could improve the software by offering a more in-depth tutorial, showing new users how to best utilize the more complex options available. However, it’s easy enough to use that this isn’t a deal-breaker. Thanks to this software, we can expect to see lots of new RPG’s on the Nintendo 3DS soon.
A 3DS review copy of RPG Maker Fes was provided by NIS America, Inc for the purpose of this review