RPG Maker 3 is the latest installment in Agetec’s well received series that allows all of the armchair RPGers in the world with a PS2 a chance to “have at it.”
Honestly, I was dreading being forced to read a manual the size of War and Peace to design a character! I was pleasantly surprised. The issues in the first two series have been addressed in the third, Enterbrain has presented a tool with a very intuitive and easy to use interface. To determine this, I picked up the controller and let the menus do the driving, I did not read the instruction manual. The method to my madness? How much would I be able to do without the manual? The answer? Everything. With at little patience, and a great deal of time, you’ll be hacking/casting/stealing (after all, YOU design the characters) away with your creations.
The easiest way to explain the tool would be to first explain the navigation setup. The path to creation is set up in four general areas; Characters & Items, The World, Story & Rules, and Data Management. The first three allow for creation, Data Management allows for the manipulation of what you have created.
Character Creation (of course it’s the first I chose, I’m a character design junkie) is extremely easy, the only caveat in this reviewers opinion is the limit of character faces.
I would’ve loved to have made my main character look like the guy on the box! You’ll not find any Sci Fi RPGs here, the styles are medieval, Lord of the Rings types. I had a character up and running, complete with special abilities to learn and a rather wicked attack in which would afflict the enemy with poison, in less than an hour. The character animations, however, are good considering how much customization there is.
Items, speaks for themselves, you can engineer items and their specs that your characters will encounter throughout the game.
World – A bit more daunting to this reviewer, as I’ve never had the patience for level/dungeon design. For those of you, like me, who prefer not to design your own world, prerendered worlds exist that you can change if you so choose. Graphically, the world looks good, not eye-popping, but not horrible either. They do their job nicely. With all that goes into developing the game, they put as much horsepower into the graphics that they possibly could.
Well, once created, we must play it.
The control scheme took the most getting used to. I found the response time to be a bit slow, and panning to look left and right seemed to take a bit long. Not game killing, just a tad slow. Also, you must turn your character in the direction you want them to run, then use the triangle button to run forward. Again, not game killing, just an annoyance.
The battle system is of the Active Variety, (think Grandia II) in which your characters bar must fill up before you can act. You then have strategy RPG elements in which you must place your characters in a grid, which affects amount of hit points taken.
The Music is very well done. Very appropriate for an RPG, from battle riffs to soothing instrumentals for dropping off at an inn for a nod. You can also choose weather sounds which are suited to an environment, such as wind or thunder. Sound effects are quite good and I was able to find a sound for just about anything I required.
As you would expect, with all of the design/creation going on, it is going to consume quite a bit of your memory card. Either clear one before you begin or purchase a new one.
All in all, Enterbrain has provided storytellers who lack a huge development budget with an affordable, easy to use platform to make their story come to life. Anyone who has the time to devote to this, will be able to create a respectable, next-gen worthy RPG. And that, friends, is worth the price of admission, in this reviewer’s opinion.
Now-back to tweaking the thief’s hideout-.