RPG Maker VX Review
RPG Maker VX box art
System: PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: Enterbrain 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Enterbrain 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Feb. 29, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Become The Maker!
by Nathan Meunier

The early days of RPG gaming holds a soft spot in many hearts of many oldschool devotees. Wandering around insipid 2D map grids in search of invisible random encounters to grind in order to level-up, stock up on gold, and gain new abilities for use against the denizens of yet another dank pixilated dungeon is a pastime that should invoke a feeling nostalgia for anyone who's picked up RPG gaming in the earlier part of the past three decades. RPGs have come a long way since, but the basic mechanics are still appealing on a certain level to this day. Japanese game and magazine publisher Enterbrain has just unleashed the next iteration of a program that empowers budding developers and RPG fans alike to create their own dungeon crawling masterpieces.

RPG Maker VX screenshot

The RPG Maker series has a long history with roots dating back to Japan circa 1988. A slew of Japanese variations of the game were released over the course of a decade under various titles before RPG Maker eventually made its U.S. debut on the PlayStation in 2000. A sequel featuring 3D graphics was released on the PS2 in 2003, and the series finally made it onto American PC with the release of RPG Maker XP in 2005. The newly released RMVX incorporates some major components from each of the three previous U.S. RPG Maker titles, but it also includes some overall changes designed to make the program easier to use for beginners. You don't have to know how to program a single line of code to be able to reap full benefits from this package.

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The updated map editor - the one feature most users will find themselves dabbling with immediately - is excellently designed and simplified for constructing a solid foundation to work off of as you build your game. Various aspects of the map editor have been tweaked from past versions, and they make this portion of the game-making process a breeze. Several basic drawing tools including pencil, square, circle, and fill - an eraser is curiously absent - make it possible to easily select terrain tiles and quickly create the foundations for multilayered maps. The improved tiling system automatically forms borders between land and water, and it makes creating walls for buildings much simpler. A simple selection grid lets you choose which tiles are passable (players can walk on through them) and which are not. After creating the basic terrain, several layers of elements can be added to provide nice graphical touches.

RPG Maker VX screenshot

No self-respecting over-world map is complete without plenty of towns, dungeons, and special event locations scattered about for players to encounter. Using events, additional smaller maps can be made and linked to the main over-world map. This lets you create multi-level dungeons or sprawling town locations without mucking up your primary map. Numerous transition effects can also be assigned when moving from one map to another. If you're impatient or indecisive about how to form your dungeons, an automatic dungeon generating tool can do all the work for you with a few button presses. It forms the maze-like basic walls and floors of a dungeon, leaving the fun part of sticking encounters, treasure chests, and other features up to you. Stocking your realm with a plentiful supply of enemy encounters, treasure, NPC, story events, and other elements is equally simple.

The basic play mechanic foundation for any game you choose to create is already laid out from the start, unless you choose to substantially change the system. A series of database menus lets you make a huge range of adjustments to any aspect of characters in your game, from their appearance and abilities to how fast they gain experience and level-up. Likewise, you can adjust the properties of items, monsters, classes, status effects, animations, and much more. The interface affords users total control over all aspects of their game. At the same time, it makes the process feasible without being overly convoluted.

RPG Maker VX screenshot

Screenshots / Images
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