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RPG Maker Golden Week

I would very much like to win RPG Maker XP, as I really want to try and use some of the resources for my upcoming RPG, Valiance. I really am interested in XP because of many of the resources that look great, and even as I sprite custom resources for the game, there are some great tiles, like the trees, that I would love to use. Sadly I’ve not yet been able to get the maker yet, and so Golden Week is a great opportunity for me to try and get a copy. I’m really looking forward to being able to use the resources going forward with the mapping and level design of Valiance, as I work towards playable content containing all the game’s major features.

RPG Maker helps you make your own game. It makes this whole experience so much easier and lets you focus on the content of your game. Go check out the forum, it’s a pretty good community for getting feedback and has helped me a lot with Valiance.

RPG Maker

RPG Maker, to me, is simply about telling stories. From legends of brave knights rescuing princesses, to homages to your favourite childhood game, or favourite cancelled TV show (I’d be surprised if someone hasn’t thought to make a Firefly RPG), to transporting your players to the far future, where you tell a story of lawless robots and space pirates, RPG Maker is a tool that allows you to tell  stories and create experiences. With something this open, what you are capable of is only limited by your imagination, creativity, and passion.

There is also a great sense of community as different people with different skillsets teach one another new things, and even combine their skills, which can result in a game that is the work of many people from all across the world.

“Examples of some mapping in RMXP and RMVX, is currently the banner of this RPG Maker game review blog.”

What RPG Maker means to me is the opportunity to easily create a fun experience of exploring a vast world, playing through a gripping story, solving challenging puzzles, and battling the fiercest of monsters. Using resources that I have made, combined with those made by others, I hope to create something that is really cool. RPG Maker allows me and everyone else to do all of this really awesome stuff. That’s what makes it so great.

I wouldn’t call myself a game designer, I don’t study game design at university or anything like that, I just like to tell stories and I really think RPG Maker is a great platform for doing that.

Make Your Own Game

“The sky shines bright blue above the verdant Eskir Valley. Many travellers pass through here on their journeys across the continent.”

Relic

This RPG Maker VX demo starts with a piano playing over the custom title screen. The game introduction starts with an Irish-accented individual (yes, the game is voice acted) talking about a day in the past, when him and others were heading to the New World when a storm came. He was engaged to Annette, he found her and spent their last moments together during that storm. His friend Antoine Vivinci was nowhere to be found though. A mast began to fall and so the main character cut the rope of Annette’s lifeboat. He then got his foot caught as the ship “cracked in half”, and Antoine seemingly drowned. The main character woke up days later on an island, alone. It took him five years to escape the island. When he finally got to the New World, he learned that Annette’s lifeboat never made it there. The speaker says his name is Scatto and this is his story.

Scatto has a talking bird, Peeko, that he asks to dig up some potatoes, and they have a conversation about how he’ll do it. Scatto is entirely serious when he says that Peeko should pick up the shovel with his wings. Then Peeko goes to dig up the potatoes that run away and start talking. Peeko says that he knew the potatoes were alive and that Scatto just wouldn’t believe him. You then have to catch the potatoes that are running away from you. The text contains occasional grammatical and spelling mistakes, and some of the text has discrepancies from what the voice actors say. The interior mapping seems to have some wall errors. The conversation text is cut off at multiple points. The Mack tiles all look off, like the transparency isn’t correct or something. There are quite a few mapping errors, with clothes line being used as a fence around a farm.

“Even if the timer reaches zero, nothing happens.”

Then, a girl called Arianna, is trying to talk down a wolf that is going to attack her. Peeko hears her and then flies over to her, before flying away to tell Scatto about it. Scatto goes to help the girl. You pass talking woodland critters selling items and accessories.

“I just don’t get what is with all of the talking animals.”

You also have to pass through a cave and fight talking bats. Then a rat, who pretends to be my conscience, starts talking. His name is Remmington. Scatto doesn’t want help from the rat and so the rat says…

“Scatto’s name is Italian for jerk, with jerk meaning ‘a single quick motion of short duration’.”

The battle tutorial says it is the same as the Earthbound battle system. The battle tutorial actually referred to another game. It’s just a front view battle system. Battling consists of just using the Attack command for now. I have a Steal skill, but it’s never worked. You get a skill called Potato Peel when you level up, which does similar damage to Attack but for 2 PP. The Potato Peel skill I have is effective against certain types of enemy, but by the time I reached the specific enemies, the skill did half of my attack.

After finding Arianna, and helping her out, you take her to your house. I didn’t realise this, and figured we were looking for her grandfather’s house. There was a choice between a cave and a path at one point, I picked the cave, and it wasn’t the right place to go, so the story skipped forward. I figure out that I needed to go back to Skatto’s house. You can easily skip the scene where you take Arianna to Skatto’s house, and not even realise it. In one scene, Arianna calls Scatto out for talking to a bird, despite the fact that she was talking to the bird only just a few minutes ago. Arianna mentions the Relic. There is a prophecy that talked of the Relic and Annette (the missing / dead fiancée), and so Skatto wants to get this Relic, so he asks to join Arianna’s band of thieves, which she agrees to.

“I just realised, Arianna is really far away from Peeko, and yet he still heard her.”

You have to look for a book that is a few maps away. When you find the book, a bookworm comes along and says that it is his. Then you have to fight him. He will constantly ask you facts about books, which you get rewarded for if you answer correctly. It’s an idea I’ve not seen used before. However, there aren’t many questions, so you’ll get asked the same ones multiple times. Whilst doing all of this, you flick various switching building a bridge. However, once I had built the bridge, I couldn’t enter that map.

Back at Skatto’s house, they read the book. During the story, the voices cut out mid-sentence multiple times. They work out that they have to travel to Terra Desert. I’m not exactly sure why though. Then an ogre, looking for Arianna, appears, wanting information on the Relic. The ogre steals Annette’s necklace, and so, the party chase after him, walking over the bridge that was built before (the map that I couldn’t enter). In the search for the ogre, there’s a mine containing a switch you need to pull to reveal a bridge, but I had to use the switch multiple times to get it to work. In one part of the mine, an unknown voice sets a puzzle for Scatto. The reward is a key. In another part, there is a lever that affects a mine cart. However, there is an eventing error where the mine cart is off the track for a few seconds. I found a bug on a bridge I made appear, after crossing it, I couldn’t cross it back. The focus of the mine is on getting keys to unlock doors, with the aim of getting the “grand key”. The key I eventually get, however, is called “boss key”.

“The style of the monsters varies significantly.”

I fight the ogre that stole the necklace. I try to steal, to see if the skill has become useful, however the ogre doesn’t even have anything to steal. Also, Arianna does 0 or 1 damage to the ogre, so it’s just a matter of attacking with Scatto. After the battle, Scatto takes the necklace, and once  the party leaves the cave Scatto goes for a walk. The demo ends with Scatto talking to Arianna about Annette. A good ending to the demo.

The music generally seems well selected. Aside from the mapping errors, the mapping isn’t bad at all. There are some passability setting errors, however. The sprites for the characters are original and look good. All enemies are on the map, and they chase you if get too close to them. Running away from battles fails a lot, so your best bet is to be really careful when walking around the map. Battles are generally monotonous and just consist of attacking and healing. The damage is all done by Scatto, Arianna is only effective at healing. Battles can be frustrating with lots of physical hits missing. Some of the dialogue is fairly humourous. The voice acting is fairly good, with Arianna being the strongest. Scatto’s Irish accent can be a little grating after a while.  The voice acting cuts out midway through sentences occasionally. The game seems to break the fourth wall a few times. One item description reads “Try some of this in real life, it’s damn good,” another reads “ZOMG good”. All of the issues in the game suggest the game really hasn’t been tested properly.

“One of the many careless errors in the game.”

Overall, the story is just about a band of thieves looking for this mysterious “Relic”, but there is a lot of focus on Annette. It does seem a little too coincidental how Arianna looking for her grandfather’s house finds Scatto now living in the house, and the Relic she is searching for is part of a prophecy that just happens to also mention Scatto’s  missing / dead fiancée. The game introduces many of the characters that you haven’t yet run into, and there is a certain sense of intrigue. However, the games many faults will, ultimately, hold it back. *¼

Quest of Faith

This RPG Maker VX demo starts with RTP music over a custom title screen. The game starts with an introduction introducing Ike, the last member of the Cleter family. Everyone else died… but your brother is missing (I thought everyone died?). He’s been missing for a year, so Ike is sleeping. The mapping isn’t great. The house is only one wall tile high, but the windows are for two tile high walls. Lots of the dialogue is poorly written, there are grammatical errors as well as emoticons in the dialogue. There is no direction in the demo at all. There’s not much you can do as the game keeps reminding you that it is a demo.

“You would think the height issue would be obvious.”

“In what universe is this good dialogue?
His sister said that he drank 50 cans of soda a day, but still.” 

Arriving at a forest gate, two skeletons appear and attack Ike. The battle is just hitting attack, however, it nearly results in a death after a couple of missed attacks. A castle door is used as a gate along with fences. The world map grass tile is also used, for some reason. A girl called Midori finds Ike and takes him home. Ike leaves the house and is in a snow town. I leave the map and find an ice castle. I walk through a couple of nearly empty maps and enter the “boss room”. The character questions why he’s there and then fights the boss. Now, Ike’s health hasn’t been restored, so he has no chance, especially since the boss has 1000 HP… 15+ attacks worth. Okay, there is apparently a healing hexagon in that girl’s house, however I can’t get back there. So I restart the game. After healing at the hexagon and killing the boss, I walk through more boring maps. I walk into a house it becomes some kind of other dimension and find Bloodstone, king of monsters. He kills Ike in a fight. He then says it’s time to finish Ike off, and the demo ends.

There’s no direction in this game. The mapping is not good at all. I have no faith in this quest. I’m not even sure there was a quest. Zero.

“Maps like this are just careless.”

“Okay, I’ve decided that I simply have to write a top 10 column on “RPG Maker’s Least Nefarious Villains”.

This RPG Maker VX demo starts with RTP music and a poorly made title screen (it’s a white background with pictures of RTP monsters and the title written in italicised Jokerman). The game starts with a women asking a girl if she wanted to hear a story about a boy whose destiny it was to save the world. If you choose not to hear the story, the game goes back to the title screen. The story is that two strange men came to town looking for a rare and powerful gem (a scene which is then shown). The two men walk for a while then run into an old man who asks what they are doing there. They say that they are there for the “Gem of the Knights” and that the man better hand it over. The old man states that the gem is protected by the Earth Sage Dragon as the gem cannot be used for evil. The men say they’ll kill the man and then the dragon. You go into a battle as the old man and die from a skill called “Newclear”. The mapping is poor with either space or lots of the same sprite.

“They look like fun guys.”

Now, the scene jumps to a boy, Belhon, who has to go and see the elder of the town. Wandering around a town, there is a sidequest to fetch “5 flours” for a girl. There are  many NPCs you can’t speak to, many houses without doors. There’s a mix of town and world map tiles. There are lots of mapping errors, with objects being “in” the wall. There are cut off windows. The wall tiles were used incorrectly also. There are careless spelling mistakes, typos and grammatical errors. Also, “jem” is spelt with a “j” for some reason.

The elder wants your help getting the gem and rescuing his daughter, so he gives you the key to open the door near the cave. Wait a second… no he doesn’t. He gives you a key to a chest, which is hidden in the village and contains the key to the cave. I rescue the granddaughter from a cell in the cave and then there is a button puzzle, where you have to push buttons in a certain order, a button won’t even appear until it can be pressed, which makes no sense. The two bad guys may have been killed by the dragon, but then you have to fight the dragon and it’s an easy fight. In fact, the dragon summoned another dragon, so there were two to kill.

You are back at the elder’s house, and he spouts off exposition about gems and elementals. You watch a battle of four knights defeat these elementals. The elder then says we have to stop the bad guys from getting the three other elemental gems. There is no real direction at this point, and I have no idea where to go, so I stop playing. Zero.

“The mapping is just poor.”

Revenge Of Eithera

This RPG Maker VX demo starts with default RTP music and a poor title screen (the letters “TM” are in the top right of the screen). The game starts by telling me how to save, rest and fish amongst other things. There is odd capitalisation, bad grammar and bad spelling. The introduction talks about Examino, a thief and leader of a clan. One night, he goes to sleep. He wakes up in an unknown house. Whilst he was asleep he was “realised to be the saviour of a differant world”. This is a world of monsters under attack from Lord Kaka’s creatures (that is actually the villains name?). The text is just written so poorly.

The character wakes up in the unknown house. The mapping is very poor. The room is huge and near enough empty. A closed chest sprite changed to an open chest whilst asking if you want to pick the lock. The house is in a town, which is horribly mapped. There is such a misuse of the wall tile in interior maps.

“Most of the demo’s text is like this.”

Characters occasionally curse, however, the curses are censored. It’s pretty ridiculous. One prisoner seems to know everything that is going on for some reason. The main character references Lord Kaka. This is pretty odd as the villain has only been mentioned in the introduction, so the main character wouldn’t know anything about Kaka.

“What kind of name is Examino anyway?”

To leave the town, you need to find a letter for someone who is blocking the entrance. The letter is pretty difficult to find as it’s hidden behind a tree, so you can barely see it. After leaving, you run into a girl who is scared she is going to be killed for an unpaid debt.

“The ‘I got muged’ makes no sense. The story is that she owes money.
Unless she’s trying to come up with an excuse, but then why is she telling me to ‘fuck off’?”

You find the guy who lent her the money and said he was just in a bad mood. He then tells you why he was in a bad mood. The scene changes to an arena fight.

“This scene’s purpose was to show why Treez was annoyed.
Also, Treez, seriously?

The battles are just standard front view and turn based. A random character joins you at one point and learns the spell Fire. His Fire cost 20 MP, the main character’s Ice is 4 MP and his Ice II is only 12 MP. The battling is fine though. I progress through the game… and in one town there’s a gambler. When you speak to them, it allows you to rename yourself, but only to one character less than your current name is. I don’t get it at all. There’s a house that doesn’t transport you inside. You can’t exit to the south of this town, despite there being an exit, so I figure this is the end of the demo.

“I mean, seriously, this makes no sense. It’s just so stupid.”

“Didn’t you die already?”

There is no sense of direction whatsoever. There is excessive cursing. The main character’s name is Examino. You can’t run on nearly every other map. The whole thing is a mess. ¼*

Carry On

This RPG Maker VX game starts with the default title screen and some rock song. A text introduction starts. Tinaz talks about Eternal Happiness, which is captialised for some reason. There are many grammatical errors. A cat called Marcuz is introduced. He is fed by Tinaz, who is a princess, and is quite fond of her. For some reason, all of the characters’ names end with ‘z’. The cat notices that Tinaz is sad. The mapping is good, although it is RTP. The music all seems to be ripped but seems to fit okay.

“This is how the game starts, with Marcuz the cat.”

Some more text appears on the screen. A witch called Lunaz is saying that another lost soul wants to take the form of a human body. Oh, the lost soul is the cat. The cat will be made human in return for becoming a student of the witch. I get turned into a cat-human by accident, rather than a human, which the cat quite likes. Lunaz then tells me a “true story” that has been passed down her family for generations and generations.

Over four hundred years ago, the King of Jentionz wanted everyone to drink a magic potion so that they all would have the power of magic. It would intertwine with their DNA so that it could be passed down from generation to generation. Everyone was forced to drink the potion. However, as it was in put rivers and sewers, it affected animals too. It turned some of them into violent monsters. The King of Jentionz did this all to get rid of cat-humans, as they could use magic already, and he wanted humans to be superior. Humans agreed with the king and they developed a weapon called the “Kitty Killer”. It says how “Cat-Humans may of won the war …”, which makes no sense as we learnt that the human king won the war. So, the cat-humans want peace, but the humans are still mean to them (and presumably can kill them at any point), it’s a little unclear. Nonetheless, Marcuz is still a cat-human, he’s not been turned in a human.

That night, Marcuz (the cat-human) wakes up, and sees Lunaz (the witch) who is just “creating a potion that cures most of the worlds diseases”, however she hasn’t yet been successful in creating such a potion. Marcuz asks why she’s doing it. Lunaz replies that “Perhaps its because I want to help people but I don’t like people that much”. I don’t understand that, where did the “don’t like people that much” come into it? The screen flashes different colours, and some text asks Marcuz whether he remembers what things were like before he was born, to which, he replies with “Umm… sorta!”. The person talking to Marcuz is apprently called Marcuz. There is some more text. This whole scene makes no sense. I think it was a dream though.

Marcuz and Lunaz are going to meet Tinaz now. Marcuz has a fight with a monster. The battle system utilises Yanfly’s scripts; it makes a nice change. Marcuz has a couple of attacks and a couple of ways to heal. He also has some humourous feline victory phrases. Marcuz finds Tinaz who doesn’t believe that he was the cat. However, she invites him to a ball at the castle that night. The next scene consists of Hero Tinaz talking to Princess Tinaz. It’s some kind of internal struggle arc for her. She talks of doing something big tonight. There are a few spelling mistakes.

At the ball, Lunaz isn’t on the list, but Marcuz is allowed to stay. This is despite the Butler not knowing who he is. Tinaz could have been there to let Marcuz only in, but instead it’s a confusing scene that makes no sense. Tinaz appears and then wants to have sex with Marcuz. Marcuz doesn’t understand though. They drop the idea of sex and agree to meet in the forest that night, where they first met. As a quick note, aside from one battle, I have had no control of anything so far.

“Marcuz has a lot to learn about humans.”

Marcuz runs into a bandit who tried to get some $mack-a-roos, or something. I think it’s the currency. Suddenly, someone appears and starts reciting the Team Rocket monologue. The guy, Gentz, gets rid of the bandit for me. He agrees to go with me, as it’s dangerous. Monsters can all be seen on the map. Despite the battles being sideview, the monsters all face the front. Using different weapons gives you access to different skills. You can also learn and upgrade skills using JP. Marcuz seems to go home instead of meeting Tinaz. Lunaz lets Gentz stay the night, but binds him to the bed, by way of a curse, as she doesn’t trust him. We learn that Lunaz transformed Marcuz so that he could continue her work after she dies, as she has no faith that any human would do it.

“There is just no need for dialogue like this.”

Another Princess / Hero Tinaz scene plays out, Hero Tinaz kills the personality “Princess Tinaz”. Marcuz wakes up to meet Tinaz. Tinaz wants to release someone from jail. She talks about the creator of the world, Godz. After creating the world, he rested beyond the Great Gates. No-one has found the gates. Tinaz wants to. Gentz wants out, however, which leads to the following screenshot.

“The dialogue is just so poorly written.”

If you get spotted by guards, you get attacked. This makes no sense, as Tinaz is the princess of the castle they’re in! The castle is really great to explore, and avoiding the guards is fun, even though it doesn’t make too much sense. In the jail itself there are no guards. The guy who we are releasing is a thief who is due to be executed. There is a clown in this scene.

“This clown appears for no reason.
Later on, this sprite make a reappearance as a clowntitute that can give you a clown job.
I am not joking.

Kentz the thief joins the party. We head back to Lunaz’s house. Another weird dream scene plays. Marcuz is talking to Anti-Marcuz, they’re arguing about being flawed and subjective and objective truths. Apparently humans and cat-humans are the same species. Lunaz finds out that Marcuz went out of the house last night and curses him so that he cannot talk for thirty minutes. The party of five (Marcuz, Tinaz, Gentz, Kentz, Lunaz) set out on their adventure to find the Great Gates.

“The game is filled with these philosophical conversations,
which does little more than confuse the player.

Looking at the battle skills, there are a few issues. One instant ability doubles a character’s damage, but also doubles the cost of spell that consume HP. As he has no such spells, he can double his damage at no real cost. Also, you earn JP from battles, allowing you to learn and upgrade spells. I have upgraded some skills, but the upgrades seem to be identical, meaning I’ve just wasted lots of JP.

“…”

I fight a bounty hunter boss with only two characters. I think I managed to defeat him by luck though, as he killed one of the two characters in a single hit. The characters return to a house, and the following text is shown.

“I don’t even know how to react to some of this dialogue.
I suppose it’s supposed to be humourous.”

The character in question is still present in the next scene. Later, I’m using the skill menu and I get this error “Script ‘YEZ Weapon Mastery Skills’ line 1020: ZeroDivisionError occured. divided by 0″, so the game crashes. It is at this point I stop playing.

Overall, this game does some things right, but a lot of things wrong. It’s filled with so many confusing  scenes. The dialogue is generally poor, and the story isn’t good at all. I really like the mapping, however. It was good to see a different battle system to usual, however it wasn’t used that well, most skills that you could learn were not that useful, and there was no strategy to any of the battles. Oh, and all the characters names end with the letter ‘z’ for some reason. ½*

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