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RPG Maker II (PlayStation 2) artwork

RPG Maker II (PlayStation 2) review

"I wonít lie. I havenít made a single RPG with RPG Maker 2. "

I wonít lie. I havenít made a single RPG with RPG Maker 2.

Sure, Iíve made a few miscellaneous things. Built a couple dungeons, made some characters, designed a few attacks, molded some animations. Even came up with a solid plot. But thatís not enough. If you get RPG Maker 2 and think youíll just churn out some Final Fantasy scale epic before the nightís out, youíre in for one sad night. Thatís not to say youíll never make a tale worth telling; if you have what it takes, you can make this game work. If.

Youíll need a keyboard.

Yeah, you can type things in with your controller; the game doesnít require a keyboard to play. But if you have hopes of making an RPG before you become eligible for Senior Citizen discounts, youíll want one. Whether itís just inputting the names for each character or writing the final bossí obligatory ĎIím the best and youíre all screwedí rant, youíll have some heavy writing to do, no way around it.

Youíll need a love for fantasy.

RPG Maker 2 has everything you could possibly want for a fantasy RPG. A massive bestiary, filled with every monster type youíd care to name and a few you wouldnít. A complex building editor, capable of making anything from the tallest towers to the deepest dungeons. Perfect customization for a perfect fantasy world.

But only fantasy. You could conceivably make a modern day world and pull it off, but youíd have to explain a few things. Like how come no one drives cars, or why everyone uses swords and staffs instead of guns. The game has modern-day character models, but not many, so unless your RPG is set in a cosplay convention, youíre best off sticking to the way of Tolkien.

Youíll need the patience of Buddha.

Be under no illusions; creating RPGs is hard. Playing RPG Maker 2 gives you a great understanding of why companies like Square and Atlus take their sweet time. You have to create each dungeon, each town, each castle. Characters have to have names, have to have models, have to have attacks. Encounter rates? Set them. Encounter areas? Set them, too. You have to tweak each and every monster you create, make sure theyíve got just the right strength. Make them too hard and theyíre an annoyance. Make them too easy and theyíre an insult. Test, tweak, test, tweak, over and over and over.

And thatís the easy part. Even when you make all the dungeons and towns, even when youíve created every character and perfected every monster and set everything you could imagine setting, you still have to put it all together. You must face the dreaded switches.

You see, an RPG, any RPG, is essentially nothing but a bunch of switches. Example: You go see King Ventera in the kingdom of Honesta de Gameria. He tells you that his kingdom is under assault by the great dragon Zigfried, and if you go to the dragonís lair and slay him, heíll hook you up with his daughter, the Duchess of Bluberry. The minute youíre done talking to him, a switch goes on that opens up the dragonís lair. You go in, you slay the dragon, Honesta de Gameriaís property values go back up, everyoneís happy. Most importantly, a switch goes on that makes the king do what he promised, which would be adding the Duchess to your party.

That might sound somewhat simple, but you have to keep in mind: an average RPG has hundreds, maybe even thousands, of switches, and youíve got to keep track of everyÖlastÖone. If one switch is placed where itís not supposed to be, things fall apart. You could ask a little girl for directions and suddenly find yourself face to face with the end boss. You could examine a fireplace and get assaulted by a gang of robots. And cutscenes are practically nothing but a string of switches. Scribble them in a notebook, write them on a database, whatever it takes; keep track of the switches or lose track of the game.

Youíll need direction. Oh lord, do you need direction.

I swear this: If you donít have a good idea of what youíre going to do before you do it, you will never make an RPG. Youíll get a little bit into it, just making random things with some vague notion of putting them all together. Youíll realize, too late, that what you had in mind isnít going to work, because you didnít really have anything in mind. Youíll scrap the whole thing and start all over, same fruitless effort with the same fruitless result. Youíll beÖlike me.

Imagine a world. Create a plot; beginning, middle, end. Think up characters; think up monsters. Plan out every step before you take one. And then start.

Above all else, youíll need to understand.

Even if you get the keyboard, even if you spare the time and find the direction, even if you dedicate yourself and actually make an RPGÖit might still be crap. You might look back at your labor of love and learn that you really hate it. You might have liked it in parts, but hate it as a sum. You might think that youíve just wasted 50+ hours of your life. And while I canít tell you exactly what that feels like, I can only imagine it sucks. Big time.

RPG Maker 2 is a boring game. Itís hard. Itís tedious. Much work, with little, if any, payoff. But it doesnít have much choice in the matter; thereís no way it couldnít have been. On the flipside, itís also incredibly complete; so long as youíre looking for a fantasy world, thereís almost nothing you canít do within reason. But you have to be committed.

So if youíve got everything you need to make a killer RPG with this, one that you can share with your friends and truly enjoy, then go ahead. Pick up RPG Maker 2 with all due haste. But if youíre missing so much as one requirement, donít even bother. Iím telling you, from one lazy slob to another: You will hate it.


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Featured community review by lasthero (September 30, 2005)

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