Pocket-Sized Creation Suite: RPG Maker Fes Review
RPG Maker Fes is exactly what its title says it is, a game creation engine for the Nintendo 3DS that allows you to create your own Japanese-style RPGs. You can control nearly every aspect of the game's design from creating your very own heroes and monsters, to even making your own items and abilities. Anyone familiar with the prior home console versions of RPG Maker, should make a good idea of what they're getting with RPG Maker Fes. With that said, we have to address the fact that this means that RPG Maker Fes is going to have a limited appeal, due to the game being more for those who are interested in creating their own adventures, rather than playing something that has already been assembled.
This limited appeal is already a strike against the game for many the fact that, unlike previous entries in the RPG Maker franchise, there is no pre-built game to show you what the engine can do, doesn't help matters. As far back as the Japan-only RPG Maker on the Super Nintendo, the series has always featured a short, pre-made adventure that would allow players to see what was possible using the RPG Maker engine. With this missing form the 3DS outing, it leaves a void in the package that the player must fill on their own.
When looking at the creation aspect of the engine, you'll find that objects such as character sprites and portraits are limited and feel generic. The game's publisher, NIS America, has promised that more objects would be released for the game through the in-game shop, but the base game itself only contains assets for fantasy based game, which will prevent players who may be interested in creating a modern day or futuristic style of RPG. As of the time of this writing, there are graphics sets for download on the in-game store, but only a small portion of the sprites of free, and since the more substantial assets are locked behind a paywall, the creative facet of the game feels stifled, unless you're willing to pay for additional content in order to create the game you want.
Things don't get much better from here, as even playing another creator's game can be hindered on the creation software by not having the proper DLC on your SD card. This issue can be remedied by downloading the RPG Maker Player from the eShop, which allows you to play games created using RPG Maker Fes. Additionally, the RPG Maker Player is a free download and using it doesn't require you to own the actual RPG Maker Fes software, which further limits the creation software's appeal.
I hate to be so negative about RPG Maker Fes because I think it's quite good for what it is. The games you can create using the software are somewhat limited in scope, thanks to memory restrictions, but for something that allows you to make a full fledged JRPG on the go, it's a fascinating product. It's a shame that it's hindered by the limited, and generic, assets that are included with the game. Couple this with many of the game's additional assets being locked behind a paywall and it becomes that much harder to recommend.
If you are interested in RPG Maker Fes, then I implore you to download the RPG Maker Player from the eShop and see what you can make before you run out and pick up the creation software, this way you'll have a better idea if it's actually for you. RPG Maker Fes was always going to be hindered by its platform, especially when compared to its much more open-ended older sibling on the PC. I love the concept, but it's a shame that it ended up so flawed in execution.
Final Score – 2 / 5