PC/Mac/Linux
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Game Info:

RPG Maker MV
Developed By: KADOKAWA, Yoji Ojima
Published By: Degica
Released: October 23, 2015
Available On: macOS, Microsoft Windows, Linux
Genre: RPG, Game Creation
ESRB Rating: None specified
Number of Players: Singleplayer
Price: $79.99

Note: This covers the PC release of RPG Maker MV. There is an upcoming port to the Switch at the time of this writing, but it is a console oriented port with some key differences and thus is not a direct port of the PC version despite similar appearances.

Sometimes long-running franchises decide to run what looks like the same vehicle, but they switch out a new engine under the hood in the hopes of better long-term performance after an attempt to upgrade the overall franchise model. Sometimes this, while generally successful, is a mixed blessing in terms of performance and usability, as has proven to be the case with RPG Maker MV.

RPG Maker MV is the sequel to RPG Maker VX Ace, which was the pinnacle of the series prior in terms of potential and community support. MV went in several different new directions from VX Ace, including switching to a multi-platform capable engine and using Javascript instead of Ruby as its extensible scripting codebase. Some limited compatibility between the preceding makers is retained, such as the ability to use VX Ace sized tiles (32 x 32) as opposed to MV's (48 x 48), but otherwise, MV is not directly compatible with prior makers.

Like all RPG Makers, it is a top-down, 2D-based, roleplaying game creation program, specifically for turn-based RPGs by default. It uses a tile-based format as well, though the backend is now powered by a variant of the open-source Chromium web browser, meaning games created with this game creator can be made to run on multiple platforms, whereas previous makers were limited to Microsoft Windows, with varying levels of unofficial support for Linux and macOS. This engine supports all platforms mentioned officially, even having a considerable degree of support for official Android and iPhone ports of finished games.

RPG Maker MV
Highlights:

Strong Points: Provides an easy to understand GUI for creation of RPG style games; Javascript-based scripting engine enables lots of flexibility in the hands of a skilled coder
Weak Points: Poorly optimized web-based backend that can lead to bad performance; resource-hungry engine not suited for weaker computers
Moral Warnings: Optional RPG style violence; stock enemy battlers include references to demons, necromancy, and occult themes; some stock female monster art are a bit on the risque and scantily clad side

Graphically, not much has changed since RPG Maker VX Ace, as both engines have a colorful palette that tends towards high fantasy in PNG format. MV does include some default modern/sci-fi tiles and characters with some cyberpunk and grunge influences as well. The basic enemy battlers are far less generic "high fantasy" compared to VX Ace, though they tend towards the cartoony and even bizarre in theme, though they tend to be less "adaptable" for redrawing and remixing into alternative resources due to looking more unique. Animations, battle backgrounds, and a lot of other art assets are highly similar if not identical to RPG Maker VX Ace's stock resources, though in some cases are resized and upscaled since MV has a higher default resolution for rendering. There is a LOT of official DLC and community resources for any other theme one wishes, so the stock resources are by no means all that is available.

The musical styling is still high fantasy-oriented like VX Ace, though the quality is somewhat better and both OGG and M4A are offered by default, though MP3 is still viable for use. Both music and sound effects tend towards the orchestral as opposed to being almost entirely synthesized, which may not be the best fit for all games, though MV has a wide range of resources and official DLC for whatever genre you prefer. Controls are the same as any other RPG Maker. Keyboard and mouse are used to navigate the editor portion, while games can make use of a variety of control schemes, include gamepads and even touch supported controls.

Stability is a checkered topic because of the Javascript scripting and the move towards a Chromium-based engine. On the positive side of the ledger, Javascript is in many ways a quicker language than Ruby in some cases and much more widely adaptable to certain cases, leaving MV free to perform custom tasks even VX Ace could not do. On the less positive side, due to retaining PNG style animation style sheets (which can load slowly in some games), music trying to load all at once instead of streaming on-demand, and MV being surprisingly resource-heavy due to the Chromium-based engine demanding a LOT of processor power, this engine, and games made for it tend to sputter and die on low-end PCs.

Both editor and games, in general, can run quite well on multiple platforms, though it is heavily advised to build released games for specific platforms, like making one build tailored for Windows and another for Linux. On a sufficiently resource-heavy computer (anything with a reasonably fast multi-core processor and some form of a dedicated graphics card), only the most poorly optimized games will register slowdown, but much weaker computers may find this program runs rather poorly for playtesting and releasing finished games.

RPG Maker MV
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 78%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 3/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 75%
Violence - 7/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 6.5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 4/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Morally, we have some potential issues.

Violence is of the "give orders and watch it happen" RPG style, either in a front-view or side-view combat engine (assuming you include combat in your games), otherwise violence is not a factor. Language can be as clean or depraved as the creator intends, this is entirely up to the discretion of the game programmer.

The stock enemy graphics do reference things like demons, the undead, and various other stock trappings of fantasy RPGs, and there is a rather generic "God" enemy, though not identified with any particular faith or real-world religion by default. There is also some skimpy clothing and the requisite "Succubus" stock enemy included, but this is still nothing more than skimpy yet covered up in appearance. There aren't too many other red flags in the stock provided art save the usual, hexagram shaped generic "magic circles", should you wish to add a mystical or occult flavor to your game world, but this remains optional. Morally and ethically, all content is dependent on the intent of the designer.

At the time of this writing, RPG Maker MZ is now an option, and while it's recommended as a much improved and enhanced successor to MV, MV is still well worth acquiring if possible, as it provides a license to use MV assets in other engines and a lot of MZ improvements can be backported to MV projects. MV projects can also be transferred to MZ as well, making it worth having both since they share a lot of engine similarities under the hood.

For the purchase price, MV is a fairly reasonable product, and has some features MZ dropped that may make it attractive on its own despite some noted performance issues. Morally, aside from the above-mentioned notes on the stock resources, this is a product otherwise suited to all ages old enough to understand the basics of using a game creation program and is strongly recommended for those who want to make their own RPGs.

About the Author

Daniel Cullen

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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