RPG maker 2003 is a polished and updated re-release developed by KADOKAWA, distributed by Degica and available on Steam since: 04-24-2015.
The history of RPG maker is a long one, with its very first release as far back as 1988 but limited to the Japanese market. Many versions followed until finally in 2000 it was released in the U.S. for the first time. Today we will have a look at the polished re-released 2003 version. It was originally only available for the Japanese market but found its way around the globe. RPG Maker 2003 is a game engine made for creating the retro early/mid 90’s style RPG games. The engine is rather simple to us, mainly because there is no need for knowing how to write code. Every possible option is adjustable in a window and all features are already included in the engine. (Like sprites, backgrounds, sound effects and more.) You are in no way limited to use the baked in features as you can import your own music and artwork to give your project your very own personal touch. There are many different tiles to use to create your map and it is easy as pie just select the tile you want and place them on the map. There are different layers on the map and you can choose to let your sprite walk over or behind certain objects like trees, buildings and so forth. The sprites have many different displays and you can adjust their level speed, strength, abilities and much more.
You can make a game with only one hero or a team of heroes to battle and quest over your homemade maps. Creating the maps and characters is probably the easiest part of making a game. The interaction with objects and or characters is a different story. Although it is made easy in this program (and you can complicate things as far as you want) a good RPG should have many quests, side quests, and conversations. So after giving my NPC a quest number, my “if/else” branch was ridiculously long. As far as I have seen there is a infinite number of maps and events you can create, as I haven’t reached the limit yet. (Believe me I have tried.) There is the option to use characters from different versions of RPG Maker using Game Character Hub. With hundreds of different map tiles and more than a hundred enemies to choose from there is quite a buffet of choices in the design department.
A bit of a disappointment are the very limited faces you can show next to a speech window. If there are 300 different characters in the game I think they should add at least 300 different faces too. Luckily there is the option of importing your own artwork, so the sky is the limit here. What the program doesn’t do for you is the hardest part of game creation no matter what genre it is. That would be a good storyline and decent conversations. Even if you have the best game engine and the most brutal hardware, you will still have to create your own story and quests. Although it may seem very limited at first, the option to import your own work and the ease of use makes this is a definite recommendation to anyone with the ambition and desire for RPG creating. No programming skills required.