RPG Maker Preview

Agetec is preparing to give RPG fanatics a unique opportunity to make their own fantasy-adventure worlds in which to play. Will it be worth the wait?

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Ever since Final Fantasy VII exploded onto the PlayStation several years ago, role-playing games have enjoyed a powerful surge in popularity. Titles like Legend of Mana, Vagrant Story, and The Legend of Dragoon are poised to become some of this summer's biggest blockbusters - and now, Agetec is preparing to ride that wave of excitement with the September release of RPG Maker.

RPG Maker is to role-playing fans what Agetec's Fighter Maker was to fighting fans - that is, a unique opportunity to create and play your very own game within a popular genre. The title includes a playable demo called Gobli's Adventure, which shows aspiring RPG makers the kinds of things that can be accomplished using the software. There are colorful, 2D sprite characters, animated creatures, spell effects, turn-based fights, character interaction, and many other familiar aspects of the genre woven into Gobli's Adventure. You can even edit the game to use it as the basis for your customized adventure.

Or, with a good imagination and a steady supply of patience, you can use RPG Maker to create your own unique 2D fantasy world to share with your friends. However, it really isn't necessary to start completely from scratch. The software supplies you with a large list of usable components to choose from, including 60 character graphics, 99 monster graphics, 30 magic graphics, 99 event graphics, 247 custom dungeon images, 26 dungeon backgrounds, 251 field-map images, and more. You can also select the background music for your adventure, assign 16 special abilities to each of your characters create items for them, define their stats, create both magic and special attacks, edit text, and even change the message speed. So, aspiring RPG makers have a lot of flexibility and room for creativity.

First, you'll need to develop some ideas for your characters, scenarios, map settings and so forth. Then, once you have a vision in mind, it's time to get those creative juices flowing by designing your game's title screen. You can choose from a variety of prerendered screens that can be customized to fit your story. Looking for an outer-space motif? No problem. How about pigs grazing in a cemetery? RPG Maker has that, too!

In fact, if there's a character, monster, or particular image that you can't find, you can always draw your own by using the game's handy anime maker. The graphic-design software offers a variety of menus, tools, shapes, and colors to choose from, giving you the freedom to design and animate your own 2D-sprite characters and creatures, literally pixel by pixel. Anime fans and armchair animators are sure to enjoy this deep and complex feature, since there's nothing else quite like it on the PlayStation. Just don't be disappointed if you can't achieve Disney-like results, since the 2D graphics may seem a bit plain in an age where 3D eye candy is in greater demand.

Still, with so many different ways to customize and create the role-playing game you've always had rattling around inside your head, RPG Maker promises to offer RPG fanatics many hours of time-consuming entertainment.

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