RPG Maker 2003 is an older model of RPG maker software however despite its age it is also new. Because it was originally launched only in Japan and it wasn’t until this year that it was launched globally on steam. Now with that being said this will be in comparison to the RPG Maker I use a lot of the time and that is RPG maker VX Ace.
RPG Maker VX Ace in a lot of ways is superior of 2003 Edition of RPG maker with how it is extremely customizable in all the options and the ability to write and use scripts to create whatever you want. RPG Maker 2003 does not have this option. What it does have, however, is a simplified way to build a game.
You see in RPG Maker VX Ace it is an extremely complicated system because you can customize so much of it. You can even give it mode 7 so your world scales from an angle to look like Final Fantasy VI if you wanted. Another script you can add will make the game look like Doom III if you wanted it too. The only thing to hold you back is your own skills.
Part of the charm of the original 2003 RPG Maker was that it was so simple even a child could master it. The entire software was built on the principle of making a side battle system essentially like a Final Fantasy title. While RPG Maker VX Ace can do it too,you would need extra scripts for it. Some of these scripts you would have to pay for to use commercially. Another downside is that there is very little support from the creators if you have questions. By default, RPG Maker VX Ace has a face forward battle system much like the Phantasy Star titles from the old genesis era of gaming.
Despite the many differences between the two programs each has the same principle when building worlds. Making events with a simple click interface which is really useful if you cannot program like the professionals can in Unity or Unreal. It also helps to know talented sprite artists who can help you create a world all your own. (Kinda like us on our current project.)
In the end if you want to make a role-playing game and don’t want to pull out your hair studying every inch of RPG Maker VX Ace, than RPG Maker 2003 is the software for you even more so if you want to get the software because you enjoy Final Fantasy and want to make a game in that type of format (albeit the classic era Final Fantasy and not the modern titles). If you want a more complex over the top game and can dedicate time and the irreparable gray hair that will soon follow from it then I totally recommend RPG Maker VX Ace. It may have a huge learning curve but it is incredibly dependable with the right scripts.