Tag Archives: RPGmaker VX Ace

Haven Review: Echoes of Aetheria

EchoesTitleFirst up is our disclaimer. We received this game for review purposes only, and as such all opinions in this review are our own. No money has been exchanged for this review.

The classic top-down role playing game, made famous in the ’80s and ’90s is making a valiant return. Not only are experienced developers reinventing the genre, but RPG enthusiasts and hobbyists are getting in on the action, thanks to accessible software engines like RPG Maker MV.

Presenting Echoes of Aetheria, developed by Dancing Dragon Games and published by Degica. The game is obviously polished and modern, yet at the same time preserves some of the dusty features found in the old classics.

Echoes1As the curtain lifts in the game’s intro, we take our seats at a wedding ceremony. It seems that our own Princess Soha is marrying the Prince of a newly allied nation. As the bride and groom kiss at the alter, a group of soldiers stroll in, scoop up the bride and casually walk out with her; leaving the wedding guests and VIPs stunned. Yes, it’s all very Marx Brothers. However this is where you, the player enter the picture.Echoes2You take the role of Lucian, a faithful soldier of the realm. In true RPG fashion, you begin with some basic stats and a small inventory of items. You also have a couple of active weapon skills. As your adventure continues, you’ll pick up additional weapons, as well as armor and other objects. Some of these items contain “sockets”, into which you can place gemstones to enhance their effect. The real power though, comes from “passive” skills you learn along the way. These are great because you don’t need to press a button or click the mouse to activate their effects; they’re always working for you.

Echoes14Of course, Lucian is the one who must venture out to rescue the Princess and fight off many foes along the way. Shortly into the adventure you’ll meet Ingrid, your first battle companion. When you encounter adversaries, position both Lucian and Ingrid carefully on the floor’s built-in combat grid. Assign attack orders to each character and remember to use healing and revive potions when necessary. As you gain experience, you’ll receive skill points with which to improve your abilities.
Echoes11bThis brings us to the combat system itself. While intuitive, it seemed a bit unbalanced at times. For example, the AI would often subdue Ingrid before she had a chance to execute her orders. Your characters do heal after each battle, but no experience is awarded to those who fall in the skirmish.

In addition to honing combat skills, the game also has you solving puzzles and locating collectible items. Pick up all shiny objects and press every wall button you see. While neither a side-scroller nor a platformer, Echoes of Aetheria often feels like both. Also, while the story is quite linear, I didn’t feel “on rails” as I have with other games in this genre.

So is Echoes of Aetheria worth it? Yes, it is. Priced fairly on Steam at $15 (USD), it delivers a solid, if not somewhat modernized take on the classic top-down RPG.
-Chris Roberts-


Haven Review: RPG Maker MV

First up is our disclaimer. We received this game for review purposes only, and as such all opinions in this review are our own. No money has been exchanged for this review.

RPG Maker MV is a software that has been used to make many great titles such as To the MoonA Bird’s Story and various others. It’s had a good run on Steam Greenlight as well, along with a lot of half-baked indie titles that many “designers” have put zero effort into making. You know who I’m talking about.carousel-logo-rpg-maker-mvBut despite all this, the software remains as versatile as ever with its newest iteration to replace RPG Maker VX Ace. The previous version has actually helped us start a project for our very first game called Chronicles: Heroes of the First Light and has been easy to learn. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s so simple a child could use it (as they advertise).

However RPG Maker VX Ace has been outdated for a while now, and has been limited by an old coding language called Ruby. A big issue is the platform. It’s strictly for Windows; no support for any other platform including mobile gaming. But as the times change so does the software, and the newest version comes forth.rpg-maker-mv-08-07-15-3

RPG Maker MV, now cleanly coded in Javascript, gives game developers a new level of versatility and a lot more stability. Games can be designed in glorious 1080p or higher resolution and ported not only to Windows, but also to Android and Apple products.  There is even a plugin written just for RPG Maker VX Ace, which will allow people to port their previous games into the new engine to help bring their titles to other platforms.

The learning curve for RPG Maker MV though is about the same as in previous versions, where you could load a person’s script and use it in your title. That hasn’t changed, except now it is just a more familiar coding language used by a lot of people. As always too, the RPG Maker community is incredibly helpful. With the new software being out only a few months, a wave of new plugins has already started to arrive; making game developing easier for newcomers and for those wanting to port their title.

Our own title has already been ported to the new engine and is progressing along smoothly. New features included in this iteration of RPG Maker now let players choose to include side battlers (as in Final Fantasy) or exclude them (as per Phantasy Star). This new setup eliminates the need for a lot of convoluted plugins and makes it easier for people to design a game they want.Screenshot 2015-11-09 04.39.59

Other new features include support for higher quality .ogg audio files. Although being honest here, I didn’t even realize MP3s were considered low quality until our composer questioned me about it. One of the new features I am trying to come to terms with is a plugin-enabled script. Back in the original software, each script we loaded had to have some degree of confusing instructions to follow which made things hard to understand. But in MV this is replaced with the Plugin command. Simply placing the desired effect into the Plugin command in the events section will enable the plugin.

All in all though, I simply love the new RPG Maker being able to use high quality images and audio. I can only hope the games we review down the line will be more gems to put into the chest of great works. Although I may not care for a lot of RPG Maker games (due to lack of designer effort), I know that someone out there will be making the next best titles with this software. I look forward to playing them.

-Daniel Clatworthy-

Haven Review: Secret of Magia

SecretOfMagiaFirst up is our disclaimer.  We received this game for review purposes only, and as such all views in this article our are own. No money has been exchanged for this review.    

Secret of Magia is an indie game developed by Lunatoid using the RPG Maker VX Ace engine. Both the game and the engine are available for purchase on Steam. Reminiscent of the early Zelda and Final Fantasy titles, Secret of Magia will take you on a perilous top-down adventure through lands of varied terrain. By collecting inventory and special abilities, your goal is to return 4 special objects to a big boss and earn 5 glorious Steam achievements. Unfortunately, as of this writing, none of the achievements are actually popping…hopefully this will be fixed soon.

Magia1The first order of business when starting a new game is to select one of two characters: male or female. Although you have a spiffy mouse cursor in the shape of a sword, you cannot use it here. With your arrow keys, guide a black orb through the doorway next to the character of choice (I picked male for this review). Soon you will choose one of 6 character-classes (I chose Paladin) and pick up side quests to complement the main story line. As your adventure continues, you’ll come across towns and other places crucial to your goal of collecting the 4 special items for the big boss.

Let’s talk towns. As per RPG standards, these settlements contain three staples of adventuring: markers, buildings and non-player characters (NPCs). Markers can be anything from a rock to trash dumpster…basically, a stationary item of interest. In Secret of Magia, a prominent town marker is the “Save Game” fountain.
MagiaTownBuildings provide a service, whether it be weaponry, food or simply a place to sleep. Lunatoid was thoughtful enough to include a hospital-type building, for quick healing after a hard day of getting yourself hurt.
MagiaBuildingNPCs are the most interesting of the town staples, as they offer clues to help you advance the story. Sometimes their assistance is direct; at other times cryptic. Either way, they’re always interesting to meet.
MagiaGroupThe open world is vast, and you’ll often come across creepy locales. Say what you will, but the classic RPG “dungeon” has always been my favorite spot to encounter anything; especially combat. Enemies are easy to spot in this game. They meander aimlessly about…until they get within a few hex spaces of you. Don’t get complacent, though. Rather than using a turn-based system, Secret of Magia offers real-time combat. Enemies can suddenly dart in your direction, hit you for damage and retreat to safety, all in an instant. I found it useful to hide behind nearby objects and then rush the baddies before they could get a jump on me…but those were just sewer rats. Sentient foes are much tougher! In addition to a standard weapon, your character must also juggle a shield, armor and a host of special accessories and spells.

MagiaDungeon2This game puts RPG Maker through its paces, and it’s up to the player to make it all work. The best advice I can give for the novice is: “Take your time!” The game sports training grounds and combat dummies on which adventurers can hone their skills. Personally, I’d spend equal time getting good with the myriad menus and sub-menus; switching items and weapons on demand: ESC/Enter/Space/Q/Shift/X…like a keyboard ninja (which is one of the classes you can choose, by the way)! I found the menu system quite confusing at first, but with some practice I got the hang of it. Of course we’re not splitting atoms here, but I’d kindly suggest that menus be a little more intuitive.

MagiaMenuThis brings us to our final point: game value. Is Secret of Magia worth it? The answer for me is an overwhelming YES. As of this publication, the game is on sale for $1.79 (US). Soon enough the price will shoot back up to 3 bucks…just so you know.

I’ve always been a fan of RPGs, dungeon-crawls and the like. Now that the RPG Maker VX Ace engine is available to all, expect to see many of these outstanding projects soon. Who knows, perhaps you could be the next great RPG designer! In the meantime, have fun with this one.
Secret of Magia Scale-Chris Roberts-