This is a solid tool that will enable you to create JRPGs with relative ease. And I would love to recommend it because it really IS a good and solid piece of software. Putting together a small game is a breeze- maps are designed in a WYSIWYG editor, there is a good default library of graphics and objects. And everything works just fine. Random encounters, multiple characters, shops, turn based combat, it's all there right out of the box and even a newcomer will quickly see his idea turn into something playable. In addition, you're free to release your game whichever way you see fit, even a commercial release is possible. There is a lot to like here.
Still I find it hard to fully recommend RPG Maker VX Ace. This is why:
1) It is very expensive. 60 Euros are a lot of money, especially if you're just curious and maybe want to make a small freeware game. The program has been on sale quite regularly though, dropping to 15 Euros, and that is a good investment indeed. But before you shell out even THAT money, consider getting the freely available "limited" version, which has everything the commercial release has, and only limits the number of objects that can be used. It's still absolutely possible to make decent games with it.
2) It is highly restrictive. You can make "classic JRPGs" with ease, but as a newcomer, you're truly stuck with the template RPG Maker provides. The interface, combat rules and attribute system are very, very basic and apart from a quick paint job there's not much you can do... until you're ready to dive into Ruby scripting.
3) Scripting is a pain. On the pro side, the Ruby SL is powerful enough to change virtually every aspect of a project. You can create your own combat system, you can create your own attribute system, you can create new interfaces and really make something unique. But the editor is so barebones that you can't really do it comfortably, and especially if you have ever used a more advanced code editor you'll soon wish you could write your code THERE.
4) It doesn't take advantage of ANYTHING. Multiple resolutions should be a standard these days, but here you're stuck with a relatively low native resolution that looks charmingly retro or crude depending on your personal opinion. Large games tend to stutter occasionally. And what about a decent options menu? Not to be found.
So that's the gist of it. If you like JRPGs, see RPG Maker VX Ace on a discount and feel you can live with the limitations, I daresay you won't be disappointed. It's really fun to make a plot-driven game and see your ideas walk around the screen. Then there is the vast amount of resources available; if you put some effort into it your game can look downright stunning. And there clearly IS a lot of quality in the product- it's not been around for so long for nothing and the Steam version with its Workshop support will defenitely prove worth your while.
But it could, and should, be so much better, more accessible, more comfortable to use- and that's where the tool lets you down.
Posted: February 28th, 2014