Alright, we’re back y’all. So, first thing’s first, there’s been a new development. Like the fool I am, I recently discovered that TungerManU made an updated version of the iceberg like, days before I put up the first part. The entire bottom tier is also changed, which wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that I decided to start from the bottom because I figured those were the hardest ones to talk about. So hey, I guess I’m going to have to write a third entry to cover all the new stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed writing all this, but it is also very tiring. Please give me money.
Without further ado, let’s get on with it. Check out the first half of this if you haven’t already, I guess.
For the most part, this layer is stuff that you’d only know if you were In There. A bunch of these games were big on RPGMaker.net, but lacks any real impact anywhere else.
…Except for this one, kinda. If you were or are into the RPG horror scene, you would surely know about Corpse Party, the franchise by Team GrisGris about a group of students stuck inside a murderous alternate reality version of their school. It was a fairly popular game that’s had a bunch of remakes and adaptations, including a remake that came out earlier this year.
But, did you know that Corpse Party originated in 1996? As it happens, the original version of Corpse Party was made for the PC-98 using the original version of RPG Maker, RPG Tsukūru Dante 98. It won second place in the 2nd ASCII Entertainment Software Contest, run by the ASCII Corporation, who were the original creators of the RPG Maker line until Enterbrain spun-off from them.
Unfortunately, because of the nature of the PC-98, it’s difficult to actually play today. That said, there’s a fan remake called Corpse Party – Rebuilt – developed in RPG Maker XP that aimed to be a close approximation of the original PC-98 game. This later got a translation by the Memories of Fear translation group (who actually retired early this year, RIP), allowing English-speaking people to play the closest thing to the original vision. Sometimes, you gotta take what you can get.
A Blurred Line is an RPG Maker 2000 game developed by Lysander86, and it’s apparently considered to be one of the best games made in that specific engine, if not the best. It certainly is one of the earliest games on RPG Maker.net, just look at that URL.
In a cyberpunk world, a blue collar worker named Talan finds himself accused of a crime he did not commit. And so he goes on the run, meeting new people and digging into a rich world while trying to figure out who’s behind all this. There’s a lot of praise for its story, with the graphics being seen as the weakest aspect (something the creator acknowledged himself), but really, you don’t have to look good to tell a good story.
However, the story isn’t finished. A Blurred Line was intended to be one whole big game, but it ended up being split in two. A Blurred Line is the first part of the intended saga, while the developer planned everything else for a second game, Line’s End.
…Which unfortunately hasn’t come to fruition. While the last version of A Blurred Line came out in 2007, it’s almost 2022 and it seems like Line’s End is just gone. Unfortunately, this is probably the story of a lot of games out there.
Star Stealing Prince was a 2011 adventure game directed by Ronove. Remember when I wrote about the Misaos, that RPGMaker.net awards thing that honored RPG Maker games made that year? Star Stealing Prince made a near clean sweep of the 2012 iteration, so this is definitely the Good Stuff.
Prince Snowe rules over a kingdom where it forever snows but the plants bloom without issue. It’s seemingly an idyllic place, but after a mysterious dream, he realizes that there’s much more to the glimmer behind the kingdom and his family. And so, he sets out on a quest that uncovers the truth of the royal family that he feels that he must atone for while maintaining the peace that’s been cultivated.
The game would later have a sequel, though, not in the form of a game. Ephemeral Prince is a web novel separated into different sections, following different parts of the game. It’s highly advised that you actually play the game first if you want to check this out.
…However, that’s not the end for Star Stealing Prince. Earlier this year, the Ronove started working on a new Definitive version of the game in RPG Maker MV, updating the art of the game and integrating new content. The demo is currently up on itch.io, so maybe consider checking it out and pitching in feedback.
Outside of the saga of the Star Stealing Prince, Ronove‘s also made a few other visual novels. Now, Star Stealing Prince and another game, Homework Salesman, were co-developed with a developer called Diedrupo. I sincerely have no idea what happened to him, especially since he doesn’t seem to be involved with Definitive. Like hey, if there’s a good reason for this, please let me know.
On the subject of big RPGMaker.net games getting updated commercial versions, we now turn our eyes to Hero’s Realm, by kentona. It is reportedly one of the best RPG Maker 2003 games that’s an actual RPG.
Hero’s Realm follows four separate groups of characters in the first four chapters and brings them together for the last, where the game becomes a huge open world with the ultimate task of defeating the demon Mephistocles. If you like SNES styled RPGs, this is something for you. It’s the classic experience of somebody making a game in the vein of their favorite games, and Hero’s Realm reportedly pulls it off pretty well.
Kentona announced development of Hero’s Realm: Heroic Edition in 2017 and has been collaborating with other members of the community (Avee, zDS, pianotm, visitorsfromdreams, and mattthulhu) to get it done. While there was a big setback early in the year, the game is pretty well set on resources, so maybe we’ll see the Heroic Edition soon?
Also my god, take this as a reminder to backup your projects. Don’t rely exclusively on the Steam Cloud for this.
In general, kentona’s been a pretty prolific member of the RPGMaker.net community with a whole bunch of RPGs under his belt, along with community created games he helped organize. And also he worked on a whole bunch of Super Mario Bros X fangames. Oh wow, that fangame engine is still going strong while Nintendo stopped supporting Mario Maker 2. Owned.
If you’re still scratching for some old-school JRPG action, there’s also Theia: The Crimson Eclipse, by LolloRocketDiver/OnDead Games. It originally released in 2016 in the developer’s native Italian, and it became available in English in 2019 with the help of the translator CrawlingChaox. There is also a German translation provided by SuperSebbl and a Spanish translation by Pizus.
The world of Theia is powered by Atlas, a mineral energy resource that’s in danger of running out. A party of misfits finds themselves drawn together in the name of the Red Crystal, a mysterious resource that’s supposedly the key to addressing the looming energy crisis. Boasting a 40+ hour playtime, Theia is a fairly hefty, fully free experience.
Hero & Daughter was a game developed by tachi that got a translation by good ol’ vgperson. It’s also a pretty awkward name that’s non-indicative of the actual content since this is a harem RPG dungeon crawler. This game had previously won 1st place at the the 4th Nico Nico Indie Game Festival and apparently won a prize from Koichi Nakamura, the lead director of the first five Dragon Quest games.
The default RPG Maker VX hero Ralph was an all-powerful hero… until he’s cursed to be stuck at Level 1 forever. With the aid of a summoner, he can summon powerful magical ladies to fight by his side. Head into dungeons to level up and equip the girls while raising Ralph’s stats so he doesn’t just eat shit and die. And given the nature of the game, there’s absolutely a lot of character interactions between him and the girls.
Vaka Game Magazine, who helped publish the Steam versions of Angels of Death and Noel: The Mortal Fate, returns to this iceberg to put out an official English version in the form of Hero & Daughter+. I’ll be honest, this is probably an okay game but I think the Steam trailer is just cringe.
The way I see it, you’d only really know about these games if you’ve hung around RPGMaker.net for a long time.
The Way is an episodic RPG Maker game by LunCalsari made in RPG Maker 2000. Developed over a four-year period, The Way was a fairly acclaimed game in the early 2000s on RPGmaker.net, winning a lot of the early Misaos.
The world of The Way is a nomadic one where everyone must continue moving, lest they be caught in a moving mist. The protagonist, Rhue, finds himself on the Way following the vague memory of a woman named Serena.
It’s a standard RPG that has ambitious gameplay decisions. Instead of typical equipment, you have “auras” to equip and level up that you can readily switch between, and you can also grow your stats through getting your sword to absorb stuff. However, if you don’t care for the gameplay aspect of The Way, you can apparently just turn off most battles to focus on the story – a decision ahead of the curve for RPGs.
Since The Way, the creator ended up collaborating with Something Classic Games on their 2017 RPG, Shadows of Adam. Besides that, I’m not sure what else they’ve been up to.
The nature of the RPG Maker community is that there’s a lot of games whose developments wind up being dropped or just lost to time. I talked about this a long time ago with RPG Maker Preservation.
Romancing Walker was nearly one of these lost games. Originally made in RPG Maker 2000 by Flare under the name With Walker and translated to English by rm2Kfanboy, this was released in 2001. A young man named Ryle goes on a journey of self-discovery! And also, he can date a girl. Yeah, another harem RPG where the rest of the party are women and there’s a big dating sim aspect to hook up with one of them.
For those that’d wish to try it or learn from it, it was re-uploaded in 2014 by Areman as part of an initiative to archive old RPG Maker games. In fact, they got a whole bunch of different games uploaded besides Romancing Walker.
Also, if we’re talking about lost RPG Maker games, what about games developed on the console versions of the engine that don’t have an online infrastructure to share stuff on? Hell, even the ones with an online infrastructure is fucked since it doesn’t look like you can upload games beyond that structure, so good luck playing anything like, I don’t know, Jawnsunn Quest. As a little post-ending thing, the creator of the game explains that this game was actually a sequel to a game called Dragon Valkyrie, which she made on RPG Maker 3 for the PS2. And well, for obvious reasons, no one’s ever playing that.
Speaking of Areman, they also came in to save Sunset Over Imdahl, originally made in RPG Maker 2000 by Teo Mathlein in 2005. The sole survivor of a destroyed town, a young boy named Lohn is given the chance to go back in time to prevent the tragedy in a completely story-based adventure.
I’m not sure if the creator is the same person as this one concept artist I found. However, while digging into it, I found that Sunset Over Imdahl was uploaded to the Internet Archive, and with that, I discovered that this Teo Mathlein had also made a game called Wilfred, the Hero, with Brandon Abley. That game also has an RPGMaker.net page where it was cancelled in favor of remaking it in Unity… which hasn’t surfaced, and Abley’s devlog doesn’t seem to exist anymore? Well, at the very least, a soundtrack for this game still exists.
Going back to the subject of RPG Maker games translated to English, we have Moon Whistle by Kōichirō Takaki/Kannazuki Sasuke, developed in RPG Maker 1995. It is also the lowest game on this iceberg to be graced with a Wikipedia page, which isn’t surprising since it won multiple Japanese contests. The game was also remade in RPG Maker XP, which is good, because the original version was exclusively hosted on a really old official RPG Maker webpage that no longer exists.
The game is divided into episodes, following the antics of the young boy protagonist Zenon as well as that of the X-Ranger who is (probably) an older time traveling version of Zenon helping the people of the past.
Unfortunately, while it does have a page for it on RPGMaker.net, translation was not finished and is likely cancelled entirely. At the very least, you can still download the XP version in its original Japanese.
Outside of that, a spin-off called Another Moon Whistle was made in RPG Maker 2000 and there was a mobile game called Boku no Sumu Machi (ぼくのすむまち, or, My Home Town), and while the original version no longer exists, it was remade in RPG Maker VX.
Middens was an RPG Maker XP game made by revolverwinds/John Clowder and is probably the closest thing to a Yume Nikki-type game being an actual RPG (besides OMORI, I guess?). You are the Nomad, a wanderer in the Rift, which is a collection of dead worlds all stitched together. Coming across the talking revolver, Genie, Nomad takes them in hand to wander around and kill people.
The world of Middens is portrayed through a collage art style, from the environments to the enemies to the dialogue being a mish-mash of stuff taken from other sources. While there are many inherently hostile enemies, you can engage anyone in a fight by shooting Genie at them, who is eager to clean up the Rift with a bloodbath.
Middens was followed up by other games, but who cares? There’s this whole call-out on Clowder being a predator, which led to him just dropping off the internet and leaving him to release his commercial game with no marketing or fanfare. And as someone that was on tumblr during this era, I fully trust everything there because the blog was set up by someone that was essentially Clowder’s community manager.
So hey. Remember me mentioning how Cope Island was one of the winners of the IGMC OneShot was submitted to but ended up getting the short end of the stick? Well, before Cope Island, zDS made Three Ghostly Roses.
Edmund Brigham is an amnesiac man in a place he does not know. With only the image of a ghostly rose in mind, he sets out for the Garden Tower, where he’s told the answers to his problems may lie. The game is short and its combat notably only features the one character, demanding that you be efficient with fighting to get through.
Before Three Ghostly Roses, zDS envisioned it as Four Ghostly Roses. In recognizing the flaws of the original version, he edited the game down to something more focused that’s been appreciated by the community. I don’t know, it’s always so fascinating to see the steps a game takes into becoming what it is.
zDS worked on a few other games and is even a contributing developer to Hero’s Realm: Heroic Edition.
And we have one last game, Konosuba! In the Life, a game based on the hit isekai property Konosuba. You may think, “oh, somebody made a Konosuba fangame.” And you’re actually wrong there.
This was actually an official game developed in RPG Maker VX, which was bundled in as a special bonus with copies of the first season DVD/Blu-Ray of the Konosuba anime. Though, unlike the Angels of Death anime tie-in bonus game, this does not exist in an official capacity outside of the DVD, let alone with an official English translation. I don’t really know what to say about it, I don’t know anything about Konosuba to say if it’s loyal to the source material or not. I’m researching RPG Maker games here, not isekais.
An English translation effort was started by the translator yuNS. The project was later taken back up by CyanideBlizzard and with help from NinetyTwo of the Gungnir Heart translation group, you can now easily check this game out if you’re a fan of the property.
Except for Palette, I’ve heard of none of these games.
In 2014, a creator going by Rinne-dou released Gokuto Jihen, or, Underworld Capital Incident. In this game, underworld escorts are people that capture hostile ghosts threatening the world of the living to bring them back to the Underworld. You played as the underworld escort Kirishima to capture the spirit of a vengeful ghost girl at her school. At the time, this was a reasonably popular RPG horror game.
Far lesser known is a small sequel, FILAMENT, which was released in 2016. Now, did you know that there are official RPG Maker sample games? Well, looking into this game brought me into the rabbit hole of Nicovideo’s browser game portal. There’s probably a lot of cool things in there if I understood Japanese at all. Anyway, RPG Maker actually has an official channel there where they posted some sample games to help demonstrate the browser capabilities of RPG Maker MV and MZ games and as it happened, FILAMENT is one of them. I guess the engine creators approached known developers to make games to show off the engine, which is kinda cool. It makes me wonder who the other developers are.
Of course, you can still download a copy of the game from Rinne-dou’s site. For English speakers, fans got an English translation prepared.
Hey, do you ever think, “whatever happened to those weird Christian games that Youtubers played for laughs sometimes?” I don’t really think about that. However, I started thinking about that when I saw The Flood: Prequel, the sole game by God Inspired Games. In this game, an angel isekais you to the days before the Great Flood because God said so, I guess.
The biggest response this game got was a review by Christ Centered Gamer, who was actually fairly critical of the game. As a game, it’s pretty bad, actually. Though, besides letting you commit violence against animals, it’s pretty moral from a Christian standpoint (at least the writer’s take on a Christian worldview, anyway), and this theming may be the game’s only notable characteristic, so in a way, I guess the game’s successful. Also, I do complement the reviewer for having a more nuanced view of RPG Maker as an engine compared to your average gamer.
Now, we head to Palette, an RPG Maker 95 game by Nishida Yoshitaka with a translation by vgperson.
You play as the amnesiac girl B.D., who’s trying to recall her past to her psychiatrist. In this adventure game, you navigate two modes. In the first mode, her memory world is rendered in black and white with splotches of red, and upon finding a notable item, the game switches to the other, sepia-colored mode where she can examine her world in-depth to recover the memory associated with that object.
The game was developed for the Fourth ASCII Entertainment Software Contest, which it ended up winning. Presumably, this prestige led to the game actually getting picked up by Enterbrain for official publishing. In 2001, a Japan-exclusive PS1 remake, Forget Me Not – Palette – was put out by Enterbrain, with original art, original music, etc. Nishida Yoshitaka may be one of the earliest RPG Maker creators to live the dream of publication.
Ill Natured is one of the games saved from being lost media… for the most part. It was originally made in 2000 by a user going by locus, but the game ended up being lost until they found the game files on their old computer and put it up in 2010. Thankfully, somebody else ended up finding the second Ill Natured game and has it archived as a Mega link.
While I don’t see a lot of information on the games, the second one seems to be regarded as pretty edgy and locus is frank about calling the first Ill Natured kinda bad in the comments. But hey, it’s cool to acknowledge past works that aren’t very good, it gives a good sense of perspective.
Unfortunately, there’s plenty of games that don’t get saved from the abyss, such is the case with Super Insomniac Tower. The only record of it ever existing is that it was nominated for a Misao in 2006, but besides that, there isn’t any information on it.
RPG Maker is no stranger to fangames. If anything, it’s an engine pretty open for people making fangames. Of course, you can expect a lot of Final Fantasy fangames and games for other RPG franchises. …But what about Sonic?
Chaotix of Tomorrow is a Sonic fangame developed in RPG Maker 2000 by Magnus. Magnus is a big fan of the Team Chaotix set of characters, to the point that they made this little RPG all about them. Taking place in a continuity that combines the canons where Knuckles Chaotix happened and Sonic Adventure, the suped up version of Metal Sonic from Sonic Heroes is back once again to cause havoc, and this time, it’s Team Chaotix taking center stage to defeat him.
While originally released in 2005, the game surprisingly had a big update in 2019. It fixed many of the flaws that apparently plagued the original version of the game. The original game even had voice acting, which is an ambitious thing for an RPG Maker game, though it was apparently not very good, so that got scaled back too.
In 2008, the same creator put out a continuation in the form of Twisted Mettle. Like the first game, Twisted Mettle wound up getting a big quality of life update in 2020.
Next is Inflation Quest (インフレクエスト), and before you say anything weird, it’s a game about inflating your stats and levels to absurd degrees all Disgaea style. Apparently. It’s hard to say much about this game because it’s just exclusively a Japanese game. And I can’t tell who the creator of the game is, even with these links? I’d appreciate it if anyone corrects me or fills in some blanks. There are two games, though seeing as I’ve been seeing more things about the sequel, that one’s probably better acclaimed; it also helps that there’s no connection with the previous game.
You may wonder, “how can you make a game about grinding without it being tedious?” Well, from looking at the gameplay, for this and the sequel, it’s actually kind of an action-RPG. You attack on a grid (which is more clear in the sequel) where you move forward to strike at the enemy. However, the enemy also attacks at tiles as indicated by pointing arrows, so you have to dodge and weave around the tiles to take down the enemy while avoiding damage yourself.
Apparently, the first game was kinda made as a shitpost in a few days and the second one just took around a month, if Google translate isn’t lying to me. Christ, I wish I had that energy.
You’re lying to me if you say you know any of these games. This is all lost things or stuff that’s so incredibly specific that you’d have to go out of your way to hunt them down. This is also the layer that’s completely different in the updated iceberg but I already wrote this section when I found out about that, so you’re just going to have to deal with it until I write the 3rd part.
Back on the subject of lost media, we have Aaron’s Revenge. Back in the age where RPG Maker games got negative rewards when it was hosted on the Queen’s Court, it got an award in the 2005 Misaos for having the Least Favorite Protagonist. If the creator deleted the game after getting a dishonor like that, I wouldn’t really be surprised, to be honest. If you weren’t there, you’d probably never know this game at all.
Designer’s Sin is another lost game. Made by the M_Man on an RPG Maker forum that’s pretty much dead, the game is a short joke game criticizing game designers that don’t properly credit people. The download file link is dead and this was the only place Designer’s Sin was posted, so unless someone there kept a download, the game is pretty much gone.
Gotta say though, with big triple-A games leaving people out of the credits for not sticking through development all the way, a game that’s about properly crediting people is still rather prescient.
As for Dark Necklofar, man, I don’t know ANYTHING. I do know that you play as assassins… but that’s pretty much it. You can find the download if you dig around for it, but there is no English translation and as far as I can see, there’s been no attempt at a translation.
And basing this off the titles of the various screenshots I found, there’s way more Dark Necklofar content than I thought going in. There’s apparently an updated version called Dark Necklofar Altered, as well as a flat-out sequel, apparently. In fact, the most in-depth look at Dark Necklofar I’ve seen is this livetweet thread by Japanese twitter user @lvll2lnl – and it’s just for the Altered version, which could be completely different from the original, as far as I know.
Red Moss is an RPG horror by Had2Apps that currently has no translation. This is kind of a weird entry on this list, to be honest? But well, that makes it a good fit for the bottom of an iceberg memes, doesn’t it? While I haven’t played this, I did play the same creator’s I WANT TO EAT, which I think pulls off a pretty good atmosphere. There’s a pretty good technical understanding in creating the horror part of one of these games that’d probably carry over into Red Moss, though you’d still be missing out on the writing.
Maybe we should take a look at something more familiar: Touhou. There’s lots of Touhou games, lots of Touhou fangames, and of course, Touhou RPGs. If you’ve been visiting vgperson’s page, you’ve probably already seen Touhou Mother and Touhou-A-Live.
Then there’s Touhou Aya Gensou (or whatever 東方彩幻想 translates to) by taurau. Well, the iceberg presumably refers to this game, anyway. As with many Touhou games, you’re out to solve some kinda incident. However, instead of playing around with a handful of characters in shmupy action, you’re building fully-fledged RPG parties with a whopping 75+ cast of characters throughout the franchise.
From what it seems, it’s a fairly robust game with its huge party building possibilites. However, even within the niche of Touhou RPG, it’s pretty niche. I’m mainly basing this off the fact that its most-viewed video on Youtube only has like, 7k views in spite of being 5 years old, though the picture may be different elsewhere. The game itself seems pretty healthy though, given that it updated back in 2020.
And to English speaking players, this will especially be niche, given that there’s been no attempts at a translation, as far as I can tell.
But on the subject of fangames, I’ll finally end this iceberg off with a rather bizarre one based on Cave Story.
Alex Anomaly, by Extra Life, is a Cave Story fangame inspired by the Nicalis controversy. Honestly, you should read about that over here if you don’t know about it. Anyway, unhappy with the abuses of Tyrone Rodriguez, a group of teenagers decide to set out to take back the rights for Cave Story. It’s kind of a batshit yet understandable premise, so I love it.
As for the game itself, everything is represented through Cave Story sprites and edits of sprites, set upon a sidescrolling overworld. To be honest, while I thought that this game should be higher because it honestly has the most public facing face out of these other entries, I can see why people wouldn’t think it’s an RPG Maker game, given that it gives the impression of being a sidescrolling fangame outside of combat.
Far before the most current version as Alex Anomaly, the game was initially called Edgelord Story and was more clearly an RPG Maker game. The creator actually kept a collection of the builds as Edgelord Story and the earlier Alex Anomaly builds around as Alex Anomaly: Legacy Collection.
Some of these last games are kinda weird, right? These games with barely any prestige, even compared to your average RPG Maker game…
And really, wouldn’t the average RPG Maker user’s game be on this half of the list? A lot of games made in the engine get released, but the number of ones that get attention are small, with the ones getting attention outside of the hobbyist community being even smaller. Honestly, every RPG Maker game that doesn’t have a bit of prestige would be on the second half of this iceberg by default.
And you know what, let me add a 9th layer, and that layer just has “The Game That You, the Reader, Never Finished.” I’m sure that at least one of you reading this has some abandoned game tucked in a folder somewhere for one reason or another. Hell, I have a bunch of half-baked stuff saved to my Steam Cloud that I refuse to revisit, and you too, probably. Like hey, I had this one game, Vaporwave Simulator, saved to my Dropbox with a few other stuff and I decided to re-upload it after hunting down the original developer after seeing that it No Longer Exists. That’s some real 9th layer stuff.
Point is, the last two layers are closer to the normal experience a lot of casual RPG Maker users have than the big stuff up above. And even then, there’s some high quality stuff like the original Palette, stuck down here because of language barriers or just being overshadowed by what came after. We are all in the abyss and this is an iceberg true to the universal RPG Maker experience.
Anyway, see you all next week for the last bonus part.