There was a time in my early teenagehood where I was so entrenched in anime and JRPG brain rot that I convinced myself I was talented enough to make a game all of my own. That never happened, of course, but the one thing I do remember from that time was how much fun I had poking around in RPG Maker. It’s a great little bit of software that’s birthed some bangers like Corpse Party, To the Moon and Mad Father. And right now, one of its older versions is totally free on Steam.
RPG Maker XP, the fourth iteration of the toolset, is free to nab until February 19 at 10 AM PST. The deal is on as part of the RPG Maker Festival 2024 and “RPG Maker Day” on February 15, which celebrates the engine and a bunch of neat games that have come out of it.
It’s probably not the best RPG Maker on the market these days—though the actual answer on which one is depends on who you ask—but for no cost, it’s a great entry point to dabbling with developing a wee RPG of your own. RPG Maker XP has been pretty widely used over the years, and was the engine behind the now-dead Pokémon Uranium fan game. The toolset is sat at a 93% “Overall Positive” review on Steam too, so it’s certainly not terrible by any means.
Going back even further to some old-but-golds, RPG Maker VX Ace is a measly $6.99 / £5.85, which offers a higher framerate than XP and has a ton of available plugins, while RPG Maker 2003—which is still a solid recommendation for more of a retro feel—is only $1.99 / £1.67 during the sale.
If you’re more of a player than a developer, then there’s also an abundance of RPG Maker creations that are going for cheap right now. The aforementioned To the Moon is 80% off, and fellow popular RPG Maker creation Ib is 30% down right now. Teenage me is already loading up my Steam cart as we speak.