RPG Maker Games in RetroArch

I am familiar with RPG Maker since roughly 20 years. A friend told me about it in early 2000s and gave me a copy of the installer. At that time, it was only available in Japan and we used an unofficial translation by “Don Miguel” (a true legend). Which led to rise of huge communities around the tool. It was an exciting time of discovery and curiousity.

Due to lack of internet connection at home, my friend and I spent a lot of time in internet cafes. We downloaded everything we could get and burn it on a CD for use at home. Today I just found one of these CDs from 2003 in my home. It contains number of games and assets from one of the biggest German RM2k communities, the RPG-Atelier: Die Welt der selbstgemachten Rollenspiele. Since then new versions of the editor released, even official English versions. And a new free and Open Source tool to edit and play games compatible with the engine of RPG Maker 2000 and 2003 emerged too. It’s name is EasyRPG and is also integrated into RetroArch. That one is what I want to talk about today. However not all games are fully compatible, but it is still being developed.

Free as in freedom: Every component of the project will be published under a free license.

Cross-platform: We want EasyRPG to reach as many platforms as possible.

Multi-language: The more languages are supported, the better.

https://easyrpg.org/about/

Being a RetroArch core comes with a few features. The builtin gamepad support and Shaders are probably my favorite additions. Also being able to pause or speed up the gameplay like an emulator works as well. I did actually not try the standalone EasyRPG Player, so not sure how it compares. Leave comments and tell me your experience if you like. Have a look at the documentation for the RetroArch EasyRPG core.

Attention: This post contains discussion of terminal commands for Linux. Read at your own risk.

The RTP

RPG Maker 2000 RTP – World Map

The first thing you need to learn and understand is, what the RTP is. It stands for “Run Time Package” and contains standard assets that can be utilized by all Maker games. This was important back then, because it saved a lot of space if you downloaded or distributed your games. So you need to download and install it first, if you want play classic games that rely on it. The assets are proprietary and cannot be delivered with the editor or RetroArch.

Download RTP

Download RTP from RPG Maker website

Go to RPG Maker RTP Downloads, scroll down a bit, select “RPG Maker 2000” and click “Download Run Time Package”. Do the same with “RPG Maker 2003”. Those are the supported game engines by “EasyRPG” in RetroArch.

Extract and install RTP

File structure of RTP after extraction

You do not need to execute the self extracting archives (those files with “.exe” extension), because it would install in the default directory for the regular RPG Maker. But that is not what we want. You need a program that is capable of extracting files from these “.exe” archives, which are essentially “.zip” files. I think the regular “7zip” program should be able to do that. But I don’t know how it works on the GUI, as I am only using the commandline version in the terminal on Linux. These are the commands to get the files out of the “.exe” archives:

7z x -o2000 "rpg2000_rtp_installer.exe"
7z x -o2003 "rpg2003_rtp_installer.exe"

These commands will extract the archives content and save in a folder “2000” and “2003”. The meaning of this command:

  • 7z: Path or name to program.
  • x: Extraction mode.
  • -o: Option to specify output directory, followed by the…
  • 2000: … name of the folder to extract to.
  • "rpg2000_rtp_installer.exe": Filename of an archive to extract from.

Now open your RetroArch directory, go into the “system” folder and create a new empty subfolder named “rtp” in it. Take the previously extracted RTP content folders “2000” and “2003” and put them in the newly created “rtp” folder. That should be all you need to do for the assets. The folder structure should be something like this:

system/rtp/2000/Backdrop/
system/rtp/2000/Battle/
system/rtp/2000/CharSet/
system/rtp/2003/Backdrop/
system/rtp/2003/Battle/
system/rtp/2003/BattleCharSet/

… and so on.

Install EasyRPG core

There is not much going on with the installation. It depends on what system you are using and is handled like any other core. Go into the menu “Main Menu” > “Online Updater” > “Core Downloader” and find “RPG Maker 2000/2003 (EasyRPG)”. Or alternatively if you use RetroArch through Steam, it is included as a (free) DLC under “RetroArch – EasyRPG”.

There is not much to configure of the core either. You can assign button mappings, but I found my game controller was supported out of the box by RetroArch and had no need to do anything. You can also play with Keyboard at default. So let’s not waste any more time and jump in to next topic.

Add Games to RetroArch

RPG Maker games playlist in RetroArch

As said before, not all games are compatible. Some creators used unusual stuff or addons that are not supported by EasyRPG. And you need to be careful for which version the games are, as only “RPG Maker 2000” and “RPG Maker 2003” engines are supported. Sometimes it is noted, sometimes it is not. Nowadays most new games are created with a modern version of RPG Maker, so they won’t be playable in RetroArch for now.

Communities

RMN Community is a great resource to get free games. In the Filter Options on the right side, select the Engine and click “Apply” to activate the filter. Here is a preconfigured link with additional settings for the filter: RPG Maker 2000 Downloads Exclude Commercial sorted by Rating Once you found an interesting game, open it’s Downloads page and download the archive.

RPG-Atelier (German) is another good source to get free games. It is in German (the one I grew up with), but contains English language games as well. A preconfigured filter as a link: RPG Maker 2000 English.

Install a game

Once you downloaded a game, I recommend to unpack the archive, often a .zip or .rar file. We will repack it again into an archive. That can be necessary, because with some archives RetroArch didn’t want play them. Also some of them contain the data in “.exe” format, which needs to be handled first anyway. “.exe” files can be an archive itself, in which case you should be able to extract files without executing it (in example with command 7z x-ogame "file.exe" in the terminal, if you have 7z installed). But if the “.exe” file is an installer, then in that case you can’t use it under other operating systems than Windows. For that situation I do not have a solution. Sometimes there is an “.lzh” package, which is an archive and can be extracted normally without using the “Setup.exe”.

So once you unpacked and extracted everything, you should have a folder structure that contains “Map0001.lmu” and additional assets folders. Now take that entire folder and create a new ZIP archive with your program of choice. I recommend to rename the file extension from “.zip” to “.easyrpg”. That way you can easily identify the game like any ROM file. Now it should be ready. Put the “.easyrpg” file into your ROMs directory of choice.

Import games and create playlist

This is how I do it and you may have a different way. Open RetroArch, go to menu “Import Content” > “Manual Scan“. Here we will scan the folder with the “.easyrpg” games you have and create a playlist. Here my settings quickly:

SettingValueNotes
Content Directory/path/to/dirSearch the folder with the games, click it and then select”<Scan This Directory”.
System NameRPG MakerWe just choose the default name for the Rm2k games.
Custom System NameIgnore this.
Default CoreRPG Maker 2000/2003 (EasyRPG)The emulator core to assign to the playlist, which should be EasyRPG in this case.
File ExtensionsIgnore this.
Scan RecursivelyOFFI turn it off, because all game files to scan are in a flat directory structure.
Scan Inside ArchivesOFFThere is no need for this, as the we do not want to search inside the archives.
Arcade DAT File:Ignore this.
Arcade DAT FilterIgnore this.
Overwrite Existing PlaylistOFFI want to add new games to existing playlist, so any game in that list is preserved. If this is the first time, then the playlist will be created.
Validate Existing EntriesOFFThis is turned off, because the games we created are unknown to RetroArch. Otherwise those games won’t be added.
Manual Scan settings for importing .easyrpg games

After that a new playlist named “RPG Maker” with all games from that directory should appear. Because the games are not known by RetroArch, no images and thumbnails are available. One could add them by their own, but that is something I won’t discuss today (never did that anyway). I think the save files are created in the same folder as the games, just in case you was looking for.

Game suggestions

After my initial experimentation, I found some playable games and want to share it with you. With one or two games I experienced an issue with missing graphics, but otherwise it seemed to be playable. Just a disclaimer here: These are only tested for the first few minutes and could be broken somewhere in the middle of the play session. Or some graphics may not load or does not support certain addons for RPG Maker. This is not well tested or curated list, just a quick testing. So have this in mind. The current version of the player is “EasyRPG v0.7”.

Alter A.I.L.A. Genesis

Developer: Neok
Engine: RPG Tsukuru 2003
Download

Balmung Cycle Part I

Developer: Magi
Engine: RPG Tsukuru 2003
Download

Cavern of Doom

Developer: bobthebobish
Engine: RPG Tsukuru 2003
Download

Chocobo Panic Space

Developer: koaangel
Engine: RPG Tsukuru 2000
Download

Chronicles of Tsufanubra

Developer: Ephiam
Engine: RPG Tsukuru 2000
Download

Clock of Atonement

Developer: daigo
Engine: RPG Tsukuru 2000
Download

Demon Legacy

Developer: Nightblade
Engine: RPG Tsukuru 2003
Download

Grimm’s Hollow

Developer: ghosthunter
Engine: RPG Tsukuru 2003
Download (itch.io)

Hero’s Realm

Developer: kentona
Engine: RPG Tsukuru 2003
Download, Patch, Patch

Lisa “The First”

Developer: Dingaling
Engine: RPG Tsukuru 2003
Download, New Version?

Paradise Blue

Developer: Ocean
Engine: RPG Tsukuru 2003
Download

Pengui!

Developer: Mateui
Engine: RPG Tsukuru 2003
Download

Phantom Legacy (Redux)

Developer: Nightblade
Engine: RPG Tsukuru 2003
Download

Phileas’s Mirror

Developer: Kenetec
Engine: RPG Tsukuru 2003
Download

Pom Gets Wi-Fi

Developer: Me-Patra
Engine: RPG Tsukuru 2003
Download

RMN Holiday Calendar

Developer: Frogge
Engine: RPG Tsukuru 2003
Download

Seraphic Blue

Developer: eplipswich
Engine: RPG Tsukuru 2000
Download

Sore Losers

Developer: Sated
Engine: RPG Tsukuru 2000
Download

Sunset Over Imdahl

Developer: Aremen
Engine: RPG Tsukuru 2000
Download

The Longing Ribbon

Developer: Gibmaker
Engine: RPG Tsukuru 2000
Download

Theia – The Crimson Eclipse Orihalcon

Developer: LolloRocketDiver
Engine: RPG Tsukuru 2003
Download (gamejolt.com)

Vampires Dawn – Reign of Blood

Developer: DaniNineTeenEightyFive
Engine: RPG Tsukuru 2000
Download

Villnoire

Developer: Little Wing Guy
Engine: RPG Tsukuru 2003
Download

Zero Base

Developer: Kazesui
Engine: RPG Tsukuru 2003
Download

Shaders

Add some RetroArch Shaders to give the games a more classic console like experience to it. Just like you would do it on other emulated systems. You could even have different Shader per game, which is a cool idea that I might do it myself. I’ll leave here some comparison shots before and after a Shader.

Vampires Dawn
none vs modern (based on CRT Royale)
Full image
Theia – The Crimson Eclipse Orihalcon
none vs composite_tv (based on CRT Royale)
Full image
Pom Gets Wi-Fi
none vs hd_smooth (based on ScaleFX)
Full image
Sunset over Imdahl
none vs xbr-mlv4-multipass (based on XBR)
Full Image
King of Grayscale
none vs handheld_grey (based on Game Boy Pocket)
Full image

What else to do?

I hope this post wasn’t too complicated. Most of the complications come from the unpacking and installing the RTP itself. I hope it helped you. If you have any questions, recommendations or just want to say something, then make a comment. And as always, have fun.

Here are some links for further reading or research about RPG Maker games:

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