Which is a pity because this edition looks really ace. For anyone who hasn't used one of these 'games' before; RPG Maker software presents people with a simplistic set of tools and then lets them free to make the RPG of their dreams.
It's a fairly limited toolset, to be sure. The games you make will be limited in quality to roughly that of a SNES RPG, and if you happen to write a really good one it'll look like, and play a bit like a Dragon Quest game?
Sound good? It is. The fun's more in making the game then playing it, as such, but whatever platform you're doing it on (there's a PC version in English too that is still readily available), it's the kind of creative endeavour that can draw hours and hours of your time. Sharing the game later on with friends just caps off the experience.
So what's in the newest game (due for release mid-December?) The big one is that the game features character sets from three distinct time periods: Sengoku (Medieval Japan, the time of demons, ninjas and samurai), Modern and Sci Fi. That alone opens up plenty of opportunities to make a range of different stories. The toolset also allows you to jump between time periods at will, just in case you feel like creating a time-warp story.
Bad news for importers: The game is DSi-enhanced, which means it's probably also region locked. On the plus side, the DSi camera is implemented in a really cool way - photos taken from it can act as static screens for cut scenes and the game's main title graphic. That's something the creative folks will get right into.
You're able to save up to four games at a time, which allows you to work on a couple of projects at the same time. Otherwise, it's much the same deal as the previous RPG Maker.
So cross your fingers for a US/ European release, because with the popularity that other user-generated content games have earned, RPG Maker has the potential to go down really, really well.