Princess Maker 3: Fairy Tales Come True
With two Princess Maker titles already under their belt, CFK Co., Ltd. has now also brought back Princess Maker 3 from the depths of obscurity for fans to enjoy. Like previous entries in the series, you are once again charged with raising a ten year old girl, preferably to become a princess. However, this time the girl is a fairy who was reincarnated as a human and placed in your custody by the Fairy Queen herself.
Your character isn’t a hero either, but can be anything from a wandering performer or merchant to fallen noble or retired knight, depending on what you choose. It is not a choice to be made lightly either as it can impact not just your daughter’s starting disposition, but also your credit limit, annual income and starting cash. For example, a merchant starts out with much more cash than a wandering monk, but your daughter will also be conceited, which can be troublesome to deal with. It’s not just your job that influences how things play out, but also the date of birth you select for your daughter and her blood type. It might sound a little complicated and, just like previous titles, can be a little daunting at first, but Princess Maker 3 is actually the most streamlined version of the game and easiest to play.
The character sprites are a step backward compared to the previous two “refined” titles, but the pixel art animations for activities still hold up surprisingly well. Perhaps it is because it is a style that a lot of modern indie titles try to emulate, but watching your daughter succeed or fail at various jobs or classes looks really neat. The pixel art and isometric viewpoint for the activities are a lot more charming than the 2D animations of previous games, so it takes a little longer to tire of them. The backgrounds for these scenes look a lot more detailed and less pixilated than the characters, but this doesn’t matter too much. The game is also packed with CGs for vacations and endings, all of which look great and can be viewed in a separate album after you unlock them. Also, while the actual character sprites definitely show their age, it is still nice to see your daughter changing her expressions based on her mood.
The first thing that should be mentioned is that unlike the two previous titles that are on Steam, this version of Princess Maker 3 is not “refined.” This means that the visuals look just like they did went the game was originally released in the nineties, which is obviously rather dated by today’s standards. The visuals have been optimized to fit the standard 16:9 aspect ratio, but this basically means borders on the side. We also encountered some issues trying the run the game in full-screen mode, so opted for the windowed mode instead most of the time. Since the game is ideally suited to have running in the background while you are browsing or performing other tasks this isn’t really a big deal, but we know that many people prefer playing in full-screen, so it’s worth mentioning.
The audio of the game is also rather basic and consists of a couple of tunes that can quickly become repetitive after extended periods playing. The sound effects are rather good, though, and Yukana Nogami handled the voice duties for the daughter. She’s quite a big name in anime circles and treated her role in this game with the same level of professionalism. Controlling the game is done entirely with a mouse and while the interface can look somewhat confusing, you’ll quickly figure out where everything is. There is a little too much clicking through menus involved for our taste, but this is to be expected for such a stat heavy game.
The basic format of the game remains the same as its predecessors, so once again it is all about the statistics. Behind the cute visuals lurks a stat heavy engine where every choice you make has an impact on the way your daughter grows up. Since the game has sixty different endings, you better believe that all your actions have consequences. It is your job to select the schedule for your daughter, which determines which of her stats are raised and which ones drop. Your daughter has stats in stamina, intelligence, vitality, pride, morality, elegance, attitude, sense, charm, courage, trust and stress, which is a lot to keep track of initially. You’ll soon discover what is important for the type of ending you are chasing, which makes things a little easier. To raise these stats you need to send your daughter to classes ranging from dancing and cooking to martial arts and etiquette, but unfortunately, nothing in life is free. Based on the profession you chose at the start of the game you get a small yearly income, but the bulk of your money has to be earned by your daughter via the part time jobs you select for her. Depending on her stats and disposition, she might be good at some and hate others, but it’s a careful balancing act to bring in cash without wasting too much time or stressing your daughter out too much. Jobs range from mundane ones like working as a maid or at the market, but soon more exotic ones become available. These can be lucrative in terms of income, but could also have a huge impact on your daughter’s stats, so choose carefully.
The nice thing about Princess Maker 3 is that selecting your daughter’s schedule is much easier than ever before and you can now choose as many activities ahead as you would like. You can even reschedule if something crops up, which is a nice touch, especially if you were a little too ambitious with your planning and your daughter urgently requires rest. It is more beneficial to keep the schedule shorter, though, as this allows you to talk to your daughter more to reap additional stat bonuses. Food is no longer an issue either and the events from previous games have been split into smaller festivals that regularly crops up. Sadly, the game has been simplified a little too much in certain areas as there are no more RPG sections either. We quite enjoyed fighting monsters and finding treasure as a break from all the stat juggling, so this is one aspect that we definitely missed. This also means that the game can be completed much quicker, but with sixty different endings, it will still take ages to see everything on offer.
Each of the previous Princess Maker titles released on Steam had some issues, but Princess Maker 3 definitely disappointed the most in this regard. Upon release the game suffered from crashes, major issues with word wrapping, Steam achievements getting awarded randomly, and sub-par translations. Some of these issues, such as the word wrapping has been addressed, but the game definitely needs some more work in other areas. Die hard fans of the genre or series might be able to put up with them and we haven’t encountered anything game breaking yet, but this is something that CFK Co., Ltd. could have handled better.
It is a pity that the technical and translation issues in this game have placed such a damper on things, as it really is quite a unique and entertaining experience. It is obviously not aimed at impatient players or those who don’t like staring at screens full of stats, but preparing your daughter for a role as princess, politician, artist, entertaining, merchant or one of the many other endings is undeniably addictive. Even after multiple playthroughs the game managed to surprise us with unusual endings, such as the one where our daughter ended up marrying a bunny and becoming a bunny princess! If CFK Co., Ltd. can polish the game a little more and iron out the bugs we’d wholeheartedly recommend it to fans of the genre, but until then it definitely loses some points.
- OS: Windows® XP or higher
- Processor: Intel Pentium 3 or higher
- Graphics: 32MB or greater graphics card
- Storage: 200 MB available space
- Sound Card: Direct Sound
- OS: Windows® XP or higher
- Processor: Intel Core2 Duo or higher
- Graphics: NVidia GeForce GTX 280 or ATI Radeon HD 6630 or higher
- Storage: 20 MB available space
- Sound Card: Direct Sound