Princess Maker Refine
Gameplay 7
Graphics 7
Sound 7

Princess Maker Refine is not as complex or feature packed as its sequel, but this also makes it a little easier to get into for newcomers. In addition, the game is priced at half the cost of Princess Maker 2, which makes it a more lucrative impulse buy for players who are curious about the genre. Guiding your adopted daughter on a path to one of many endings is surprisingly addictive and while the game can become a little repetitive, it offers plenty of replay value. There are still some rough edges that will need to be smoothed out with future updates, but overall the game has lost none of its charm.

Gameplay: It looks a little complicated initially, but is easy to get into.

Graphics: Sadly no animations, but the overall visuals still look nice.

Sound: Features some nice tunes and full Japanese voice overs

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Princess Maker Refine

Developer: CFK Co., Ltd. | Publisher: CFK Co., Ltd. | Release Date: 2017 | Genre: Simulation | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

After the surprising appearance of Princess Maker 2 Refine on Steam last year, CFK team is back with an official English version of the very first game. Princess Maker was originally released in the early nineties for the MSX2 system, with a “refined” version later appearing on PC and Playstation 2. It is this refined version, complete with voice acting and full-color visuals, that is now finally available to English speaking audiences. The story once again opens with a brave warrior saving the kingdom from evil, but instead of wealth and power he simply requests to adopt one of the girls orphaned by the war. With this ten year old girl in your care, it is your job to raise her to become a responsible and successful adult over the course of eight years. If you do well she might become royalty, but fail in your duties as a parent and she could end up on a less savory path in life. It is a lot of responsibility, but very rewarding to see how your daughter turns out.

Since Princess Maker Refine was originally released before Princess Maker Refine 2 it is a lot more basic than its successor. If this is your first experience with the franchise this isn’t a problem, but to those who have played PMR2 to death, it will feel like a step backwards. However, despite lacking a lot of the features introduced in its sequel, Princess Maker Refine remains a surprisingly engrossing game and because it is much simpler it is also easier to get into if you are a newcomer to the genre.

Fans of PMR2 will know exactly what is going on, but for new players the game can be a little daunting initially as it throws you in at the deep end without any explanations. The entire game is menu driven and the basic idea is that you get to assign tasks to your daughter each week which in turn influences her stats. Money is an ever present concern, so from day one you can send your daughter out to go jobs in order to earn cash. Some jobs raise specific stats while decreasing others, so it is a balancing act to keep your daughter on the path you want for her. In addition, working also raise her stress, which can cause her to become sick if not decreased. On the other hand, giving her too much free time is not only costly, but also lowers her morals, which can make her rebellious if you are not careful. Early in the game there are only a few jobs available, but eventually your daughter can work anywhere from an inn, bar, weapon store and hospital to a church. If you don’t care about her reputation and morals you can also send her out to work in a strange bar or strange inn, which pays more, but makes you a very bad parent. In addition to all the work, you can also provide your daughter with an education. She can either study, train in military matters, work on her etiquette or go on errands. The first three raises specific stats, but cost a lot of money while the latter takes the form of a little top down adventure where you get to explore a small map and fight monsters.

Other options include asking the people in town about their opinions of your daughter, sending her to the castle to try and improve her reputation, or visiting the shops where you can purchase weapons, armor and helms for her. The latter comes in handy during the adventuring sections as well as the martial arts tournament that occurs during the yearly Harvest festival. If fighting is not your thing, you can also enter your daughter in the Miss Kingdom contest, where her other stats (or some bribery) are more important.

Most of your time in Princess Maker Refine will be spent selecting three different activities per “turn” and then sitting back and watching as the events unfold. Since these activities can only be work, rest, vacation or studying, the game does become a little repetitive. To make matters worse, PMR doesn’t feature the animations that made the different jobs in PMR2 so adorable. This is understandable as the game is older, but definitely makes it a little less interesting to watch compared to the sequel. Of course, one can only watch the same animations so many times without growing tired of them, so their omission in this game might be a bonus for some players. Visually the game looks nice and Takumi Akai, the original creator of the game apparently supervised the upgrade, which shows. What surprised us was the amount of nudity in the game, which ranges from your daughter appearing topless in a few of the vacation scenes to numerous monsters and characters you battle doing the same. There is no option to censor or turn these scenes off, so if you are easily offended by nudity then this might be an issue. There also appears to be an issue with the text formatting in the game, so hopefully this can be fixed in a future update to make it more readable.

Princess Maker Refine gives you the option to play with PCM music, MIDI music or no music when you boot it up and the tunes are actually pretty decent. There are fifteen tracks in total, all of which you can listen to by pressing “F10” when you access the “Change Outfit” menu. The game also features full Japanese voice-overs for all the characters in the game. Like the Steam version of PMR2, Princess Maker Refine also has Steam achievements to earn and trading cards to collect.

If you are new to the “Life Simulation” genre or would love to see where the Princess Maker series began then this is a good place to start. It lacks a lot of the features and extras that made Princess Maker 2 such a big hit, but it is a perfectly playable game in its own right. There are still some rough edges in terms of the translation and text formatting that hopefully gets fixed soon, although they don’t impact the gameplay too much. Overall the game is quite fun, despite being a little repetitive and offers an affordable way to try out a very niche genre. It is not really something that is going to appeal to everyone, but makes for a nice change of pace and is hopefully the precursor to more Princess Maker titles getting released on Steam.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows® XP or higher
  • Processor: Intel Pentium 3 or higher
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 32MB or greater graphics card
  • Storage: 1 GB available space
  • Sound Card: Direct Sound
  • OS: Windows® XP or higher
  • Processor: Intel Core2 Duo or higher
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVidia GeForce GTX 280 or ATI Radeon HD 6630 or higher
  • Storage: 1 GB available space
  • Sound Card: Direct Sound

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