It’s been less than a year since we got the first official release of Princess Maker in the west and we are already now on the third installment. Princes Maker 3 introduces numerous changes to the franchise. And while not all are positive, this makes the game feel unique in its own way.
The story pretty much just serves as a setup before sending you off on your own. The queen of the fairies comes and gives you a 10-year-old girl who you will raise as your daughter. You only have till her 18th birthday to help her realize her dream to become a human princess. Cube, your trusty butler has been replaced with Uzu, a fairy housekeeper.
Unlike Princess Maker 1 and 2, Princess Maker 3 is a much more accessible game. Numerous things have been simplified for better or worse. You no longer have to worry about feeding your daughter or budgeting those costs. Talking to townsfolk and sending your daughter to the castle to talk to the nobles has also been removed. The single giant festival is now broken up into multiple smaller ones and you can participate in all of them. Errantry is gone, and while it was a lackluster at best these RPG segments served as a nice break of pace in this otherwise slow simulation.
Building a schedule is far easier and you can plop down as many activities as you want with the ability to reschedule down the line. This streamlined interface means that you won’t feel like things drag on for too long, on the contrary your little daughter will grow up faster than you expect. Taking this into account the game is a bit on the shorter side, taking around 2 hours to get to your daughter’s 18th birthday. Since the game has a total of 60 endings depending on how you bring up your child these 2 hours can easily extend into 20.
Your daughter’s personality and preferences depend on the choices you made at the beginning of the game. Such as date of birth, blood type and your occupation. I played as a fallen noble. My daughter inherited these traits. Her proud and arrogant attitude made daddy proud. For a person of her high upbringing she only wants to work at fancy jobs. She hates housekeeping and says she doesn’t want to do farm work because she wants to eat vegetables, not plant them.
Unlike before, this time your daughter actually tells you if she liked working somewhere, letting you slowly build a grasp of her personality. This is the biggest improvement over its predecessors, since you won’t waste a ridiculous amount of time unsure if she is not working because she is lazy, tiered or just not interested.
As you might has realized by the title (and the screenshots) unlike the first two installments on Steam this is not a refined edition. Even though the art is made by Yonago Gainax it’s starting to show its age, with uneven line art and sometimes inconsistent proportions. Your daughter’s part time jobs are once again fully animated, this time from an isometric perspective. The pixalated style doesn’t take away from the charm of looking at this world come to life.
It would be easy to overlook all its smaller problems if not for the technical issues that plague this release. CFK has done a rather shoddy localization for Princess Maker 3. The game has some untranslated text and suffers from word wrap issues, frequently breaking words right down the middle. The semi-translucent stretched font used doesn’t make things any easier on the eyes. Everything is unbelievably hard to read, forcing you to squint through the whole game. In one instance I also had the game crash on me. At launch the game also had buggy Steam achievements – I received the one for becoming a princess just by starting the game while other trivial ones where nowhere to be seen. The developers CFK have fortunately stated that they are working hard on fixing these issues.
With all its technical issues aside, Princess Maker 3: Fairy Tales Come True is still a blast to play. Getting to finally hear what your daughter likes and dislikes makes for a far more natural system. The streamlined scheduling prevents things from becoming too slow, while the adorable isometric pixel art breaths a whole new life to the world. And while it doesn’t bring back every cool element from its predecessors it brings enough new things to the table to make this installment feel fresh. Still, it might be wise to wait until the game is patched to fully enjoy this classic.