The weird, charming daughter raising simulator Princess Maker 3: Fairy Tales Come True has finally been released in English. Fans have long wanted an official English translation, and while they might find the wait worth it, the game's translation problems may be a turnoff for newcomers.
The Princess Maker series was developed by legendary Japanese anime production company Gainax. The second game in the series, Princess Maker 2, was translated by a company called SoftEgg, who obtained the rights from Gainax and gave the licence to another company, Ignite, who were to manufacture the disks. SoftEgg fully translated, programmed and laid out the manuals for the game, not knowing that Ignite was going under. In a blog post for SoftEgg's website, founder Tim Trzepacz wrote, "I was in touch with some folks at that company [Ignite], and things seemed to be going well, other than they couldn't seem to get me a reasonable picture of their logo to put in the game. I finally redrew it myself and sent them the final disks. As it turned out, they couldn't wait for the final version, and manufactured CDs of a much earlier, unfinished version of the game which they handed out to random people at the E3 trade show. That year the show was in Atlanta, so I was not attending, which was unfortunate because if I had been there I would have known that they had fired their entire staff."
After Ignite shuttered, SoftEgg found themselves with a fully translated game they didn't hold the licence to. Eventually the game was abandoned. At some point, the translation was leaked onto the internet, and it's what I, and many other Princess Maker fans, eventually played. The rights were eventually granted to another company, CFK Co., Ltd., who retranslated the game and released the first two Princess Maker games on Steam in an official English capacity. Earlier this week, they released the third game in the series.
In Princess Maker 2 you play as a father raising a daughter gifted to you from the gods. You schedule her days with activities that raised her stats, and then also take her adventuring in RPG segments. It's simultaneously heartfelt, pervy and pretty funny. You have to make sure to discipline your child so she won't act out — but if her affection for you grows too strong, she marries you. At the end of the game, you see what profession she ends up in. She could be a baker, a soldier, a court jester. She could also marry the king and become the new queen of the kingdom, or marry the Devil and become queen of Hell.
Princess Maker 3's set up is a little bit different. Instead of a child from the heavens, you raise a fairy who wants to be human. Unlike its predecessor, Princess Maker 3 doesn't have adventuring segments for your daughter — she'll no longer wander into the desert to sword fight walking skeletons. Before you start the game you choose the father's profession. I opted for "Wandering Performer", which meant that the room we lived in was rather shabby, I sometimes only earned 50g a year, and my daughter started out with a "Misconduct" disposition, meaning she was rebellious in school and turned away from part time jobs.
In Princess Maker 3 you also schedule your time in periods of 15 days, instead of a month at a time. This gives you more control over your daughter's stats. In Princess Maker 2, sometimes I'd schedule a month of work or school and watch, helplessly, as my daughter's stress spiralled out of control and she got ill — here, that won't happen. But the game isn't too predictable or easy, as it will sometimes throw you random events during classes and work. Doing poorly on an exam can greatly raise her stress, and doing well can lower it, but also make her prideful.
If your daughter is good enough at any given skill, she'll also earn an annoying rival.
There's nothing quite like a Princess Maker game. I found myself truly fond of my daughter, Haitey Kotaku, even if she was rebellious for three years straight. Sure, she wastes my money, but she's a budding artist and a really good builder. Unfortunately, the translation is a mess. It's riddled with grammatical errors, the text wrap breaks up words in strange ways, and the font choice makes everything hard to read. I wanted to name my daughter Hailey, but the lowercase L and lowercase T are nearly identical in this font, so her name is Haitey. Some of the translations are obviously wrong as well. When Haitey works as a "Carpenter", you see her animated sprite on a building site clearly doing masonry. The Steam release of Princess Maker 2 had similar translation issues, but I don't remember it being this bad. At times when I was playing, although all the dialogue was in English, I had no idea what the characters were talking about.
In a way, this kind of translation is representative of the story of the Princess Maker series. Ever a cult classic, the mismanagement of how the series is presented will pretty much ensure that it stays that way. I'm very happy to raise my new fairy daughter. I just wish I didn't have to squint at the screen so much.