Review: Pretty Princess Magical Garden Island Is a Simpler Animal Crossing
Image via Aksys Games

Review: Pretty Princess Magical Garden Island Is a Simpler Animal Crossing

It’s interesting to see how a series can change from entry to entry. Pretty Princess Party is something of a minigame collection with character and castle customization. Its sequel Pretty Princess Magical Garden Island goes in a different direction. This time, it’s an Animal Crossing sort of game. However, while community is a focus there, here it feels like it is about customizing the island and gathering resources. It’s mostly an age-appropriate game for younger players, but older and more experienced ones will deal with some tedium.

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Pretty Princess Magical Garden Island picks up almost exactly where Pretty Princess Party left off. Players restored the castle after coming from the real world to a magical one, and made friends with some relatively generic princesses named Charlotte, Katrina, and Laura. What’s next? A trip to Carrot Isle to enjoy the rare and luxurious Princess Cake. However, upon arriving on its shores, it is completely empty. All that remains is Rabbit House, which will become players’ home base. Since you already proved you’re so good at revitalization in the previous game, the goal now is to farm, place buildings, and set up decorations in order to make Carrot Isle attractive again. If you do, that Princess Cake may one day be yours.

Review: Pretty Princess Magical Garden Island Is a Simpler Animal Crossing

Screenshot by Siliconera

In a way, it feels like Pretty Princess Magical Garden Island is designed for the kids who played Pretty Princess Party and grew up enough to be ready for an Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley game, but still might not be completely prepared for the patience and skill those might require. This is primarily a game in which you are gathering items so you can meet requires or create new buildings, resources, or decorations. So after you buy seeds and plant crops, you need to wait a certain number of real-world minutes to harvest them. Those items could then be used in recipes to make dishes. Or, if it is something like grass or wheat, to feed to farm animals to get items like eggs or wool. You need to catch butterflies for different colors for dyes. Trees are chopped for planks of wood or you could mine ore for metals, and turning in those could help with buildings or furniture. Feeding animals means waiting real-world time for them to produce materials. Creating at a “shop” means bringing specific items and waiting for it to be made, especially if other materials need to be made ahead of it.

This does mean certain steps are removed from the process to make it a bit “easier.” Chopping trees doesn’t result in deforestation. You just need to wait a bit before you can get wood from that particular one again. Animals don’t need to be fed or purchased. So there’s less responsibility. You don’t need to talk to animal visitors beyond waving to them once per day to earn gratitude points. Likewise, the sidequests from them appear in a menu and aren’t as “in the moment” as the requests from villagers in Animal Crossing. You also don’t need to wait many real-world days to begin unlocking things. The process is rather streamlined and speedy, which is good for less patient players.

Review- Pretty Princess Magical Garden Island Is a Simpler Animal Crossing 2

Screenshot by Siliconera

It also streamlines the equipment element. Certain tools familiar to Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley appear. You don’t need to worry about watering crops. Just till the land with a hoe (or undo that with a broom), plant with seeds, and perhaps equip the basket if you want to harvest a lot of crops or flowers quickly. Use a net to catch butterflies. The rod catches fish. The axe is used on trees to get wood. You use a pickaxe to mine things like ore or rock salt. Again, it feels like simplicity and easy of use are a priority here.

The downside is that Pretty Princess Magical Garden Island can both be a little generic and a bit of a grind. The furniture and clothing are fine. However, many items fall into the fanciful and fairy tale genres. So setting specific aesthetic for Carrot Isle is a bit difficult. All visitors are rabbits, which means less diversity than Animal Crossing’s villagers. There’s a lot of downtime when you start really crafting what you need to get new buildings or access new gameplay elements, which means literally setting the Switch down for at least five minutes while you wait for everything to be made. I found it more frustrating than waiting for an actual real-world day to pass in Animal Crossing, for example. Not to mention there is that element of, say, needing certain color butterflies, but then needing to wait for it to spawn. So in some ways, it requires even more patience than the games it pulls ideas from.

Screenshot by Siliconera

Screenshot by Siliconera

Still Pretty Princess Magical Garden Island is a very pleasant experience. Especially if you enjoy the idea of customizing a whole area and games with relaxed farming elements. It doesn’t always offer the depth of an Animal Crossing installment, but there’s a novelty to going through some tasks, waiting a 15-30 minutes, then gradually building up and decorating Carrot Isle.

Pretty Princess Magical Garden Island is available for the Nintendo Switch.

Pretty Princess Magical Garden Island

A Royally Sweet Sim! Cultivate crops and raise livestock in this fun fantasy farming simulation game where you are free to play as you wish. Roam the island to collect ingredients and materials to craft the goods the residents need. Back on your farm, plant seeds to raise crops that will grow over time and collect milk and eggs from your animals. Use the money and goodwill you earn from your hard work to decorate the island and make it your perfectly royal fantasy home.

Pretty Princess Magical Garden Island feels like a simpler version of Animal Crossing that focuses on customization and gathering materials.

Food for Thought:
  • It's a little frustrating that the establishments that "make" things do so one-at-a-time at a slow pace, while the ones involving animals generating ingredients offer a bulk assortment of items all at once.
  • I wish that more of the rabbits and other princesses on the island had a bit more personality and substance, as it would provide more motivation to play and incentive to talk to people.

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Jenni Lada
Jenni is Editor-in-Chief at Siliconera and has been playing games since getting access to her parents' Intellivision as a toddler. She continues to play on every possible platform and loves all of the systems she owns. (These include a PS4, Switch, Xbox One, WonderSwan Color and even a Vectrex!) You may have also seen her work at GamerTell, Cheat Code Central, Michibiku and PlayStation LifeStyle.