It is something of a miracle that Princess Maker Go! Go! Princess was even localized. Years ago, the localization of an ordinary numbered installment would not only have been improbable, but impossible. Now one of its spin-offs somehow managed to appear everywhere. But people might wonder what is going on. What even is it? It might not be enough saying, “This is a Princess Maker board game.”
That is a good place to start. Princess Maker Go! Go! Princess is the Princess Maker board game. More specifically, it is a sugoroku game along the lines of Super Mario Party or Wii Party’s Board Game Island. You have a set, colorful map with objectives that change once one person reaches them for the first time. In place of minigames, you have event on spaces where your princess candidate could pay to attend a class and boost stats, work at a job to earn money and increase stats, battle an enemy or other princess, purchase items, or reduce stress.
This means that there is a lot of racing around to curry favor with the royal family. Between one and four people can play, with the option of having up to three AI opponents. Once the king declares what the latest challenge for the candidates is, they race to be the first person there to get a monetary reward and a relationship boost with the prince. The map is a recreation of the Princess Maker 3 kingdom, and there is only one “right” way to get to each designated location. For example, the courage test will always be in the cemetery, the mystical tree that needs grooming is always in the western forest, and the oasis is always in the desert in the northeast. (If you don’t choose entire map mode, there will be more central challenges with more route options.) Landing on an opposing princess results in a turn-based battle, which causes the loser to lose a turn. You also need to get an exact dice roll to land on the spot where you’ll meet the prince.
While this probably sounds very similar to racing around a Mario Party board in search of stars and collecting coins to get rich, Princess Maker Go! Go! Princess infuses a lot of the series’ elements into its DNA. When you start the game and pick your princess candidate, three of which are returning heroines and one is original, you also pick the parent’s job. This influences your starting position on the map and initial income. Your only task isn’t to try and keep meeting the prince. You also want to shape your character by altering her stats to influence the kind of person she could become. Stress can be a detrimental factor, causing you to loose turns if you don’t pay for a doctor to lower it during a random event or land on the right sort of space to decrease it. You can buy and switch outfits, with ones like the summer dress preventing heat stroke and more expensive ones boosting stats. At the end, every person gets an “ending” profession, though the loser seems to always ends up being a maid training to be a housewife.
The big downside to Princess Maker Go! Go! Princess is how reliant it is upon luck. If you happen to be closer to wherever the next event is, you have an edge over your opponents. You’re especially lucky if you get an exact roll to the designated location on the first try. RNG determines if you are fortunate enough to land on a job or school square in town, the most reliable means of increasing stats. Odds are you won’t probably get close to the store that sells outfits in the northwest region of the kingdom proper, which means heatstroke could be a very real threat. The game will sometimes automatically increase the lead princess candidate’s Pride stat, giving the winner even more of an edge. You could also find yourself with the most money and seemingly highest stats during the game, but if you and your rivals all met the prince the same number of times, it is still anyone’s game.
Basically, Princess Maker Go! Go! Princess is weird. It seems easy to toss it into the Princess Maker board game camp, but it gets more detailed than that. The stats you end up earning and relationship points you accrue from meeting the prince are a huge factor when it comes to winning. So is luck. It is essentially a hybrid with simulation elements chucked in, requiring someone to occasionally check in and monitor what’s going on with their candidate’s life and perhaps even forgo pursuing an objective in favor of trying to land on some job or school squares.
Princess Maker Go! Go! Princess is available for the Nintendo Switch and PC. It is also available on the PlayStation in Japan.