Perusing Princess Maker 2’s porting progression

Princess Maker 2 is a 23-year-old game. Yet it’s only now, on the Princess Maker series’ 25th anniversary, that we’re finally seeing an official English release. A series taking that long to leave Japan isn’t that remarkable a feat. There are plenty of worthwhile titles trapped in a single region. It’s unusual in this instance due to the number of ports that exist. Not counting Princess Maker: Legend of Another World, Princess Maker 2 is available in nine different forms.

Princess Maker 2 began with humble beginnings. Gainax, a company best remembered for giving the world Neon Genesis Evangelion, gave us an opportunity to spend eight years raising a young girl sent to Earth by the gods in 1993. That’s when the game debuted on the Microsoft MSX, the operating system for the PC-9800 line of Japanese computers, and MS-DOS.

on September 30, 1994, Princess Maker 2 received its first port. That’s when it was brought to Fujitsu’s FM Towns computer system, another Japan-exclusive line of PCs. Interestingly enough, this version also acts as the game’s console debut, as Fujitsu released the FM Towns Marty, a backwards compatible console capable of playing all FM Towns games, in 1993.

It wouldn’t be the only system capable of playing the life sim for long. After a little over a year, Princess Maker 2‘s tendrils spread. Gainax extended the game’s reach, with Micro Cabin publishing the life sim on the 3DO on December 9, 1994 and Sega Saturn on October 27, 1995. In the midst of those releases, a TurboGrafx-CD version of Princess Maker 2 came to the TurboGrafx-16 too. NEC Interchannel, a subsidiary of NEC Home Electronics, published it on June 16, 1995.

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This is where Princess Maker 2’s history gets a murky. Between Princess Maker 2 and Princess Maker 3, Gainax developed and released Princess Maker: Legend of Another World. While this 1995 SNES game isn’t officially Princess Maker 2, it’s Princess Maker 2. It has an identical user interface, the same classes and jobs are present, you’re managing the same stats and the character designs are rather similar.

The main difference is the battle system. When players send their daughter out into the world in Princess Maker 2 or enter her in a competition, all battles are turn-based. Princess Maker: Legend of Another World relies on a card-based system where you use numbered weapon, spell and item cards against every opponent. Basically, it’s similar enough to mention as part of this installment’s history, but distinct enough to keep it separate.

1995 is also notable for being the year that Adventions, and later SoftEgg, would attempt to localize the MS-DOS version of Princess Maker 2. Tim Trzepacz, David Leary, Bryan Buck, Chris Nebel and Robert Woodhead attempted to license and localize the game. While the group managed to license the game from Gainax, localize and translate it, reprogram it and prepare manuals, multiple issues plagued the process of bringing it to the states. Though a deal with Intracorp led to a company called Ignite licensing it, multiple issues with Intracorp and Ignite eventually killed the project. Trzepacz’s Princess Maker 2 “obituary” on the SoftEgg site offers a detailed history of his work on the attempted English localization.

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But back to the Princess Maker 2 ports that did happen. After bringing the game (and a variant of it) to two fourth generation consoles and three fifth generation systems, Gainax backed off for a bit. Time was spent working on the PlayStation, Sega Saturn and PC versions of Princess Maker 3 instead. But you can’t keep a good game down, and three years after Princess Maker 3’s PC debut, Princess Maker 2 was back.

Princess Maker 2 legacy continues with the appearance of NineLives, a company which Trzepacz informs us was founded by Takami Akai, Princess Maker‘s creator, after leaving Gainax. Gainax and NineLives had brought Princess Maker 3 to the Sega Saturn and put together Princess Maker Pocket Daisakusen, a falling-block puzzle game, and Princess Maker: Go! Go! Princess, a boardgame, for the PlayStation. On July 19, 2001, Gainex, GeneX and NineLives teamed up for the Dreamcast’s Princess Maker Collection. This two-pack gave people access to both Princess Maker 2 and 3.

Gainax, GeneX and NineLives’s collaboration also resulted in the only portable port of Princess Maker 2. On November 23, 2001, Game Park released the GamePark 32 in South Korea. This handheld console could play official commercial games, as well as open source and homebrew titles. One of the 28 commercial games in its library was a Ninelives port of Princess Maker 2, released on August 8, 2002.

Which brings us to the end, the last of the Princess Maker 2 ports. Gainax had one more collaboration us its sleeve, when it came to this game. It teamed up with CyberFront, a Korean company, for Princess Maker 2 Refine. This is an updated version of the game that added voice acting, improved and new art, a remastered soundtrack and more endings. It arrived on both the PlayStation 2 and PC on September 30, 2004, with the PlayStation 2 version also appearing in Korea on December 8, 2004. Now going by CFK Co., Ltd., CyberFront released Princess Maker 2 Refine worldwide, complete with a new English translation, on September 28, 2016. It may have taken over 20 years, but finally Princess Maker 2 is available everywhere.

  • Tim Trzepacz

    NineLives is the company started by Princess Maker series creator Takami Akai on leaving Gainax.

    Thanks for recognizing our work on the MS-DOS version!
    Originally, we had hoped to license it to Sony Imagesoft, but it was dissolved in advance of the Playstation release. We tried many companies and eventually ran out of time on our two year license. For the Intracorp deal we had to recontact Gainax and relicense the game, which eventually led to a 3 way deal between our companies. Unfortunately, that made acting quickly during the cascading bankruptcies of Ignite and Intracorp an impossibility, and the rights ended up being tied up for 5 years until the agreement finally expired. At which point, Gainax was no longer talking to us, despite several attempts at contact.

    It would have been nice if CyberFront had at least approached us about using our translation, which by all reports seems to be far superior to what they are shipping in “Refine”.
    I’m glad to see the game finally have a proper release, but it is bittersweet that it couldn’t be the version that we worked so very hard on.

    Reply
    • Jenni Lada

      Thanks so much for letting us know about NineLives! I couldn’t find very much information on the company, and there was almost no information on it in English.

      (I loved your Princess Maker MS-DOS localization.)

      Reply

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