Game: Pretty Princess Magical Garden Island
Genre: Simulation, Lifestyle
System: Nintendo Switch
Developer | Publisher: Nippon Columbia Co. Ltd. | Aksys Games (NA) | Numskull (EU)
Age Rating: US Everyone | EU 3+
Price: US $39.99 | UK £29.99 | EU € 34,99
Release Date: June 22nd, 2023 (NA); June 23rd, 2023 (EU)
Review code used, with many thanks to MMPR.
Pretty Princess Magical Garden Island is the next adventure in the Pretty Princess series. Having previously restored the castle in Pretty Princess Party, you now have to revive a magical garden to bake the Princess Cake. If you played the previous game, there will be familiar aspects. But this is a stand-alone game, and I certainly didn’t feel I’d missed out on not having restored the castle.
Magical Garden – Carrot Isle
Once you’ve created your princess, the game briefly overviews what happened before and sets the scene for the new adventure.
You and your three princess friends are going to Carrot Isle to savour the delights of the Princess Cake. The talking rabbit butler, Asbel, transports you to the island. But, oh no, the island is deserted, except for Rabbit House and the old town square. No fruit, no animals, no shops and no recipes. But fear not; you and your magical bracelet will be able to restore everything as your happiness level rises.
However, before you can start, a tutorial takes you through the basics of changing clothes, farming and building. Although the game is played in real-time, the farming in the tutorial is done instantly.
A Pretty Princess
When you start the game, you choose your name, skin tone, and eye shape. You can’t alter these, but everything else, that is, eye colour, hair style and colour, makeup and clothes, can be. And, gosh, there are a lot of options.
Let me give you some figures: 35 hairstyles and colours; 29 eye and eye shadow colours; 29 lipstick colours; and 19 colours of blush. Then there are 100 dresses, each with its own shoes, crown and hair accessory to collect. An amazing 576 items to collect and adorn your pretty princess with!
With such an array of items, keeping track of your favourite outfits and looks could be tricky. However, a handy style library allows you to store your top ten combinations and change into them instantly.
You receive lumina (money) and gratitude points (increases happiness level) for each completed request. The requests vary; some might be a flower, whilst others might be 3 or 4 crafted items. Obviously, the more complicated the request is, the larger the reward. The rabbit NPCs are cute, and I wish their name appeared when they collected their items.
The whole game revolves around completing the requests to receive gratitude points. Gratitude points increase the happiness level. The higher the happiness level, the more buildings, décor, outfits, seeds, and recipes are available. You must get to level 15 to complete the main objective of making the Princess Cake. Each happiness level is around 500 gratitude points more than the previous one – enough of a challenge without being ridiculously hard. If the request is too difficult, you can decline it, though you’ll have to wait 5 minutes before declining any more.
You purchase most items from one of the shops in the town square, although some items are challenge rewards. Along with a purchase price, most items require one or more raw materials, for example, crops, flowers, wood, or dyes. Princess Charlotte runs the Decor Store, which, as well as decorative items, supplies the buildings, fences, flooring, bridges and stairs. Princess Laura runs the Green Shoppe, stocking crop seeds, flower seeds and saplings. Finally, Princess Katrina runs the Sparkle Boutique, selling makeup, hairstyles and clothing. Once you own the item, you can place as many of them as you like; there is no extra cost.
It’s great to see that as you progress up the levels, the items don’t increase in cost; most things cost just 100 lumina. I never ran out of lumina, but if you do, you can sell any surplus stock at the Froufou Market.
Farming and Crafting on Your Garden Island
Farming is one of the main activities, growing produce to fulfil requests, craft items or feeding the animals. At each happiness level, more seeds or saplings become available. The fruit trees and crops take 10 minutes to grow, with the fodder crops and flowers taking just 5 minutes. I’m so grateful that the game doesn’t increase the growing time at silly rates! Ten minutes isn’t long to wait and passes quickly when collecting shells, fishing, mining, catching butterflies or decorating.
Unfortunately, sowing and harvesting are a little tedious. Harvesting with a basket is quicker, but still, your pretty princess does not have any sense of urgency. However, any kind of harvesting could get anything between 1 to 3 resources and occasionally even 6!
Unlike harvesting, crafting will produce just one item. Most items take 5 minutes to make, with some of the higher-level recipes taking 10 minutes. You have five crafting slots, which work in sequence. Some crafted items are ingredients in other recipes, so I found having multiple shops produce these items (e.g. salt, sugar, cream and butter) useful. At one point, I had eighteen Dyed in the Wool shops to boost my production, as most of the makeup, clothing and décor use dyes. There is a limit to the number of shops you can place, although this increases with each level.
The Magical Garden Island
There are Animal Crossing: New Horizons vibes, and the map and rolling landscape are definitely similar. But Pretty Princess Magical Garden Island is definitely less stressful (no lurking tarantulas or huge repayment costs).
The map shows where Rabbit House, bridges and stairs are, as well as your location. Although you start with the same rivers and hills, terraforming (granted at happiness level 10) allows you to create the Carrot Isle of your dreams.
Build, and They Will Come
The build menu is straightforward, but it is tricky to place the items in the right spot the first time. Sometimes it seemed like I could place it on the half square, and at other times not. I also wish you could rotate the object; moving the character around to get the right direction is frustrating. Unlike the crops and flowers, décor forms barriers.
There are over 1500+ décor items, ranging from plant pots to lookout towers, lampposts to phone boxes. Some of the décor is out of keeping with a garden though, for instance, beds and bookcases.
I always overthink when it comes to decorating and tend to leave it until the end. Perhaps I’m just not the decorating kind of gamer! Unfortunately, my indecisiveness meant that when I presented the Princess Cake, and everyone commented about how far the island had come and how wonderful it looked, my island didn’t look that much different from when I first landed. So if you want some great end-of-game photos, decorate just south of Rabbit House!
However, the game doesn’t stop with the Princess Cake; there are still more requests to fulfil and decorations to unlock.
Excluding decorating time, it takes around 10 hours to reach level 15. Of course, you can play for as long as you like. With décor to match every season, there are many reasons to keep playing and decorating your Pretty Princess Magical Garden Island.
If you want to collect all the items, you will need to complete all the challenges. Most will be completed by just playing the game. You get a reward for each complete challenge, whether décor, clothing or makeup.
The controls are simple and well explained, with an excellent ‘help’ menu if you need a reminder. However, the game does not support a Pro Controller, reducing my overall enjoyment. In addition, some of the interaction is cumbersome, for example, exiting a shop and confirming their farewell message.
There is no touchscreen functionality, but at least the font size is appropriate for handheld play. The game autosaves, but there is also a manual save, so you can exit whenever you wish. There is only one instance of the game per user, but each user on the console has their own island. The game works in real-time, but no night/day or season cycles exist.
There are some nice quality-of-life features, including viewing the item name, no need to guess what the picture is! A single hit to mine rocks or fell trees and a very generous butterfly-catching zone. You can navigate the menus with single actions. No need to hold down buttons whilst moving the control sticks! Although the game could benefit from an auto-run feature or a quicker walk speed!
The only control options are around sound levels. The music is pleasant enough, but without the special effects ‘ring’, it would get repetitive.
In its style and presentation, Pretty Princess Magical Garden Island is aimed at a young princess-type gamer. I don’t fit that description, but I still enjoyed my time on Carrot Isle. It’s a stress-free dip in and out of the game, which is bright, colourful and full of sweetness.
Final Verdict: I Like it