Thursday, May 16, 2024

Princess Maker 2: Summary and Rating

From the final report.
      
Princess Maker 2
Japan
Gainax Co., Ltd. (developer and publisher), Adventions (English translation)
Released 1991 for PC-98, 1992 for MSX and DOS, 1995 for TurboGrafx CD; English DOS version from 1996
Date Started: 5 May 2024
Date Ended: 8 May 2024
Total Hours: 6
Difficulty: Easy (2.0/5), in the sense there's no way to "lose"; hard (4.0/5) to get the best ending
Final Rating: (to come later)
Ranking at time of posting: (to come later) 
       
As my longtime readers know, I don't have any children of my own. This was mostly a conscious decision that Irene and I made in our 20s. She has never questioned the decision; I find myself questioning it more and more as I get older and reflect that it won't be many years before I have no family at all, and all the things that I treasure will end up in an estate auction or a landfill.

But when I think about such things, I am not missing the presence of a real child. I am missing the presence of a hypothetical happy, healthy child who survived to adulthood and is still speaking to me. I suppose that's the norm, but it's hardly a guarantee. The fact that it's not a guarantee is 50% of why I chose not to have children. It would be nice if raising them were like Princess Maker 2, where certain inputs lead inevitably to certain outcomes. In real life, you never know how a developing human being's psycho-biology is going to react to the most innocuous inputs--or fail to react to the most heartfelt ones. I read this harrowing account of a man's relationship with his son on Reddit four years ago and haven't gone a week without thinking about it since. That is simply not a risk I'm willing to take.
      
I would probably get the sort of daughter who spends $3,000 of my money on a leather dress.
   
Well, for a while, I got to have a virtual child whose accomplishments I could be proud of. What interests me is the qualitative difference between playing your character and playing an unseen, ephemeral character (the father) who in turn directs the action of a "child" character. Functionally, it ought to feel like the same thing. Except for the stupid butler constantly asking how I wanted to set Villainy's schedule for the month, it would be equally accurate to say that I played Villainy, particularly when she went on adventures and I controlled her avatar. But Princess Maker introduces that extra layer, and there's something oddly effective about it. After I finished with the main game, I briefly tried to engineer a "bad" outcome by assigning Villainy to work repeated shifts in a sleazy bar, increasing her "Sin" and decreasing her "Morality." That lasted only as long as she agreed to become the mistress for a middle-aged guy in exchange for a monthly stipend. I could role-play a character who did such a thing, but I didn't want to role-play the father of such a character, and particularly not a father whose own decisions had put his daughter in that kind of a situation. Weird.
        
And I'm done.
      
In my first entry on the game, I covered its basic premise and mechanics. I thought I'd give a year-by-year account of Villainy's life here:
   
Age 10
   
The game began on the girl's 10th birthday. For the first month, not knowing what I was doing, I assigned her to 10 days of combat training, 10 days of farm work, and 10 days of babysitting. The combat training improved her statistics, but it cost so much money that I spent most of the year impoverished. She wasn't strong enough to succeed at farm work. She did all right in babysitting. In subsequent months, I had her try other types of work, but she didn't bring back much money because her skills weren't very high yet.
         
That's nice, but my bank account is not.
       
I prematurely sent her into the wilderness because a video or image that I saw showed the character opening a treasure chest. I thought that might be an easy way to make some money. I had no idea how dangerous the forest was. I don't think she even had any weapons or armor; I couldn't have afforded them. She met one monster, was defeated, and had to be flown back home by Cube.
         
She should have paid attention to the sign.
     
Over the coming months, I tried to make up money by having her work, but I didn't realize how the whole stress/constitution system worked yet, so the experience just made her sick and disobedient. During the "Talk" phase, I gave her a lecture each month ("Scold"), which reduced some of the disobedience but presumably didn't do much for our relationship. She started having days of unpaid work not because she didn't have the skills for the job but because she simply refused.
   
Every October, there's a Harvest Festival in which you can enroll the girl into the combat tournament, the dance party, the art festival, or the cooking contest. I chose cooking, but I hadn't developed any of those skills, and she came in dead last.
      
Villainy goes for Star Baker.
    
As the year came to an end, my finances got worse. I scrimped to buy a club and suit of leather armor and sent Villainy out again to adventure, but she couldn't come close to defeating any enemies. When she turned 11, I didn't have enough money for a present for her. I was going into negative values every month just feeding her (this is the only debt the game lets you accrue).
     
Age 11
   
The year began without promise as a seer visited the house and predicted that Villainy would become "an ordinary housewife." But as the year passed, I got a handle on how work and training affected different skills. I was still primarily interested in getting her into fighting shape, so I had her take combat, dueling, and strategy lessons whenever I could afford it, and kept her working at jobs that built her constitution and strength otherwise.
     
Calm down. I'm still new to this fatherhood thing.
     
I had to buy her summer and winter dresses to replace the "plain dress" she had at the beginning, then remember to change her as the seasons changed, else she'd suffer a "Constitution" penalty. 
 
I upgraded her weapon to a longsword and sent her out on more adventures. She finally scored her first kill against a condor, but otherwise didn't last long in the east forest. When the Harvest Festival rolled around, I enrolled her in the combat tournament, which does this fun bracketing thing, but she lost her fist battle.
    
On the other hand, "Katana Terror" is someone you don't mind losing to.
      
Age 12
      
"Hunter" opened up as a job option, and I wasted a lot of time assigning her to it, since it improves both "Constitution" and "Combat Skill," although it increases sin. She could never make a wage at it, though, no matter how high she got in those skills. I discovered later that success at hunting depends partly on "Intelligence," which I hadn't been building.
   
I continued to send her to martial schools when I had the money. A couple of times during the year, some warlord showed up and decided to humiliate the school by stealing its standard. Villainy challenged the warlord each time, but lost the battles, and the school would get closed for a few months.
     
Wasn't this a plot point in Ultima VII?
    
But as her skills grew, she was visited by Valkyria, "the guardian of all true warriors," who gave her a further boost. 

Age 13
      
"Gravedigger" became a job, and I set her to it a couple of times, as it builds "Magical Defense" and some foes attack with magic. The seer visited again and now predicted that Villainy would become a soldier.
        
She finally started to get successful at adventuring, clearing the east forest and finding several treasure chests, which finally put my account books solidly in the black. She also cleared most of the northern glacier and southern islands. (Once the scale tips on combat, it tips fast.) She came in second in the combat tournament that year, after which random people started challenging her to duels a few times a year. Every successful duel increased her "Fighter Reputation."
     
A random fight in the street.
     
Her "Sin" went up from all the battles, so I had to keep donating to the church and having the girl work church jobs (which pays a pittance) in between her combat trainings.
   
One night while working graveyard duty, a skeleton knight came out of a grave and challenged her to combat. He ran away before she defeated him the first time, but the second time, she defeated him and got 2,539 gold pieces. This is one of several places in the game in which you get a special, large reward for completing a unique encounter. Thanks to this money and other winnings, I was able to buy her a katana and mithril armor, the best items that the store sells.
       
That was an awfully specific amount.
      
A traveling salesperson came to the house offering various artifacts. I bought Villainy the Venus Jewels. From that point, every birthday, one of Venus's minions showed up at the house and gave the girl +15 "Refinement," +15 "Charisma," and +15 "Sensitivity." She mostly squandered these boosts by working jobs that lowered the scores back to 0.

A couple years later.
     
Age 14
      
As the year began, she cleared out the western wastes. There were a couple of odd encounters there:
  
  • A demon cave. When she entered, a demon confronted her and said that it "isn't a place for humans" and cast a spell that put her back outside. I'm not sure if there's any way around this.
       
It's nice that he warned me instead of killing me.
     
  • A maze guarded by a dragon. He offered to let her pass for 200 gold pieces, but she chose to fight. She won easily, after which the dragon confessed he was only 13--a baby as dragons go. He slinked away. A commenter said that one of the endings has the girl marrying a young dragon; I imagine this is the one, though I don't know how it happens. She fought a couple of regular dragons in the maze and met an ancient one in the final chamber, but he was too old and tired to fight. A treasure chest held a Dragon's Fang, which increased "Fighter Reputation" by 20. 
       
I'm through doing what I'm told.
      
Back at home, a duelist named Anita Cassandra showed up at the house and proclaimed herself to be Villainy's archnemesis. "Don't come to the next Combat Tournament," she warned. "You'll only embarrass yourself." Villainy didn't take that well. 
       
A fateful meeting? She came to my house!
     
I explored the wilderness area some more and found a few things I  missed the first time. When the Harvest Festival rolled around, Villainy won the combat tournament, defeating Anita in the first round. The king gave her a Royal Sword and 3,000 gold pieces.
    
Age 15
      
Both I and Villainy were pretty pleased as to her martial accomplishments by now. I decided it was time to train her in some other areas and started enrolling her in dancing, poetry, theology, science, and particularly protocol classes, which increased her more courtly attributes like "Refinement," "Decorum," "Intelligence," and "Art." 
    
Villainy is getting a little arrogant.
    
I tried to help her out by buying a silk dress, but Cube said that--at 4'11" and 97 pounds--she was too heavy for it. I put her on a restricted diet, but it kept saying she was still too fat at 95 pounds, and the restricted diet took a toll on her constitution. I eventually gave up and put her back on normal rations.
     
Ah, yes. This happened at some point. I thought we'd encountered a "Paimon" in some previous game, but I couldn't find it.
       
As "Decorum" increased, she could visit higher and higher-ranked people at the castle, which in turn gave her boosts to reputation. I had neglected this for the first half of the game, so she struggled to catch up. I didn't want to sacrifice her strength, constitution, and martial skills, so every time they started to slip, I had her work a farm or sent her back for combat training. There wasn't much point to more adventuring, but I occasionally sent her out for money. She won the Combat Tournament again, easily.
   
Ages 16 and 17
       
I give her a book on her 16th birthday.
      
By now, she had job options to work at a sleazy bar or a cabaret. These jobs paid well and increased her "Charisma," but they lowered "Faith," "Morality," "Refinement," and "Temperament," and they increased "Sin." I only tried them once or twice. 
       
What good is sitting alone in your room?
        
Her "Decorum" got high enough that she could visit the king. 
 
All anyone wants to talk about is my father!
      
I threw myself at the War God in the northern glacier a few times, but I couldn't come close to defeating him even with my combat skill at maximum. My constitution and strength never got higher than 50% of maximum, so perhaps that was the solution.
         
I kept up the training and had her work a variety of jobs she hadn't done in the past to try to diversify her skill set. She won both combat tournaments in her final two years. I tried to enroll her in other things, but she begged to fight the tournament because of her rivalry with Anita Cassandra, and I capitulated.
   
The End
      
The endgame commenced when Villainy turned 18. The first thing I got was a letter from her tailored to the priorities that I set for her. Phrases included: "I've grown up so healthy"; "You must have been trying to make me strong in mind and body"; "I ended up becoming very good at farming."
     
I don't know why she felt compelled to write me a letter.
     
The king offered to make her a general in his army, but she declined: "I want to go out on my own into the wide world and test my strength." General Kruger (who runs the strategy school as well as the combat tournaments) made her promise to come home and tell of her adventures.
       
General Kruger might be hinting at some unresolved feelings.
     
The endgame text revealed that she had many adventures and eventually met a "kind knight" and married him and had her own daughter. Her travels took her to an eastern capital, where she destroyed a demon that was leading an army of bandits. She eventually came home, and we held a banquet in her honor.
     
She'd look relatively heroic here if her eyes weren't as large as tennis balls.
    
Finally, I was contacted by the angel who gave me the girl in the first place. She congratulated me and thanked me on fine parenting skills and ran through the final outcome:

  • Villainy had become a hero.
  • She performed well at her work.
  • She found a good husband.
  • Her maternal instincts leave something to be desired.
  • The angel had planned to recall the girl to the heavens, but has decided to let her live a mortal life.
           
Maybe give her the choice? Or would that be too revolutionary for this game?
    
I then got a final score sheet that recapped her endgame attributes but also had a bunch of statistics I hadn't seen before showing that she had a very low maternal instinct, a very low "relationship with father," a high "relationship with butler," and absolutely no "relationship with Prince," who I didn't even know existed. To be fair, I didn't take her on many vacations, take her out to many meals, buy her many presents, or even talk to her very often. I mostly let "time off" handle stress-reduction instead of those other possibilities.
   
And I think I'm going to leave it there. I know some commenters wanted to see me run through it again, maybe more than once, but a full game takes at least 4 hours, even if you're quick about it. I don't want to spend that much more time on a game that's not really an RPG; it just weirdly has an RPG embedded in it as an option. I wonder if there are any other games like this, like if Fallout 4 wasn't an RPG, but I still felt I had to play and rate it because of the Grognak game you can play on the Pip-Boy.
       
Call us a bunch of Victorian prudes, but I'm glad this wouldn't fly in the U.S.
     
I can tell from online sources that there are 74 potential endings depending on your morality score, sin score, and various reputations. If you didn't get any reputation very high, I guess you end up working for the rest of your life at whatever job you worked most. If you got any of your attributes high enough but not any of the reputations, you can be anything from a maid to a ruling queen.
   
If you got a reputation high like I did with "Fighter Reputation," you end up with a job that reflects that reputation as well as some other attributes. "Hero" was the highest possible job I could have gotten on the warrior track, so that was pretty good for my first time out. But it's because I took lessons that brought my "Sensitivity" high. If I hadn't done that, I would have ended up as a general or a lower position like a knight or soldier. "Bounty Hunter" is the lowest you can go on the fighter track, and that's only if your morality is low.
        
He says, just before I defeat him.
       
There are separate ranks of jobs for characters who specialized in magic (from sorceress to magician hero), social skills (divorcee to queen by marriage), and art (dancer to jester). There is only one final job for a character who specialized in domestic skills: housewife.
   
There are a variety of "dark" endings if you have a high "Sin" score at the end, from "harlot" to "princess of darkness," with "bandit," "crime boss," and "bondage queen" along the way. 
  
I guess the girl's marriage prospects are quasi-independent of her job. To marry the prince and fulfill the title of the game, she has to meet the "young officer" at the castle every January, get a charisma over 200, and get a high "Refinement" score. She can also end up marrying Cube if she has a high enough charisma and relationship with him, and yes, if her relationship with her father is strong enough, she can (yuck) end up marrying him. The John Jarndyce jokes write themselves.
      
I don't know why the game often depicted her with one eye open and one eye closed.
     
I found the game cute. It's not the sort of game I'm addicted to, and I don't really want to play more of them, but it was an okay diversion for a few hours.
   
For the GIMLET, I decided to rate the totality of the game rather than just the "RPG part" of the game.
     
  • 2 points for a generic game world that you don't learn very much about.
  • 7 points for character creation and development. It's really the raison d'etre of the entire series. There are many statistics to manage, and together they determine success or failure at a variety of enterprises.
    
I wonder what kind of dance they're doing. I think I've seen that move before.
    
  • 2 points for NPC interaction. The NPCs you meet in the wilderness don't really tell you anything interesting, and there isn't much to do with the folks at the castle. I'm regarding everyone else as "encounters."
  • 5 points for encounters and foes. The enemies are nothing special, but the game deserves quite a bit of credit for the large variety of non-combat encounters that test the character's mettle.
      
That's a pretty cool dragon.
      
  • 2 points for magic and combat. With essentially only one physical attack option, one magical attack option, and no other options, it's hard to give much credit here.
  • 4 points for equipment. You have one weapon, one suit of armor, and a decent variety of artifact items that affect your statistics in various ways.
     
Villainy's stuff, around mid-game.
     
  • 8 points for the economy. The game has almost everything I like here: Several ways to make money, several ways to spend money, and no point at which money stops being useful.
  • 4 points for quests. The only quest is to end the game in as good a position as possible, but there are plenty of options for how to do that, and plenty of endings.
     
It's not a "quest," exactly, but Villainy completes a personal goal.
      
  • 5 points for graphics, sound, and interface. The graphics are nice. I wish the girl looked like a real person instead of a cartoon character, but otherwise the monster portraits and other NPC portraits were well-composed, as was the opening and closing artwork. The interface had redundant mouse and keyboard commands and flowed nicely. I give no points for the sound, which I mostly didn't experience because of the incessant, pounding music that couldn't be turned off independently. When I forced myself to leave it on just to listen for effects, there weren't enough to bother talking about.
  • 6 points for gameplay. It points for the right difficulty level, just about the right length, and replayability. However, I suspect that successful games of any type look very similar to each other, and thus setting the girl's schedule month after month must get awfully boring after just a couple of games. I couldn't even bring myself to do it twice.
        
I wonder if this number is the same in the original Japanese.
      
That gives us a relatively high 45. If you told me a month ago that something called Princess Maker 2 would end up in the top 10% of games for 1993, I'd have said you were crazy. Again, though, I'm being a little generous. If I had just ranked the adventuring and combat part of the game independently, the score would have come out closer to 25. I don't mean for this entry to set a precedent for how I handle any further games of a different genre that happen to have an embedded RPG. I do hope there are not a lot of them.
   
I say that knowing that there will be at least one more. Gainax followed Princess Maker 2 with Princess Maker: Legend of Another World (1995), Princess Maker: Fairy Tales Come True (1997), Princess Maker: Go!Go! Princess (1999), and Princess Maker 5 (2007). Of these, MobyGames tags only the 1995 and 1997 games as RPGs, and the 1995 one was released only for the SNES. I don't know whether this is a case of different contributors having different standards, or whether the later games really do drop the adventuring/combat/RPG elements. 
   
MobyGames lists a small number of other combinations between "human life simulator" and RPG, including Real Lives (2002), some ports of The Sims 2 (2005), Kudos 2 (2008), Long Live the Queen (2012), and Her. (2018; the period is part of the title, apparently). However, this is a mashing of genres for which I expect personal opinion will create wildly inconsistent results as to RPG status. 
 

77 comments:

  1. Legend of Another World (1995) is basically a port of this game to the SNES, and not needed even under the most completionist agenda (much as nobody insists you should go back and play every version of Might And Magic I).

    Fairy Tales Come True (1997) is a proper sequel, but has no "adventure" mode at all - that's found only in the first two games.

    There's not much reason to cover any other games in this franchise - the changes to the core "daughter-building" character development probably aren't enough to justify coverage unless you decided that having a virtual daughter again for a period of time was appealing.

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  2. As a fan of Evangelion, I knew about some other stuff Gainax did back then, but never really got interested in PM2. A GIMLET of 45 sure is a surprise xD

    One game less for you, one more to me...

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  3. I've dabbled a bit with "Real Lives", and while it's a nice diversion for a while, I wouldn't really call it an RPG. It's tends way more towards Life simulator. "Character creation" (if you want to call it that) is entirely random (the only thing you can choose - and even that is optional - is the country of birth), there aren't really any quests (unless you call "I want this person to work in a very specific job" a quest - it's more a personal goal, and even that can fail randomly), all "NPCs" are also just a set of numbers you have only the barest of interaction with... Even the economy and "equipment " is entirely random (when's random event says you car has been stolen I found it impossible to actively go out and buy a new one, even though I had the funds necessary!). You never really feel truly in control of your "life" - which I suppose is partly the point, but hours completely against the idea of an RPG in my opinion. Basically the only way this is an RPG is because you get assigned a character (a "role" if you will) that has certain stats. A nice diversion and a learning experience how live can be entirely different and full of hardship just because you were born in a different country... Bur really not a "role-playing game" as such.

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    1. I suspected a lot of them would be miscoded.

      Speaking of which, some utter wanker tagged this as an RPG:

      https://www.mobygames.com/game/144284/lucky-hands/

      I submitted a correction, which will probably get approved in 2027 or so.

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  4. The element where the angels want to recall the daughter to the heavens after she was raised on Earth is probably derivative of the tale of Princess Kaguya/The Bamboo Cutter.

    As for the "one eye closed" thing with a smirk, that's a wink, which I think is mostly an anime trope. It's considered to be both cute and cheeky.

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    1. I'm assuming that the anime trope you're referring to is that winking is something a cute girl might do without the connotations it has in Anglo-American culture (slyness and/or flirtatiousness). Not that winking is itself an anime trope.

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    2. I know what a wink is, of course, but she spends like two years straight looking like that. It doesn't look cute or cheeky; it looks . . . any word I can think to put in there, I'm not supposed to use anymore.

      Delete
  5. Chet, do we have a glossary term for games that constantly display their title on screen, which annoys absolutely everyone?

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    1. its good for screenshots but most games that do this is from long before the time of screenshots...

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    2. It does not annoy me usually, it was mostly done at a time where there were no real game aesthetics standards or guidelines and mostly used to reduce the amount of screen size to refresh on hardware with limited capabilities.

      It does annoy a bit here, since we should be past that age and the graphics do not look to be that taxing.

      On the other hand, I find striking how good the screenshot look, considering they are using a video mode with low color and high-res.

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    3. Oh, I like the hi-res 16-colour graphics as well. It's a shame that not a lot of DOS games used them. Mostly just ports of Japanese computer games, though I know "Shanghai II: Dragon's Eye" also used the hi-res mode.

      That said, critics really didn't like the 640*400*16 mode for some reason. Here's a CD-ROM magazine that briefly mentions it:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTkSfgrFWFs

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    4. Syndicate and Darkseed are two known DOS games that also use hires VGA. The latter came about because H.R. Giger didn’t like the more common 320x200x256 mode and insisted to use the higer res mode as a condition to provide artwork to be used in the game.

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    5. I think some of the MoraffWare games support 640x400x16.

      Also, I think the vanity plate was often used in computer games to save the computer's processor on having to render moving parts in the whole screen, especially in the Spectrum/Commodore/Amiga era.

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    6. That's a good suggestion (the glossary entry). The term ought to be expandable to give extra punch to games that put the creator's name or the developer/publisher name on every screen.

      We need something that's a portmanteau of something ilke narcissism and something like interface. "Eguism"?

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    7. What's wrong with having the title on the interface? It's not like if they needed to do that they were going to do something important with the space otherwise.

      @Static, the interesting part is that technically most, if not all Japanese computer games from this time would have exactly that look, for reasons described beforehand. Depending on the game, you might even be able to play it without knowledge of Japanese, but that's rare.

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    8. Same with books which tell me their title and author again on each double-page, as if I would forget what I'm reading in between flipping pages...

      My vote goes to Radiant's 'Vanity Plate' which could be expanded to the 'Ego Vanity Plate' if it includes the author... err, are there any other than Sid Meier?

      Delete
  6. "I don't want to spend that much more time on a game that's not really an RPG; it just weirdly has an RPG embedded in it as an option."
    My point proven, thanks. It was an interesting read however, I feared your reaction to this would be much worse.

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  7. If memory serves, the "Dragon Bride" ending is achieved by returning to the dragon's cave after the first time. The old dragon will give your daughter a badass dragonscale outfit in exchange for a kiss. Later on, the old and young dragon- in human form- will visit you at home, where the young dragon proposes and the old one offers a dowry. If you accept, your daughter is not happy about being given away, but it works out in the end. In fact, amusingly, the ending shows that she's the one who wears the pants in the relationship. On the scale of badass femininity, henpecking a draconic husband ranks pretty high, I'd say...

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    1. Thanks for filling that in. I almost wish I'd gotten that one.

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  8. I played about 3 or 4 games of this man years ago. The daughter ended up as warlord! She resented me a bit though.

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  9. Congratulation for Hero Ending. In my 1st playthrough I have also tried Fighter career and even managed to defeat God but I have got Bounty Hunter Ending, which disappointed me.
    And then I tried art career and courted the Prince but she has decided to not get married because she did not do any baby sitting.
    Man, those mechanics are weird.

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  10. Would her relationship with Prince have been better if you had changed her name to a symbol?

    Of all the games you have blogged about, this may be the most surprising. Surprising in that it's a lot better (and that you liked it a lot better) than expected. I guess "production values" are worth something then, the game seems very polished. I think we've seen a lot of games with good ideas but bad execution, more so than games with wonky ideas and good execution.

    Anyway, a nice discovery! I doubt I'll ever play it, but it was nice reading about it.

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  11. I found myself playing one of these on Steam called Magical Diary, about witches in a magic school, because I'd not played a raising game before and it seemed to focus more on the development of a character who would then be used to explore blobber RPG dungeons with her school pals. (Possibly also the setting of a magical school led me to believe the combat would be magic-centric which appeals to me - but I'm just guessing) But as it is with raising games, by the time your character in the setting is ready to strike out and do something cool and exciting with the abilities you've been priming them with for the entire game, the game ends and that part you were playing -was- the game. I think after playing four hours of Diary, I didn't actually get to fight more than two combats - one half way through the game which was normal RPG battle stuff, which I liked , and another which was leading to a big boss battle graduation exam but got interrupted half way through by visual novel yakking and then rot13( V tbg zl CP'f zntvp cbjref gnxra njnl orpnhfr jvgpurf ybfr gurve cbjref vs gurl oernx n cebzvfr naq ng fbzr cbvag V thrff V znqr n cebzvfr gb qb jungrire vg gnxrf gb fhpprrq naq gura gur tnzr fnvq V unq gb xvyy fbzrbar V yvxrq naq V ershfrq ) and I got nullified and expelled. Something like that, it was a long time ago. But it was my first (and only) raising game and I had to recalibrate my expectations when I read that that -was- the end of the game either way.

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  12. "all the things that I treasure will end up in an estate auction or a landfill"

    That's not unlikely to happen even with kids.

    I would unselfishly volunteer to take your Jazz collection, though.

    "That lasted only as long as she agreed to become the mistress for a middle-aged guy in exchange for a monthly stipend"

    That guy is middle aged if he lives to 110.

    But the real injustice is - your daughter becomes a mistress and gets 150G per month, while you single-handedly saved a whole town, and get 500G per year (and you actually have to work for it)?

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  13. Unless the game has similar non-combat rewards that you didn't encounter, training your daughter as a fighter early on seems like the optimal strategy. That way you build up the finances, and can concentrate on the desired career later on. It sounds more effective than developing her in the desired direction early on, but having to work all the time for it.

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    1. That basically softlocks you out of the best endings, because the skills to be a good fighter abuse a lot of your "social" stats as well as the opportunity cost.

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  14. Hmm. We can have her become a fighter, a magician, a "rogue" of sorts and some kind of a noble member of society?

    What if we play this four times and take the resulting princes ses and princes into an actual 40-50 hour party RPG afterwards? Does this sound like fun? Any who played this, how would you feel leading a party to adventure that consisted of heroes and heroines you brought up, so to speak?

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    1. You do this in condensed form in Traveller and Darklands.

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    2. That's basically Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War. Characters pair up at the end of the first part, and their children's stats after a time jump influenced by their parents'. Child units also show up in Awakening and Fates but it's very dumb in Fates.

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    3. A related concept might be how in Dwarf Fortress you can create a dungeon in one mode and then go explore it in another.

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    4. I was aware of Traveller and Darklands. However, the process is quite condensed there, so I don't think the emotional bond is even remotely on the same level as the kind of affection I assume you develop here. Hence my question.

      I was unaware of Fire Emblem, though. That sounds intriguing, though of course you would have to structure the game around it. "Child units", yeah.

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    5. It's tabletop, and I don't think there's ever been a digital adaptation, but Pendragon has you playing families of knights. You raise your kids and they take over from you when you get too old for questing.

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  15. I wouldn't feel too bad about not having kids if it was a reasoned decision taken long ago. There are far too many humans consuming too much of the planet, it is completely unsustainable and the consequences become more obvious with each passing day. Despite headlines about falling birthrates the global population is still growing rapidly. More people choosing to have less or no kids might just give the environment half a chance of not becoming very hostile to life as we know it.

    Plus, humans who didn't reach adulthood before the dawn of social media are increasingly suffering mental health issues. In my country 16% of the population were prescribed anti-depressants in single year a few years back. It'll probably be 1 in 5 this year and increase for years to come. That's not an existence I want to risk bringing any lifeform into. Where they feel they can't get through life with their own mind and body chemistry, so they have to alter it. Maybe, if society addresses anonymity, anger and hate on the internet things will improve - but we seem further away from that than ever before.

    Not having kids is one lf the best decisions I've ever made. At the age when I was considering being a parent society's ills weren't so well known. The internet was still warm and fluffy and not obsessed about ellicitng negative emotions for financial and political gain. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with people who have kids, but yeah. Not having a kid or even not having a partner is nothing people should feel like means that their time spent enjoying life has been a waste.

    Just my philosophical tuppence on a retro gaming website!

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    1. Most of the reasons you give here are the same things that motivated Irene and me. I think the planet is overpopulated enough that anyone who's on the fence about having kids should do everyone else a favor and not have them.

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  16. I don't know man - is that Reddit thing for real? I'm 50, have three kids, know a ton of parents... I've never even heard of anything like that. The worst I can think of is some friends of ours. Five kids, one is a basket case who assaulted her sleeping baby brother when he was an infant and she was six or seven. It obviously terrified them; they spent a year worrying that their daughter would kill her siblings. Nothing like that ever happened again, though. They got her help, and medication, and she got older; she's much better.

    I mean that story had him like licking a knife while stabbing an infant at 15 and threatening to rape the corpse of his mother. This doesn't sound like a real person. Plus I don't believe the narrator married a boxer. Nobody marries female boxers except other female boxers. The whole thing smells.

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    1. Wow, okay, so that last paragraph has sexism AND gay stereotypes in it. Have you ever considered that female boxers are, in fact, women, and that many men might be attracted to those women?

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    2. I read only part of that account, and I thought: "If it is not fiction, it would be a good base for some fiction, or a job for an exorcist". The author wrote he is in therapy, so it could also be an account of his distorted perception of reality.

      Personally, I am father of one and I am absolutely happy with my daughter. I would even love to have a second child, sooner or later.

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    3. Right? I mean the story basically claims that they were living with a cartoon version of a serial killer for 18 years without a break. And then the final battle happens and no police get involved at all? At any point? It just doesn’t ring true.

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    4. I won't speak to the "final battle", but having known a kid who went on to be a rapist and murderer, I can definitely say that some really are that irredeemably awful. They have that utterly dead, bored, everything's-a-joke-and-everyone-is-stupid look in their eyes, and can't be reached by even the most well-meaning and virtuosic therapist.

      That said, that kind of dead-eyed emptiness is usually a product of abuse (though maybe if the kid in the story had an untreated medical condition or sensory-overload neurodivergence that made life agonizing from the start, it amounted to the same thing). It's atypical for a kid to have no history of abuse and be openly adversarial and evil with their parents/guardians. The one I knew had his parents totally bamboozled until they had no choice but to face the truth.

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    5. I have seen lesser versions of that story in enough families that it rings true for me. Even if it's not true, it's the type of thing I always feared, so it did it's job.

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    6. You don't even need a kid to be evil to have reasons to not have one. There are many inheritable disorders that are recessive and only come up when two people have a kid. Beyond anything that is considered a "disorder," you just can't pick out a child in the same way that you pick out a dog. You can't plan their personality or interests to coincide with yours at all. I have bronchitis and am an egghead, so hunting, fishing, or playing baseball with my dad were all off the table. Chester's parents had no idea what video games were, let alone that he'd be writing a blog about them. It's as if you wanted a dog and then the pet that comes home with you is a cat. It's a perfectly good cat, but you aren't going to be playing fetch with that cat.

      I'd also like to point out that possessions can be willed to friends or foundations that will take care of them, and that your kids are not guaranteed to respect your heirlooms, speaking from personal experience with my grandpa and aunt.

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    7. Without having studied the Reddit thread (they apparently block people with VPNs), I can confirm that this year alone, the German Federal Court of Harsh Justice had to decide on multiple cases where children murdered their parents or instigated their lover to do so, all for trivial reasons (usually money). You'd be surprised.

      Obviously, chances of such a thing happening are still < 1%, so it sounds a little like cognition bias, but as a facet of such a complex and life-defining decision, I can totally understand the reasoning.

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    8. Damn, people. You guys are freaking me out. I’m going to sleep with one eye open from now on. So far they haven’t attacked, but my kids are still young. Plenty of time left for them to flip out

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    9. If you believe a story you read on Reddit, I have to tell you, the word gullible is tattooed on your forehead in ink that only you can't see.

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    10. To accept every story you read on the Internet (or anywhere else) uncritically would be naive, but to reject every one of them would be equally embarassing, petulant, "nothing ever happens and I desperately need to make sure everyone knows how smart and above-it-all I am" teenage behavior. So neither is admirable or mature.

      Anyway, "believe" isn't the right word for it, since the response need hardly be a binary one: we make a probabilistic judgment that's neither 0% or 100% about the credibility of the story we're told, and then we move on.

      Since there's no doubt that the answer to the question "Do well-meaning, loving parents sometimes end up with kids who make their lives a living hell?" is "Yes", it's moot whether this particular story is factually accurate. The point is whether it resonates with someone's fears, and perhaps makes them more aware of where they stand on an issue.

      Even if it's exaggerated or total fiction, it's worth being prompted to ask ourselves what we'd do if our hypothetical kid came home, tweaked out on on meth and demanding money, and whether we're ready to commit to that possibility...or if we had to provide a lifetime of care for someone non-verbal and violent...or etc., etc., etc.

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    11. Yes, very well said. Exactly my thinking.

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    12. It must hurt being so afraid of the future all the time. Live a little.

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    13. It must hurt being so afraid of the future all the time. Live a little.

      This is decent advice as encouragement to try new things -- hanggliding, world travel, copulating while wearing a Richard Nixon mask, whatever.

      It's got nothing to do with deciding whether to have kids, though. (Which I do, by the way: they're wonderful and I feel very lucky.) 18 years of caretakership ain't "a little".

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    14. Yuck. I only use Nixon masks for what they were intended for - bank robberies.

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    15. Arguably, without the responsibilities and expenses that child-rearing involves, I've been able to do a lot more "living" than if I had made the opposite choice.

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  17. "Plot point in Ultima VII": In Japanese this practice is called "dojoyaburi", sometimes called "dojo storming" in English. Bruce Lee storms a karate dojo and destroys their sign in Fists of Fury:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzF13xO6klY

    There were rivalries between swordfighting schools in Europe, but I'm not aware of this specific element -- I suspect the Ultima VII example was influenced by the Eastern martial arts tradition, too.

    There's an item you can buy that lets you get something useful out of the demon cave, and camping in it gets you a special event as well. (Fun fact [rot13]: lbhe qnhtugre pna zneel gur Qrivy. Be orpbzr gur Qrivy.)

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    1. That fact was indeed fun. Thanks for clearing up that mystery.

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  18. Im not surprised of the high rating: Its a well designed game. It might not be what a CPRG addict is looking for in a game, but its undeniable that what the game is trying to do, its does reasonable well.
    "True" RPGs of the time are less sure for to do with the newly gained processor power and were struggling to find a story that fit the content and often settled with "more is more", instead of focussing on good stuff.

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  19. I don't know anything about Real Lives, The Sims 2, Kudos 2, or Her, but I have played Long Live the Queen. It's not an RPG. It's a visual novel.

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    1. What about Volcano Princess?

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    2. What about it? For that matter, what is it? Your comment is the first place its mentioned anywhere on this page.

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  20. May you and Irene be blessed with a child by this time next year.

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    1. You hear that, Chester? You've only got three months.

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    2. I would have specified: May you and Irene be blessed with a GOOD child (lawful-good or neutral-good).
      :-)

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    3. Although, I hope it will not happen, because it would mean the end of this blog.

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    4. At this point, it would be medically impossible. Nor do I have any siblings likely to die and will me their children. I suppose there's always the possibility of finding a bassinet on our doorstep.

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    5. You can always get a dog, Chet, and it's totally worth it, I swear :)

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    6. An angel gifting a child to the protagonist is precisely what happened in this game. Perhaps it could happen to you? ;-)

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  21. Disappointed that you only played it once, despite knowing that you left huge swaths of the game untouched, like the people in the castle or the various non-combat paths. It's one of the few games to actually reward replaying the game as opposed to just being the same game again.

    Regarding the other games in the series, I don't think any were translated into English. 3 and onward to my memory, do drop the whole fighting aspect. There are other games in the genre, but the only good ones you're liable to ever reach are the My Pet Protector series, but those are so far in the future as to be a long way off.

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    1. Over the last few years, they've all been released in English, but the translations are supposedly very poor. Coincidently, a new very of PM2 is supposed to be out globally in a few weeks!

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  22. I wonder if there are fanatic players of this game who, upon childbirth, only think "can't wait until she turns ten and I can start assigning her to farmwork to start her career"

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  23. I always come here for the JRPG/Bleak House references. My favorite Dickens!

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  24. As a millennial who has 4 kids and whose peers almost exclusively have 0 or 1, the arguments I've seen against having kids in the comments here are certainly familiar ones to me. I'm glad I chose to have kids, but I think the key is choice. It's a personal decision and what's right for me isn't right for everyone. With that in mind, I find it regrettable how often people are judged regardless of their choice: 3+ kids (too many!), 1 kid (only child!), 0 kids (you'll regret it!). Sometimes that judgement can become quite toxic. It would be nice if collectively there was more respect for any of these choices.

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    1. Sure, good point. I don't think I have any malice towards people who DO have kids, even lots of them.

      The funny thing is that I don't think I've ever gotten any pushback from people with children. I have other childless friends who do. They're always complaining about how other people keep asking them when they're going to have kids, or how other people try to tell them how much they're missing, etc. I don't think I've experienced that once. It's like everyone who knows me things, "Yeah, Chet made the right call there. It's best that he doesn't have any." Even my mother thanked me for not giving her grandchildren the last time I saw her.

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    2. Bizarrely, I'm a very-late-gen-xer (The cohort often called the Oregon Trail Generation), so my friends are a mix of gen-x and millennials, but a plurality of them have exactly three children. A handful of them are child-free, and a few only have 1, but other numbers are exceedingly rare.

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  25. Given the precarious way the planet is heading and as the Anthropocene we've cocreated is fast unravelling, I believe being childfree is the best decision I have made in a life otherwise defined by bad decisions.

    Anyway, great blog, always impressed by how well and how fast you write. The game looks very intruiging.

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  26. All decisions about how many children to have are good and valid decisions as long as they're made with deliberation. The human default for most of history has been "Actually try not to think about it or plan at all and just let things go however," which seems to lead to the worst outcomes. I can say from experience that it is a HUGE source of distress when one partner romanticizes the idea of being "surprised" by the number of children the family has.

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  27. Couldn't resist posting to say, that reddit post is fake as hell. Having effectively been a third parent in helping to raise my twin sisters, it is however indeed a 50/50 in how people grow up. Your job as a caretaker is to guide them into adulthood, but too many try to control their children. It's honestly much the same as mentoring or teaching, always guide people to the right paths but they must take the decision themselves or do wrong. Just like you once did and still do.

    That's not me trying to convince you to "get children!" but rather I cringe when people read something and more or less uses it as an excuse of sorts. That choice after all, is up to each and everyone ( and I made the decision long ago for my life to not have any because A) hate the world and B) Surgery stuff ).

    I found this blog through googling Sorcerian Occupation, and found your post about it. Thoroughly disappointed at how upnosed people were in 2011 about Anime and calling Sorcerian a lacking game. So much so my eyes rolled backwards into their sockets. That kind of upnosed mentality certainly checks out for post 2010 where people believed themselves to be fancy pancy art dealers.

    Princess Maker 2 I know the most from a hilarious Let's Play Archive that I re-read every few years for a good laugh, but I myself never played PM2 that much. When I did learn about PM4 on Nintendo DS, I did play that one through a few times, getting most of the combat endings I believe. Rather enjoyable game in it's own right. A modern spiritual sequel to this would be the game Long Live the Queen, though that game pissed me off with all it's tiny stat requirements and absolute events that must be met for certain endings and avoid death.

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