Princess Maker 4 Alpha Screenshots

Last updated: 2024-02-10
Original source: Namu Wiki

From August 21, 2000 to the winter of that year, a series of screenshots were shared with Korean video game media showing off Princess Maker 4 while it was in development.

The copies presented here originally came from the Namu Wiki under the CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 KR license. Its home page declares that any and all content is unverified, biased, and could be incorrect. All claims made there are to be taken with a grain of salt, backed by alternative sources for context here where possible.

Game Heaven showed a lone screenshot of the main character in a maid costume in front of a photographed background, with a very early version of the game's user interface. It looks reasonably polished, allowing the art to speak for itself.

This leans on a style that contemporary Ninelives games like Dennou Quizdom and Princess Maker Q were fond of. Here the backgrounds are clearly photoshopped photographs, with digitally painted illustrations inserted in front and sometimes within the scene itself.

Karen is given the name of "Karen Igarashi" (五十嵐) in this early demonstration of a fantasy-inspired UI. There appears to be a skill system present along with the previous series tradition of making bars with numbers go up (or down!).

After these two previews, later screenshots would surface with a more poppy nineties look; bright colors, garish game UI, and a casual, bubblegum pink, cuter feeling to the game itself.

It's hard to pin down when those later screenshots were first shown. The original source for many of these was the Korean website Gameshot.net, which appears not to have held on to its oldest articles reaching back to the naughties. To date, the earliest Princess Maker content found on Gameshot.net only goes as far back as CFK's Steam port of Princess Maker 5 in 2018.

In absence of primary sources, Korean news aggregator Danawa claimed in 2007 that the Gameshot.net screenshots came from the winter that followed in 2000. That statement is consistent with print magazine previews from PC Champ in February 2001.

Cube begins the game addressing Karen in faithful dog form, politely requesting that she take care of him until she graduates from high school.

He never appeared as his more familiar demon self in the preview screenshots, though the 1999 doujin had constantly teased an appearance based on his Princess Maker 2 self.

Karen is now the cheerful "Karen Daidouji" (大道寺). Her range of stats and skills are nearly the same as before, with only one new attribute, "affection" (愛情).

The main game display is pink, with other tabs representing different modes to make changes to Karen's curriculum.

After school activities get their own presentation, emphasizing more variety in the scheduling through recurring, weekly or monthly activities.

Part time job selection is nearly identical, emphasizing a mix of both.

Karen, being a modern school girl, does not have to choose between having a job and learning like her predecessors!

Rounding out the in-game UI, a higher level view reminds the player to check off all of her activities and stats. It shares the same "spreadsheet" form as the last two tabs with Cube the dog watching over the player's hopefully well-meaning choices.

Karen's room breaks out of the mass of drab-looking spreadsheets with a more inviting look, with options for costumes, treasures and makeup.

This one display did carry forward to Princess Maker 5, though in PM5 it was changed to a location to show off collectables rather than an apparently elaborate means to dress up the daughter.

The shops screen has its own tab as well. Like many of the other tabs, it appears to have been smacked by the Microsoft Excel bat.

Here the bakery of past games has been replaced with 7-Eleven stand in "A-Mart".

A class introduction scene is shown for what's assumed to be Karen's first day at school.

All of the art should look familiar to folks who have seen the three 2000 and 2001 "secret preview" doujin printed by Takami Akai to promote the game. Much of the art shown in these screenshots was sourced from digitally colored versions of the sketches found within the secret preview doujin and the Takami Akai Ninelives year in review books from those same years.

The school and teacher are shown to be fixtures for many of the game's school activities.

Curiously there's a total absence of fantasy elements in these preview screen shots, relative to the 1999 preview doujin and the first pair of screenshots.

This breakfast scene was first shown in the apology for the lack of a playable demo in Ninelives' booth for the 2000 Tokyo Character Show. It's speculated that the morning routine would be a moment of easy stat growth, like giving your child spending money to explore the town in past games.

Meanwhile, an excess of work would lead to stress, driving Karen to be bedridden with sickness. A bit of a change from being a stealing delinquent like Olive in Princess Maker 2. Personally, I feel like Olive had a little more spirit than Karen as a mischief maker.

Each weekend would allow for specially planned time off with Karen and Cube. This art of a picnic under cherry blossoms had also been shown off in the Ninelives 2000 Takami Akai year in review book.

Weekend planning would start with a prompt on the day asking the player what they wanted to do with the daughter.

Taking dog Cube out for a walk stands in for having Cube follow a potentially delinquent daughter around town. Here it's framed as a more positive activity, raising the often-elusive sensitivity stat that the daughter needs to have High Class chats.

Other vacation-replacing activities include taking your daughter out to a baseball game. Ideal if you want her to grow up as a softball player, perhaps even an Olympic athlete!

Back at school, rivals for the daughter will happily make themselves known. With boundless pride, Emily flexes in front of Karen.

Said flexing drives up Karen's stress level. At this point in the game she's not quite the confrontational type.

Emily would later show up as Emily Imagawa in Princess Maker 5, acting as the first friend the princess of that game meets.

Karen would be regularly weighed and measured by the school doctor under the teacher's watchful eye. Anybody who has played through a Princess Maker knows how rough these games can be about having your princess at a conventionally normal weight.

School lunches can present an opportunity for positive encounters. Nothing makes stress go down more than the warmth of a tasty, well packed bento. Nothing that is, besides taking a day off from school. Who knew warrior dad could be such a chef.

P.E. class can be a drag. Karen has a little trouble with volleyball.

Like the PlayStation Princess Maker "Faery Tales Come True", job success and failure is presented through digitally colored lined drawings instead of Princess Maker 2's animated sprite-based art.

Eventually, Karen gets the hang of gym class.

Unlike lessons in Princess Maker 2. after school club activities have failure and success states just like jobs do! Fumbling soccer, Karen shows a little dismay.

Singing turns out to be a bit of a struggle. That girl on the right appears to be another design that was used for Princess Maker 5 many years later.

Farming, a staple of Princess Makers past, also starts out being a bit of a challenge. Fortunately Karen isn't the only small girl stuck doing farm work alone.

If there's one thing Karen can do well, it's running! She did a lot of it in Princess Maker Q, and she's hoofing it here too.

This is the one and only screenshot of Karen succeeding at a club activity. She's got a solid smug anime girl smile to show it.