Princess Farmer is possibly the cutest and most adorable match 3 style puzzle game I’ve played. It features cute bunnies dying hair, throwing glitter and digging vegetables for Mother Gaia. It has sass, more blushing than a rom-com anime and some lovely open ended relationship building in the story. This will be music to some gamer bunny ears and marmite to others. The match 3 mechanics are sound for every gamer though.
You are tasked to match 3 vegetables of the same type in horizontal, vertical or diagonal lines. You do this by sliding the columns of veggies up and down. Initially this feels like spinning slot machine wheels around to match symbols. Princess Farmer can hold a stack of up to 5 veggies before its too heavy and she needs to plant them back down into other columns. The fundamental end goal for scoring never changes and its easy to pick up and cause combo madness as chains of removed veggies cause more matches. As the game progresses more veggie options are included making the swing from luck to skill more apparent.
Whilst the game mechanic stays the same, Princess Farmer goes out of its way to constantly change everything else around it. Each puzzle is given a few screens of dialogue (with choices) before you dive in and the story is broken up into 9 chapters. Before starting each chapter you can decide on a play style. Action bunny gives you plenty of time trial based high score based events. Match 50 potatoes as quickly as possible. Those kinds of challenges. Puzzle bunny removes the reaction based gameplay for limited move options. Here you can take your time but every move matters. Score as much as possible within 30 moves for example. Balanced gives you both options and its great to be able to choose your way to play.
Each puzzle has a slightly different layout too. Long thin trenches mean you’ll be stacking veggies on Princess Farmer much more than wider trenches. Some levels have bonus or danger areas that move around for you to target or avoid matches in. Other levels ban certain types of matches. Layers of dirt cover and hide rows of veggies so you have to memorise what is underneath. There is also a great Vs mode against the AI where you race to fulfil different veggie quotas. An alternative “storm” mode sees you build a combo to send a storm cloud to your opponent to then flood rows of vegetables and take them out of play until their patch is no more. The variety is fantastic.
It’s an odd choice then that its all single player or two player co-op. The versus mode isn’t available to enjoy as a competitive element and it seems such a strange omission, even when the game is all about being cute and caring. Whilst the 9 chapters (framed as cutely retro VHS tapes of a children’s tv show) offer a good 4-5 hours of gameplay, the Vs mode would have elevated a good game to a great one. The music is a great selection of lo-fi beats to chill to and the artwork took me a bit of time to get used to but I liked it in the end. There is an odd problem with the scoreboard font though – specifically the number 4. It looks very squashed. I found the font tricky to read generally but the great accessibility options can help you out there, with text font, colour and flash effects all able to be turned on or off.
Story wise, the overarching story is nice enough but its the cute characters that sell it. Princess Farmer breaks up its visual novel style story into small chunks between each puzzle so its easily digestible. Every few screens is a dialogue choice that alters your friendship with the other characters and those relationships are summarised when you go to sleep at the end of each episode. A mixture of options from sassy, cutesy, excited or innocent flirting are available and yes, you can flirt with literally everyone. It is well written and well integrated into the game.
Princess Farmer is a good match 3 game. Its strength lies in its ability to add variances to the initial simple formula and allowing you to play how you want to play. Some longevity with multiplayer modes would have been nice by what’s here is a glitter bomb of cute puzzle fun.
Review copy provided by publisher.
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