Cute Knight Kingdom


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Cute Knight Kingdom

DoraYou, there. Yes, you! You want to be a pretty princess, don't you? No, don't look so uncomfortable, we understand. Sometimes we, too, like to wear fancy dresses (pretty ones) and dream of princes (pretty ones as well). And, of course, we enjoy simulation role-playing games where we pretend to be magical pretty princesses in pretty dresses who grow up to marry pretty princes. Cute Knight Kingdom, the sequel to the original Cute Knight from Hanako Games, is a fantasy RPG sim that fits the above criteria, and then some. People who do not enjoy dress up or tea parties need not apply.

Cute Knight KingdomAs it happens, your Cute Knight du jour happens to be a Mysterious Girl. In standard fantasy RPG parlance, this means she's got a mysterious origin nobody (including herself) knows about. She finds out on her eighteenth birthday that her parents aren't really her parents at all; they discovered her outside one night as a baby, and a magical being asked them to watch over her. So she's got three years (or less, depending on your actions) to figure out what she wants to do with her life. Because, apparently, if you don't figure out your destiny before you turn twenty-one, you're basically stuck. But this is where you come in. You'll guide her throughout the world, help her find adventure, and battle dangerous beasts. Or not. Don't like fighting? Then forget about it. You can just as easily make your mark on the world through any of the classes or job opportunities you'll find everywhere.

The Kingdom part of Cute Knight Kingdom is actually fairly small, consisting of several dungeons and towns. You can move around with the [arrow] keys, or simply click on where you wish to go or who you wish to speak to. You'll find people all over who'll offer to teach you things or give you jobs based on your skills... which may open up new opportunities. When you begin a class or job, both of which take seven days to complete, you'll be given the opportunity to exert yourself, mentally or physically, to improve your performance. Perform well in the areas that interest your heroine, and you'll not only see her skills improve, but she'll remain hopeful in her dreams for the future.

Analysis: Fantasy life sims have enjoyed a small but dedicated audience for some time now. Cute Knight Kingdom doesn't really do anything terribly new to stand out from other titles, but it gets most of what it sets out to do right. The pacing of the game means it's easy to fall into the "just one more day" trap and find yourself looking blearily at the clock past three in the morning. You'll probably spend more time pursuing people and events than you will monsters, since the dungeons are, to put it gently, pretty darned boring. Fortunately, busying yourself with learning new skills and opening up new quest chains will easily take up most of your time, and with so many endings to discover, the replay value is very good.

Cute Knight KingdomThe problem is that getting all these endings takes a lot of footwork and a little luck. Most plot triggers depend on you being in the right place at the right time, or seem to just randomly occur depending on what job or class you're taking at any given time. You wouldn't think this would be much of an issue, taking into consideration how small the areas are, but it's frustrating to waste time going back and forth between areas, trying to figure out what you should be doing to advance a particular bit of dialogue or relationship, when there's frequently very little indication of how to do so.

Cute Knight Kingdom is, in many ways, a spiritual successor to Princess Maker, but without the tedious micro-managing. You don't have to worry about whether your green-haired heroine is getting enough to eat, or if she's going to run away to spite you. All you need to do is explore at your leisure, keeping an eye on her hit points and magic points, and let her sleep somewhere whenever they get too low. The rest of the time can be spent doing whatever you please. Once you start earning money, you'll find more and more possibilities open up, and more characters will have things for you to do. While not a fantasy epic, the writing for the dialogue is at least clean and well defined.

Is it worth the price tag? That all depends on you. If you like Cute Knight Kingdom's casual approach to time management and role playing, you might very well find it eating up large chunks of your time. Collecting all the endings takes some dedication, and some gamers may find the gameplay too repetitive after several plays through. And it is, after all, exceptionally girly.

Cute Knight Kingdom lives up to its name with adorable visuals and a sweetly optimistic outlook. Despite some repetitive grinding, it's still a fun and enjoyable fantasy life sim that can potentially keep you busy for days. Give the demo a try, and remember; real pretty princesses game with their pinky fingers extended, ladies.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
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Mac OS XMac OS X:
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Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.

14 Comments

With Christmas coming up I don't really have the cash on hand to get this one, but it looks like it's a sequal to the original "Cute Knight" game (where your pink-haired protagonist could look radically different from one image to the next, did anybody else that played it notice that?)

I think the thing that makes Princess Maker preferable over the "Cute Knight" series is the lenght of time you get to change your mind or add to what you would like to learn. It makes more sense that how you learned as a child would affect how you grew up, anyway. But I do like being able to combine a couple of useful skills that don't seem to mesh and come up with a different character ending.

"Cute Knight" is more of a bite-sized Princess Maker. What I'd like to know is if there are any big improvements in game play (or audio!) between "Cute Knight" and "Cute Knight Kingdom." If "Kingdom" is basically a re-hash of the first "Cute Knight," then there's no real reason to trade in pink-hair for green-hair.

One thing that I noted in both Princess Maker and in the first "Cute Knight" is that at times the action can get repeditive - I don't mean the whole "Send her to work here three times in a row" thing, I mean more like how you win the exact same prize every time you play the same game in the same holiday event. Has the new "Cute Knight Kingdom" done a better job of adding variety to some of the events or the randomly generated prizes/treasures you can find?

You should mention that this is a sequel to the original Cute Knight in the review. (I didn't find that original that fun... The demo, anyway.)

I played through the demo (I have also played through the original), and to be honest, not much looks different here. I suppose there might be more than I saw, but really, it's pretty much the same game that Cute Knight was, so I don't really see a reason to buy it. Plus, people who bought the original aren't given any sort of discount or incentive to buy the new one. (Not that it's required, but it would be nice.)

Having played the demo (which is very short, only 6 months, the original had 1 year):
The mechanics are the same as the old game. Go to this place, work, earn skills and money. Go to another place, work, earn skills and money. Pay for classes. The only thing that's different is the graphics are prettier, you can move your character around town, and there's more towns (but the jobs are pretty much the same?) If you can get armor and a weapon, you can probably explore the areas outside the towns.

The music isn't that great, in fact, I found it grating. The Wild Leather costume that you can buy in the first town is very odd. When I first put it on, I thought she wasn't wearing anything but a top, but on closer inspection, it's the typical problem of flesh-colored pants. Weird.

Oh, she added this new system of being able to burn HP or MP in order to do better at a job or school. While this is an interesting concept, it's mostly annoying because the jobs take a long time to complete, because the game is waiting for your input, which you might not always want to burn HP or MP, for minimal benefit. I'd rather just get the job animation over with.

Also, it doesn't look like she changed the story at all. If you played the first one:

It seems like she's the missing princess from another kingdom again. That was cute the first time, but dull a second.

This game feels more like an upgrade than a sequel.

The major differences are the active jobs system, the change from potions to cooking, being able to walk around and visit different locations, and a MUCH larger range of NPCs that you can speak to and plotlines that can be advanced.

In the first Cute Knight, most NPCs didn't even have names. Here everyone has names, family, backstory, and in many cases, an ending that can only be reached by getting to know them better. About a third of the endings are plotline-related rather than being purely based on the sim and your stats at the end.

Oh, and the graphics/music upgrade, although since tastes vary not everyone thinks they're an improvement. Weirdly enough some people liked the graphics in the first game! (If you hate harps, you will hate CKK's soundtrack.)

Also, about the story, that's not correct:

the character's identity is NOT a princess from another kingdom.

Eh, I get the part about NPC's being deeper. But was going deeper into that aspect really what was going to make the game better? How about more varied and more interesting adventures and dungeons? More treasure, more monsters, more events?

Is the "deeper NPC's" thing something that you guys actually got from your players' feedback, or is it something that the authors of the game just decided that that was what they wanted to work on?

Princess Maker 2 had NPC's which were unashamedly as flat as so many pieces of cardboard, but its 4 dungeons were huge and filled to the brim with interesting enemies, cool surprises and events, and were a real joy to explore even on repeated play-throughs; the game basically only had the *facade* of a girly social game, which quickly fell away to reveal a thrilling world of adventure, combat and conquest underneath. CK and CKK are, on the other hand, girly social games through and through.

Because of this PM2 won against Cute Knight, and it still wins against Cute Knight Kingdom, in my opinion.

What's this "authors" and "you guys" stuff? I'm just one girl, you know? :)

And yes, there were players who wanted to drop the RPG aspect completely, as the actual Princess Maker series did. But that's not what I wanted to do with the Cute Knight series. It's important to me that in these games you can involve yourself in building relationships, or you can fight monsters and build your way up to being able to tackle the nasty endboss, or you can wear frilly dresses and learn to cook and paint, or you can mix and match... and these are all valid choices.

I like RPGs, I play RPGs, I sometimes write pure RPGs. Same for dating sims. But Cute Knight isn't either of those things, it's about having options and pursuing what makes you happy, whether that's being a paladin or a housewife.

CKK has four dungeons plus the overworld, and a number of secret encounters. There are treasures. There is a crafting system (two different ones really). Dungeon-crawling is the most profitable job and is required for a number of the endings. It's not like the RPG elements aren't there.

As for the changes to the RPG system, spellcasting now makes much more sense since you can choose the right spell for the right monster instead of having to guess ahead of time what monster you might encounter. Also, you can't bribe your way out of sin anymore, so you have to be careful about killing feeling creatures if you don't want to turn out rotten. Damaging a creature makes it much easier to scare it off and win the battle, but you could accidentally hit it too hard...

I love PM2, it's a great game, and I'm certainly not saying you have to like this better than that. And I am a girl, so it's not surprising that I make games that are girly. I just think your specific protests tend to ring hollow - I suspect the truth is you just gut prefer PM2. :)

"I get the part about NPC's being deeper. But was going deeper into that aspect really what was going to make the game better?"

Depending on the player, yes. Yes it was. :p

I think you should think about including a picture editor/character editor in the next one, unless its just not in the demo, but I can't believe a review would skip something like that.
Something about the new girl's face just bugs me. I've stuck with the old cute knight just because I don't like playing the new girl.
For social interaction I've gone with spirited heart while for dungeon trawling I go pm2 and for fast plays I go for the original CK. I just can't get over her looks, which would be alright if she were an NPC, buuut...
Congrats on the improvements though.

Alternatively, you could also just include an option next time (or in an update to this) to import the character graphics and ending pictures from the old one for the main character. I'm not sure how much you changed it internally though so that might be pretty rough.

Will this game be available on bigfish or the other casual gaming sites at any point? I played Cute Knight (and paid full price for it, and then again when the Deluxe version came out) but I had a bit of a 'eep!' at the price for this sequel.

For the record, I really enjoy the way Cute Knight lets you choose your path so freely. I've played through it several times, and ended up as everything from a socialite to a librarian to a queen to an evil sorceress to what was, essentially, Xena the Warrior Princess. For some games, I've aimed to create a tough, combative woman, and for others, I've chosen more domestic, social, political, or crafting-related goals.

In my opinion, the vast variety is what makes this game so fun. If I want a thrilling dungeon crawl, there are heaps of other games to choose from, but nothing else is quite so sandbox as this. I want to eventually collect all the endings, good and bad.

Honestly, the only way to "lose" is to lose confidence and stop reaching for what makes your current character happy...and I like that concept very much. Isn't that the grand goal of feminism in the end, after all? To make sure all women (and men) can become whatever they most want to be, unimpeded and unharassed by implications that they're being "too girly" or "too manly"? :)

I unashamedly loved the original Cute Knight, but I admit haven't picked this one up yet (or Spirited Heart which also looks great) because will all the amazing indie games out there the $20 price tag does seem a bit steep in comparison to most of them. Some sort of discount for people who've already bought the original would be wonderful. (same goes for the Aveyond series which sorely needs a package deal...)

And after playing the demo I also have to agree for the person that found the character portrait distracting, I vastly prefer the girl from Cute Knight even though the art in Kingdom is better overall. (The new one looks like she has Downs Syndrome or something. There I said it.) Though I do get that simply letting the player replace a character portrait with one of their own or having alternates available is not as simple as it seems, as it would then be kind of jarring when the ending art wouldn't match up at all...

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