Developer Ming Yee Iu brings us Princess Baker Palace, an endearing puzzle title that comes off as a cute rendition of BioShock’s hacking mini-game which in turn pays homage to the Nintendo Entertainment System’s Pipe Dream title. The Princess wants to show the people of Snackelot that kitchen equipment can produce food just as well as or better than the archaic use of the magical Cupcake Crystals or delving the Muffin Mines. With your help, the Princess might yet win over the good people of Snackelot as she dashes about her busy bakery in order to earn her place at the Royal Ball.
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In Princess Baker Palace, there’s lots of room for expansion, and you’ll eventually need it. Each piece of equipment is placed upon one of the many tiles on the approximately 100×100 gridded bakery floor. Recipes are simple at first, calling for no more than, initially, a frozen biscuit dispenser, an oven, a delivery box, and maybe some conveyor belts to connect them all. As the Princess’ treats become more popular around the land, however, she’ll have to expand in order to keep up with all of her contracts. That’s where the challenge comes into play.
As the Princess’ productivity soars, you’ll take on more and more contracts. You will find different contracts that can be accepted; fresh contracts will be white, while completed ones will be green. After accepting a contract, the Princess must get to work filling the particular order, which appears in the bottom right of the screen in terms of the needed items, the quantity of said items, and the time allotted to completing the order. Completion of each contract will net the Princess a bit of gold, and occasionally an item you can use to personalize the character.
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This may sound as easy as pie, and to a degree, it is. While placing tools like Ovens, Conveyor Belts, and Mixers will cost gold, removing them completely refunds the invested amount. This allows for limitless reconfiguration of the entire bakery floor, with only your time truly spent. Players can even view contracts ahead of time, check recipes, place the proper equipment, and finally accept the timed contract! While there is an inherent challenge in learning where to place your devices, the only real difficulty players will encounter is when the devices wear down and break, requiring the Princess to fix them for free after following the red arrows that point to the item in question. Pressing X on an operable machine will perform maintenance that extends the lifespan of the machine, which is indicated by a horizontal bar when the Princess is standing on the appropriate tile. If that’s still too trying, simply press Start to bring up the menu, where this mode (Normal difficulty) can be toggled to Easy, negating the breakdowns.
The singular difficulty, then, involves the orientation of item placement in the Princess’ bakery. For instance, Bread is made with Flour, Yeast, and Sugar, which requires Dispensers. Dispensers will pass items to the right, and will need Conveyor Belts of the appropriate orientation in order to carry the ingredients to a Mixer, which combines items from above, left, and below, then sends them to the right. Once mixed, the Dough must travel from left to right in order to be carried to the Oven, which bakes items taken from the left and sends them to the right, where hopefully your Box is waiting for the finished Bread. If any mistakes are made along the way, a red dot will appear in the top right corner of the problematic tile. Standing here, simply press Y to remove a device (or again to undo a recent mistake), press B to clear the ingredients, then step back and watch the bakery in action. If this is too slow for you, hold the Left Trigger to speed up the process.
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The fairly easy difficulty may dissuade potential buyers from spending their 240 :MSPoints:, and the art style may not win them over either. Princess Baker Palace is not an ugly game, but the simple illustrations of the baking process and the Princess herself, paired with a delicate lute-plucking medieval background melody is not the fairest in the land. The sounds and music can be adjusted with a slider, and the Princess herself can change her appearance. Items like new hats and dresses acquired through contract completion can be switched freely with a quick visit to the Start menu. Once the Princess receives her simple makeover, it’s back to work she goes for the ever-hungry people of Snackelot.
Princess Baker Palace is not a difficult game, nor is it a complex piece of art. It is, however, a simple game that built from tried-and-true elements not often explored in today’s gaming world. The controls and presentation are straightforward, there are collectables to be earned, and there’s even a bit of whimsical flavor text found in the contract write-ups. If you’re looking for a break from the common games that flood the market with excessive complexity and violence, then you just might find your happily ever after in Princess Baker Palace.
More information on Princess Baker Palace as well as the trial and full versions of the game can be found on the Marketplace.
Review by Iggypu.