Title: Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town
Genre: Role-Playing, Simulation
Released: July 2020
Overall Score: 8/10
Feeling stressed out? Competitive games got you tilted? Well, get ready to be whisked away into a charming and peaceful farming life filled with adorable animals, helpful sprites, and lovable familiar townspeople. Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is a blast from the past full of nostalgia.
A remake of the favourite Nintendo 2003 Gameboy Advance classic Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town, Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town gives long time veterans a chance to relive their iconic childhood gaming days. Upgraded with all the bells and whistles of modern technology, newcomers to the franchise get a chance to play one of the fan favourites, and what some consider the holy grail of this long time series.
Your story starts upon inheriting your late grandpa’s farm, a classic introduction for the farming simulator series. Sporting a new visual update with 3D graphics and a refreshed chibi art style that pays homage to the original game style (in comparison to the franchises past few releases), this remaster clearly tries to stay as close to the original series as possible…and succeeds.
Focusing on using technological advancements to enhance the game and the players experience instead of changing it, Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town may feel more basic in gameplay with a significant lack of customization compared to their recent games (Story of Seasons, and Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns). The missed opportunities to add more customizations is why I rated this game an 8/10, but for those who aren’t fanatical about cosmetics like I am, it shouldn’t be a major issue. That being said, the game does feel noticeably more difficult even on the easier mode, as there is less hand holding and the tutorial phase is practically non-existent.
You will find that you stumble upon a lot of this game’s hidden features and achievements by accident or randomly unless you have a guide, so be prepared to do some research or dedicate a good chunk of time in order to complete achievements and make significant progress.
Bright new town
Pixels in 2003 to new puffed up 3D visuals, the graphics are stunning without compromising any of the game’s original charm. From cherry blossom trees to autumn crisp leaves, the upgraded visuals really bring a story and atmosphere to the game’s seasons, each one having its own pallet of vibrant colours and details. The new style incorporates more details to objects, buildings, and NPCs, creating a colourful environment that is easy on the eyes and fun to interact with.
The graphics are the series’ overall best, a bit cuter than the recent Story of Season games which dedicated a lot of effort to character avatar details, but far better in resolution and clarity. Everything is sharp and colourful while still maintaining the cute anime-like look that everyone loves about the farming game.
It’s love at first chicken! Get ready to pet adorably round cows, fluffier than life sheep, and eggstra round chickens that will win over all types of players. Your very own character and NPCs got the cute makeover as well, even old Mayor Thomas will catch your eye.
via XSEED games
What farm life has in store!
So, you made it to your grandpa’s farm and talked to Mayor Thomas, now what? Most farming simulator games would greet you with a long introduction story and basic tutorials of gameplay you already know, but Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town lets you live farm life your way. No tedious training wheels.
For beginners there is an easy mode and most tutorial features can be found in your house bookshelf or the town library, but other than that you are on your own. After a quaint introduction to the town from Mayor Thomas, players can jump right into the action either tilling the land, planting seeds or exploring the nearby cave (an old feature that was absent in newer games but is an all time favourite of mine) which encourages you to find your own rhythm.
Furthermore, the game doesn’t punish you for changing your focus, it may take a little longer to get the results you want, but very few features are permanently locked away or lost. That being said, if you’re the type of person who loves to go for the hidden marriage candidates or special recipes, you might want to consult your good old friend google to get a head start.
Whether you like to play video games in short bursts or binge hours of the game at once (I’m a binger and can’t get enough of those cute round chickens!) one of the best new additions to the game is being able to choose your gameplay mode.
Simple mode is for those who want a laid-back game experience where you can enjoy building up your farm instead of having to grind the first year. In simple mode you’re greeted at your farm with crops ready to harvest and a good chunk of money to help get you started.
For veteran players looking for more of a challenge, normal mode has you covered. Compared to simple mode, normal mode starts you off with nothing and makes befriending villagers and sprites a bit more difficult (yes, our helpful little buddies are back, so better stock up on flour!).
It doesn’t matter if you’re the slow laid-back farmer or the type of player who is quick to build up your crop empire, you will enjoy unlocking the new features and watching the seasons pass by as your farm expands and progresses. Even better yet, the game isn’t linked to the real world, so no worries or stress about losing friendships or missing days if you have a busy lifestyle (Animal Crossing, I’m looking at you).
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When chores are done….
You’ve got sprites watering your crops, you’ve already tended to your animals, and it’s only noon. What are you going to do with the rest of your day?! Don’t let the laid-back farm lifestyle fool you, Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town comes packed with tons of extra activities to explore when chores on the farm are done.
The game spices up your daily routine with unexpected character cutscenes that give you a glimpse into the NPCs personalities and their relationships with each other. As the seasons progress the game will also welcome new characters returning to the town providing new dialogue amongst the people.
You’ll also have a chance to interact with your neighbours at town festivals that happen at least once a month giving players the option to break out of the day-to-day farm loop and enjoy some minigames. If you’re more of the explorer type, try checking out the nearby mine with hundreds of floors to discover or uncover secrets around the map as seasons change (Pssst, check out the lake by Jennifer’s tent in the winter. You’re welcome.).
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New features, classic Story of Seasons
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is an example of how even older games with a few adjustments to mechanics and graphics can stand the test of time. Remastering the 2003 game and improving from the Doraemon Story of Seasons this Story of Seasons game is everything fans new and old could have asked for.
The game brings the classic marriage system to modern times by allowing same sex marriages and removing the awkward ‘best friend’ title. This new change brings more partner options to players and creates new romantic events for players to explore. Sorry boys, looks like none of you will be receiving a proposal from me this game, I mean have you seen how cute Potpourri is?
Townspeople, chickens and sheep aren’t the only things you’ll think are cute about this game, Story of Seasons includes new animals and pets as well. From bunnies, alpacas, three types of cows (fruit, coffee, and strawberry) to penguins and capybaras players will be excited to welcome new furry friends to their farm.
Updates to the game don’t stop at new animals and NPC’s though, the biggest innovation that make the gameplay a lot smoother is the quality of life updates. No more guessing where crops are being placed. Now an indicator shows where tools will strike or where seeds will be planted allowing players to be precise with their actions.
The updates to quality of life also brought with it easier backpack management as items now stack and can be moved around to suit players’ preferences. With all these new features players can thoroughly enjoy Story of Seasons with all the features Switch has to offer.
via XSEED games
via XSEED games
Story of Season: Friends of Mineral Town is a hit that veteran and new Story of Season players alike will want to curl up and relax with. The creators took a classic Harvest Moon fan favourite game and brought it into modern times with stunning new graphics and added gameplay features that refresh a nostalgic title and breathes life into it again.
The only reasons this game didn’t get a perfect score from me: I wanted to see more interactive elements at the town festivals and a bit more customization, and in the first year players can’t participate in most festivals and must wait until they’ve upgraded their farm more.
Overall, this Story of Season game doesn’t disappoint. It offers classic adorable anime style animals and easy-to-love characters. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself saying, “Just one more farm day,” until you’re hours deep into this whimsical country tale!