Published on July 14th, 2020 | by MinimalCat
REVIEW – Story Of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town
The original Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons game released on the Playstation (1999), and again on Gameboy Advance (2003), but now one of the most beloved farming simulators of all time has finally been rebuilt from the ground up on Nintendo Switch and PC! Are you as excited as I am?
Important Note: In 2014 Natsume kept the Harvest Moon brand name, and the original developers at Marvelous released their own games under the Story of Seasons name instead. So when people say “Harvest Moon sucks now” I reply with “Story of Seasons is better, trust me”.
Concept/Story: As a kid, your family can’t go on vacation, so they send you to your grandpa’s farm to spend the summer there instead. After the best summer ever and 20 years later, you inherit the farm after your grandfather has passed away and you decide to leave the city life to fix up grandpa’s ol’ farm!
The game is completely open-ended, and the only thing that will trigger credits to roll is getting married, but you can still continue to grow your farm for 100’s of hours after that. You buy different vegetables depending on the season, and farm loads of cute animals (not for meat).
Things that are new:
- Character art completely updated
- New player character models to choose from (+1 boy and +1 girl)
- First time Friends of Mineral Town has been fully 3D
- Coffee/Strawberry/Yellow Fruit Milk Cows
- Brandon (bachelor resident to woo)
- Jennifer (bachelorette resident to woo)
- Option to finally woo same-gendered characters (Also known as being “best friends” in Japan)
Graphics: Unlike the first Story of Seasons game on Nintendo Switch (Doraemon), Friends of Mineral Town goes for a classic chibi anime mixed with 3D style, so it looks much better than any mobile game or indie imitation you’ll find on console.
Let’s be clear: this is the best looking Story of Seasons game EVER. Whether I was playing on my massive 85 inch TV, or in handheld mode on the Switch itself – the colours are bright, everything’s crystal clear and easy to see, no jagged edges or frame rate issues – it’s just gorgeous.
The updated anime-style character art is very expressive when characters interact with you as well.
Gameplay: You can choose between two modes when playing the game.
- Start with a lot of gold
- Items sell for a little more gold
- Easier to raise affection with people
- Start with 18 Turnips in the field
- None of the features from Simple mode that make the game easier
- Offers a satisfying challenge
It’s nice to have the option for gamers both young and old within a single title but like most farming games it can still be difficult to get into if you’ve never played one before and I always find myself looking at the original “Wiki Guides” online for help with finding my next thing. There’ s festivals to attend, friends to make, two caves to mine, fish to catch, and your stamina to keep an eye on every day.
The interface has also been tweaked to include how much affection each character holds for you (number of hearts) while still keeping the original scheme (colour of hearts) – it’s a small change that’s both faithful to the original, and easier to understand where you’re up to in the game.
Sound: Each Story of Seasons game has always had its own distinctive soundtrack, and this one is no different – with tunes that are easy to hum along to and change with the seasons and weather. While I (MinimalCat) was playing in docked mode with Snrub, I caught him humming along to the tunes on more than one occasion so it definitely passes the “catchy and not annoying” music test, and he didn’t complain about any of the sounds the characters made this time.
I’m glad I didn’t need to play with my headphones on in shame.
My only minor complaint and I’m not sure why – but when it rains in the game there’s no ambient sound at all (no music or rain!)
Awesomeness: The new cows. I was so excited to get my first Strawberry Cow that produced strawberry milk I spent ages trying to come up with a good name for her in 8 characters or less (the struggle is real, sorry “Pinky”).
Also, and I can’t say this loudly enough THERE ARE ALPACAS WITH WOOLY AFROS THAT YOU NEED TO SHEER. OH. MY. GOSH. They’re beautiful.
Final Word: I’m a huge fan of the Story of Seasons games developed by Marvelous (and games like Stardew Valley (2016) that took heavy inspiration from them. Because this one is based on the original, there’s not as many ways to customise your character or your farm as other newer games but there’s so much nostalgia for fans of the series, and this is definitely the perfect Farming Sim to start off with even if you’ve never played one before. I’ve already spent over 35 hours with this version – and I guarantee there will be many more hours to come. Pinky and Kuzco need more friends.
Out of 5 Bugs!