2020 just keeps bringing us more and more on the gaming front, across all platforms and genres. Lately, I’ve also found that the Switch releases are absolutely killing it! That brings us on to the main event: Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is a remake of Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town (GBA, 2003). This new iteration of Harvest Moon comes to us direct from Marvelous Inc, the same developers who have brought us earlier Harvest Moon games.
Originally, Harvest Moon was published under Natsume, who retained rights to the name. Marvelous subsidiary Xseed took over North American distribution, which led to the series being brought forward under new name Story of Seasons. Yet another experience to keep me practically glued to my Switch 90% of the time. Chilling at night? Probably playing FOMT. Guests around, making me needed in the kitchen? FOMT is coming for the journey. Enough of my attachment issues, let’s get into this!
In its most basic form, Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is a cutesy farming simulator in a pretty town. Again, that’s just the most basic form. Welcome to Mineral Town, a gorgeous little village surrounded by nature. The story begins with the player taking over their grandfather’s farm. Upon arrival, the farm leaves much to be desired. However, from the get-go, there is promise and hope that the farm can be restored to its former glory.
Yes, this is the general gist of many games of this vein. Inherit or move to a dilapidated farm, bring it back to life. What truly separates Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town from the rest is the reinvention of a well-loved classic, with more modern design. Play as a male or female, with frankly adorable appearances. Honestly, all of the characters are completely adorable. It is insanely cutesy. Buy, raise and sell animals. Tend and grow crops. Befriend your neighbours and maybe even find your other half! I am a sucker for all of the above.
The Farming Life
I don’t know about you guys, but in real life, I would not be able for farm work. I have some farming friends, and I don’t know how they do it. Major respect. In a digital landscape though, yes, please. There are two ways to go about starting the game. The first mode starts you off with a small crop ready to sell. This is basically a head-start into the world, giving players a means to immediately earn money and start growing more. The other mode is pretty much a clean state- just you and your tools. Personally, I think the modes are more about preference than difficulty levels. Without a doubt, a little head start is helpful. However, it all depends on how you want to play the game overall.
I chose to go with the little head start. I’ve played old Harvest Moon games, I’ve played Stardew Valley, and I’ve even played Graveyard Keeper. I love this whole style of game, but the second I was offered a nice start, I took it. This is the kind of game that I pick up to relax with, nice and easy-going. I used my first crop profits plus extra to buy an alpaca. His name is Ali, and he is fluffy. I also got an Angora rabbit I called Cora. I REALLY want a puppy. The animal design in this game is honestly so wonderful.
Something really neat about Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is how instead of months, it’s just seasons. 4 seasons, worked like months. These do come with their ups and downs, same as seasons in the real world. Changing seasons is also where I have made some very silly mistakes while playing. Each season (except winter) has crops you can grow, and crops you can’t grow.
For example, turnips are a Spring crop. I lost multiple turnip crops from planting them right at the end of Spring. Although they were planted in Spring, with the change of seasons, bye-bye crop! Once the next season hits, if you were growing crops exclusive to the former, make sure you have them all harvested before the start of the new season. Crop profits tend to be pretty great, so missing out on them can be pretty unfun. Farmers beware!
Some final thoughts
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town was a game I didn’t know how badly I needed until I actually got my hands on it. After seeing trailers, it automatically hit my wishlist. I couldn’t believe it when I got the text to say I was gonna be reviewing it. It was a massive holy heck moment for me. Instant install and as soon as it was ready, I was there. I got lost in this game from the first moment I hit play. Honestly, I couldn’t ask for a better chill gaming experience.
Here’s the thing, like with all games of this style, the gameplay is repetitive. You’re pretty much doing chores in-game. There are people like me, who will really enjoy this. It’s like a nice, solid routine. Time does work differently, unlike games like Animal Crossing that work in real-time, but it is something that works really well. There’s also a fun grind involved, between raising animals, tending crops, and harvesting materials. However, if you don’t like this kind of grind, this game will not be for you. If you prefer level grinding, you may need to look elsewhere.
Again, we’re talking about personal preferences. My personal preferences have me totally in love with this game. I don’t like having to grind for levels obsessively. It’s not very satisfying for me. But raising animals, growing crops and harvesting materials? Yes, please! Players can go on to make more out of these aspects. Sure, it’s fun to level up and destroy a boss. I am an absolute fiend for level grinding in Pokémon. But I would rather create something more. I honestly love everything about Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town.
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