Familiar faces and nostalgic gameplay revitalized with a few minor quality of life upgrades and a fresh coat of paint. Find out what we thought of the reimagined vision of the DS classic as a fresh breath of air on Nintendo Switch.
+The addition of the energy meter to the game makes it much easier to track how much more work you can do, rather than relying on the color of your character’s face in the original release.
+The challenge prevalent in many older titles, which to some degree has lessened by how many new facilities and types of goods you can produce in later entries, is still here
+The game is still as time-devouring as ever, making it extremely easy to fall into the loop of tending to crops, caring for livestock, and interacting with the townspeople.
-While an incredibly faithful remake of the original entry, its age shows greatly
-Upgrades to the farmstead require a healthy supply of stone and lumber in addition to money, unfortunately, the ability to obtain both stone and lumber relies heavily on how financially successful you are.
For those who may not know, Story of Seasons isn’t a spiritual successor to the Harvest Moon series, rather it is the original team behind the Harvest Moon titles of old. Following a split with their North American publisher Natsume back in 2013, Natsume retained the Harvest Moon title.
Following this departure from Natsume, the name was changed to the Story of Seasons. This is only the case for Western releases however, as the name in Japan has never changed. The original entry in this franchise was released on the Super Famicom in Japan back in 1996, being ported to North America on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1997.
The developer of this title was a studio called Amccus, after this single game the series was taken over by Victor Interactive Software. Victor Interactive Software was eventually acquired by Marvelous Entertainment in 2003, where the series has remained since.
Returning to Mineral Town
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is a 3D remake of the original GameBoy Advance title Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town and Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town.
Those two titles are essentially the same, the only major difference being that in Friends you take control of a male character while in More Friends you play as a female character. Story of Seasons saw fit to combine those two versions into a single title, giving the player the option to choose from two base models for either male or female.
This title also presents players with another choice: Difficulty. In Simple difficulty, you start with turnips already planted in the field and a good deal of gold on your person. You’ll be able to sell crops and goods for a larger sum, and raising your relationships with the townsfolk will prove easier too.
Normal mode offers none of these advantages, it is as close to the original experience as this remake can provide. The game features a new art style with updated portraits and sprites for the various characters you can encounter. Beyond these changes, there are a few notable additions to the game.
Most noteworthy is the ability to enter same-sex relationships, titled Best Friends in Japan, in the west the decision was made to change it simply to Marriage. While some may be displeased with the decision to make this change or include such a system in the first place, I’m rather pleased by the inclusiveness. Another change, though only seen to a minor degree, is a change in the layout of a handful of areas in the game.
While this won’t be anything newer players will be able to discern, the locations and scale of various parts of the farm have been changed. Additionally, certain characters have received a name change. While not anything major, it’s still worth noting. Players will also find their save slots have expanded from the original two to a total of eight. The last difference from the original to touch on is the inclusion of new holidays and events within the game itself.
Tilling and Toiling in Mineral Town
How does the game itself handle though? In so many words, it’s Harvest Moon. You engage in that old cycle of tilling your field, clearing it of debris, planting, and watering your crops. Tending to livestock, harvesting crops, gathering eggs. Then you can leave to interact with the other characters.
Forge friendships and find romance before diving into the mine. The money you get from selling crops and resources from clearing your farm is used to upgrade your home, though eventually the stones and stumps will provide insufficient resources. The loop of gameplay is as it was with the original release.
To a certain degree, this proves to make the experience quaint. It strips away many of the new features in a title as recent as 2015’s Story of Seasons. Whereas in Story of Seasons there are a great deal of products that can be made, Friends of Mineral Town restricts you to only a few categories. It serves to be an excellent example of how far the series has come, and where it has come from. This in itself doesn’t make the experience boring, or dull, it’s just as easy to lose track of time in this simplified loop. However, it does at times feel lacking.
I’ve always felt part of the charm was the monotony, the mundane. The habits we form at the start of the game, in which order we take care of our daily tasks. Do we aim for the most cost-effective plants, those that bear crops multiple times, or those that don’t demand as much dedication so we may indulge in other activities across the various days. This is part of the attraction to Story of Seasons and games in the same vein. It’s the structure that can bring us relaxation instead of overstimulation. In a word, for all of its flaws and features, it’s endearing.
Are there any complaints about the Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town?
As much as I have enjoyed my time with this game thus far, I do have a few petty gripes. First and foremost, despite the fresh graphics, the game, unfortunately, does feel a bit dated. The series as a whole features minor upgrades with each entry to expand on the options available to a player.
My only other complaint is something I’ve stated a few times now is how heavily the game relies on materials like stone and lumber and their relative scarcity. While on a whole this isn’t a large problem, upgrades to your farmstead can already cost in the tens of thousands of gold.
To then need to spend an additional tens of thousands on the raw materials, rather than spending several in game years, is a bit taxing. Beyond this, as a whole the entire game just feels old. It doesn’t hold up quite as well with new games within its own series. It was a fun little romp among the fields going through memories from when I was a child, one which I’m sure to spend more time on.
Time To Hang Up The Tools – The Conclusion
To sum up everything, I see flaws in this game. Maybe they weren’t so obvious to me back when I was a child experiencing this for the first time, but that was some sixteen years ago when the standards were lesser.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Steam
Version Reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Marvelous Interactive
Publisher: XSEED Games
Release Date: Now Available
Despite all my hemming and hawing when it comes to this game, it takes me back through my memories to a time when things were easier. I love it for that. Despite this, I can’t call it flawless, nor can I call it bad. I said it before, I’ll say it again, the game is quaint.
Our review is based upon a retail version that was provided to us by the publisher of the game for review. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Kennard Daniel Prim isn’t just your average gamer, he’s a die-hard fan of the single-player genre, specializing in imported games from Japan as well as his love for everything RPG related. As a contributor to Blast Away the Game Review, his knowledge of such games becomes just as invaluable as his critiquing of games.