Review – Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town

Back in 2017, I reviewed Harvest Moon: Light of Hope, and was shocked with how bland that game ended up being. A series so well-known for featuring games that suck you in almost instantly having a title as undercooked as that one was really weird, but I now I understand why. That Harvest Moon isn’t exactly the one we so fondly remember from our childhood. That’s a “new” franchise created in 2007 by Natsume, which holds the rights to the Harvest Moon name, but not the actual games they used to publish back in the day. What we know nowadays as Story of Seasons (which is how those games have always been known as in Japan) are the games from our childhood, owned and developed by Marvelous. If you feel confused with this kind of information, don’t worry, so was I when I found out about this mess.

I wrote this confusing mess of a paragraph just to let you know that the latest entry in the series, Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town, is actually a remake of the Game Boy Advance title known as Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town. Which was already a remake of the Playstation game Harvest Moon: Back to Nature. Ugh, my head hurts. I think I need an aspirin.

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At least someone out there recognizes it.

Just like in pretty much any other Harvest Moon / Story of Seasons game, your objective is turn a recently inherited farm into a profitable business by cleaning your field, growing and selling crops, raising animals, selling their eggs and milk, and so on. You are also tasked with talking to the local townsfolk, befriending them, buying items from them, and also marrying one of the various eligible bachelors or bachelorettes via the most romantic deed of all time: giving them their favorite meal each and every single day. Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is a smart game that knows that the key to anyone’s heart lies on said person’s stomach.

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Lady, I’m a farmer, not a shrink.

Granted, the game starts off at a snail’s pace. Your farm is in shambles, your farming equipment is terrible, your stamina is so low that you can literally faint if you water too many seeds in one day, your finances are abysmal, and you don’t have a lot of crops to sell. The first few hours will be spent on slowly getting better equipment and seeds in order to speed up your farm’s efficiency, as well as paying attention to everyone else’s routines, as you’ll spend your precious little free time on the game’s handful of shops, as well as flirting with the aforementioned hot local singles in your area.

You’ll quickly realize that you’ll end up on a routine: wake up, tend to crops and cattle, go to town, buy stuff, talk to people, give food to your favorite fling, go back to your farm, fill up the shipping bin, go to the mine, dig for some minerals, go to bed, repeat. It sounds boring, but it’s not. It’s a weird routine that works, as there’s always something to make a day different from the previous one. Maybe it’s a holiday, meaning that there will be a party on the main square. Maybe it’s a Tuesday, meaning that the main store is closed. Maybe it’s raining, meaning that you won’t need to spend a ton of time watering seeds, giving you more free time to hit the shops or the local mine. I think that I finally understand why so many people got addicted on Animal Crossing.

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Just like in Animal Crossing, turnips are 95% of my farm’s GDP.

In terms of presentation, Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is far from impressive, but it gets the job done because it’s so gosh darn adorable. Everything looks very simplistic, like a PS2 game at best, but every single character in the game is so cute I feel like squishing them. It also runs at a solid 60 frames per second in both portable and docked modes. There is no voice acting, or barely any sound effects to speak of, but the game more than makes up for it with an adorable soundtrack that immediately sticks into your brain.

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She looks like that kind of person who chooses her friends based on their zodiac sign.

Remaking Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town for another portable system ended up being a really smart idea. Everything that made the game work so well on-the-go all those years ago is still here, but with better graphics, music, performance, and some additional content. It’s a such a relaxing experience, with little to no tension, that fits perfectly in between rounds of Doom Eternal and Duke Nukem. There’s nothing like going back to your ranch, saying hi to your beloved wife you met twenty-five minutes earlier, and taking care of your adorable little cows after literally tearing demons apart.

 

Graphics: 6.5

Although the visuals are simplistic to the point of looking like an early PS2 game, Friends of Mineral Town compensates by offering an excellent framerate and a wide assortment of absolutely adorable characters.

Gameplay: 8.5

Simple controls that work well on both portable and docked modes. The performance is stable on both modes as well. There’s nothing inherently bad with the gameplay besides the fact that you’ll be stuck in a routine-like gameplay loop, which might be a selling point for some and a deal breaker for others.

Sound: 7.0

The game is devoid of voice acting, and it features little to no sound effects, but its soundtrack is good enough to make you forget about how silent everything else is.

Fun Factor: 8.5

It’s a slow start, as you won’t have any crops, animals, or good farming equipment, but you’ll quickly immerse yourself into a fun routine that will let you steadily transform your crappy ranch into a profitable business.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is available now on PC and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town was provided by the publisher.