Title: Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town
Release Date: July 14, 2020
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: XSEED Games
The Switch continues to grace me with more entries of the Story of Seasons series, which I will not complain about. Now, Marvelous brings us Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town, a remastered version of the 2003 Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town that released on Gameboy Advance. This updated version gives fans some fresh new graphics to look at, a few new characters, and many other improvements to make it worth returning to.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town begins with you inheriting your late grandfather’s farm in Mineral Town. Twenty years have passed since you last visited it as a child and you are tasked with restoring it to its former glory, and hopefully make it your new home along the way.
Returning players will quickly catch on to the requirements and flow required for this farming simulation. For newcomers, the basics systems include farming, fishing, mining, and cooking. However, there’s also a charming little town full of wonderful villagers to meet and interact with. As you balance your new farming lifestyle, you’ll create relationships with the townspeople, fall in love, attend festivals, and play mini-games.
Farming can be a bit overwhelming during the first season since you only have access to basic tools and limited ways to earn money. Eventually, though, tasks become streamlined thanks to the outsourcing features where you can enlist nature sprites to help you with your chores. Daily routines are further simplified thanks to features like the ability to pick up just-cut lumber and just-hammered stones automatically. Furthermore, purchasing items when your bag is already full will send them directly to your home storage.
Menu options within the game are also detailed with multiple functions, such as being able to see the store hours on the town map without having to walk all the way across town. It is also easy to quickly check how much fodder, grain, lumber, or stones you have within the menu. There are three options for button setups; however, button controls still take some getting used to, so expect to eat accidentally or gift items now and then.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town has definitely seen an update in the graphics department since its original 2003 release. Still, the game retains a minimalist presentation that only proves it isn’t a brand new entry in the series. Regardless, the animals and character renditions are by far some of the cutest in the series to date. Interacting with the villagers shows off their adorable illustrations, but their 3D chibi forms are just as cute as they make their way around town.
When it comes to simple tasks, players can easily get the hang of things, but understanding the nuances and requirements for events can be confusing. I found myself accessing an old Harvest Moon guide just to understand what I was doing wrong or how to progress the narrative. Knowing where to go or what to do takes time, and on some occasions, you don’t know what has to be done to trigger a specific event to occur.
The television provides some necessary information, but with only one piece of knowledge a day, the learning process involves patience. There’s also the library or your bookshelf to get the majority of the details you need. Just get used to not being able to do everything during your first year. It’s a game that shouldn’t be rushed, but being locked out of milestones because it wasn’t explained what needs to be done, is just misdirection.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town has some strange quirks such as the animals getting stuck on top of each other, which makes it difficult to interact with them. Additionally, an annoying glitch occurs when multiple people are walking on a path in opposite directions, and my character would simply get stuck until a character changed their path, wasting a bit of my day. Once at the edge of the pier, I was locked in my position by a character until they turned around to go home.
[UPDATE] The publisher let us know that you are able to get around the NPCs and animals by using the auto-run button.
I adored the upbeat music and sound effects provided by nature. Things like the water in streams, the ocean, the wind, or rain, adds a nice layer of immersion. However, the footsteps can get annoying because it sounds like knocking, but when I was focused on tasks, it didn’t really bother me.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is exceptionally addicting as you always have something that you need to do. The best thing about the entire experience is that there isn’t really a wrong way to play it. Each in-game morning had me eager to check on my farm and catch up with the residents to progress my relationships in hopes of marrying my dream guy, which is all I could have really asked for.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is the perfect farming simulation for Switch. It eases you into the genre but provides tons of special events and milestones to hit for those who invest the most time into it. There are more than enough reasons to make this your first entry in the series or revisit Mineral Town again.
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