STORY OF SEASONS: Friends of Mineral Town - Release Date Announcement [NINTENDO SWITCH]
Who it Caters to
In 2003, one of the best titles in the Harvest Moon franchise got released, and so we met the people of Mineral Town. However, it all started in 1997 with the original Harvest Moon, becoming the first popular farming simulation video game. While other games force you to be an action hero or put you in the shoes of a sports star, these games are all about enjoying life at your own pace, growing some crops and forging valuable friendships with different people, to the point where you can actually get married and have kids.
In terms of Story of Seasons games for the Switch and PC, first, there was Light of Hope, a rushed game that not many people liked; then, it was Doraemon Story of Seasons, a game with beautiful watercolor landscapes and nice gameplay, that's also quite intimidating if you don't like/know Doraemon. Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town, nonetheless, is the first true-to-the-franchise game for the Nintendo Switch... so, third time's the charm?
What to Expect
This game is a remake of the original Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town, which also mixes some of the features of its female version, Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town. Everything available for the first games is available here too, so we have the same basic story and gameplay, with updated graphics and some nice additions. We'll talk about some of these improvements in the gameplay section of our review, but if you enjoyed the original games, then you can expect the same heartwarming feeling plus some Quality of Life changes!
Spoilers: same-sex marriage, several new characters, and more!
SoS: FoMT looks really good compared to other farming games, with new sprites and textures that actually stand out when compared to the old Mineral Town games, but without going out of the way to try new things like some other, more recent Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons games. In that sense, Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town actually feels like a good remake, with a wondrous use of color, revamped menus, and updated character designs to make it all appear somewhat new.
You can't fully rotate the camera, and we still have loading screens between areas instead of an open world, though, but there's a certain joy when you play a game like this one, with cute graphics that are not just dreadful 3D attempts or cheap Android/iOS ports.
Starting with the soundtrack, all seasons have new themes—our favorite one is the Summer one, with strong 'Aloha-Oe' vibes—and a remake version of the old tune, and we really do like them as we consider them both relaxing and a nice match to the game... but given the nature of a farming game, most of the times you won't have enough time to enjoy them properly since all songs are interrupted every time you enter a new area, for example.
All sound effects are nicely done too, although it's easy to miss them because they are seamlessly intertwined with the music. All in all, everything sound-related here is exactly what you would expect in a farming game, with the quality seal of the Story of Seasons franchise.
You inherit a farm from your grandpa, and so, you move to Mineral Town. When Thomas the Mayor tells you about this place, you have two options: accepting your new life as a farmer, or just saying 'no'... only to watch the credits roll.
Your objective is to become a successful farmer, growing different crops to sell, raising animals to sell their products, fishing, foraging, mining to find valuable minerals, and participating in different events to make your farm even more popular with the townspeople. But hey, this is not only about your new farm, so you can also seduce all bachelors and bachelorettes with daily gifts and homemade food, dreaming of someday starting a family.
One of the cool features of this new version is that you can play as either a boy or a girl, with 2 different character designs available for every sex. The other addition is that you can romance all single men and women in town, marrying your favorite character regardless of your gender. This feature, unique to the western version of Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town, is a direct result of combining the two original games... because, for some reason, there were two separate games back in the day, one for boys and one for girls.
For a more casual, relaxed experience, you can also play the easy mode, which gives you more money and makes it easier to befriend all characters (which leads to more events, recipes, etc). Compared to other games, time flies in this remake, so there's no shame on choosing the easiest path if you're new to virtual farming or just don't know how to make the best of this game mechanics.
This time we have more animals too. Instead of the starting puppy, you can have up to 5 pets once you buy them, with several dogs, cats, penguins, and capybara to chose from. The downside? You have to wait at least until the first Summer, and Van is selling pets only the 15th of every month... if it's sunny.
For those who played the original Harvest Moon version, finding new livestock animals may sound like another fun reason to revisit Mineral Town. There are 4 different cows now: the classic black and white one gives you regular milk, the pink one gives you strawberry milk, the brown one gives you coffee milk, and the orange one gives you fruit milk. Angora rabbits and alpaca are also available, as well as chickens and your pet horse.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Nostalgia is definitely a big selling point, but Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is a great game if you enjoy farming and getting to know all your neighbors. This is not only the best Story of Seasons game for the Switch, but it also brings several new features to improve the basic gameplay mechanics. Say goodbye to that inaccessible crop in the middle of your 3x3 plot! In fact, all seeds are planted in a 3x3 area by default, and you can walk over all crops to harvest and water your vegetables!
You can change your clothes, you can be a gay farmer, and you can spend way less time farming or befriending other people. Now, this is a SoS game we love!
Min-maxing is easier now, with the simplified harvesting layout.
Play as either a boy or a girl, and marry whoever you want.
Strawberry cows are so cute!
Waiting at least one season and a half, and actually spending money to finally get a pet.
Loading times between areas, although short, are still a thing.
Honey's Final Verdict:
We’re so happy to see that Story of Seasons is finally giving us a fun game again, which hopefully may lead to a new original story, with even more improvements and new features. Knowing everything about Mineral Town, it only took us a couple evenings to ‘complete’ the game, earning enough money to buy all upgrades and ultimately starting a family with our lovely Popuri… but also starting a new save just to get a lesbian fling with Ran.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is not as deep as Stardew Valley, though, but it’s a more than decent remake of one of our favorite games in this series. Now, if you excuse us, we have to go back and take care of our farm!
Author: Yaz L.
Hey, there! I'm a soon-to-be marine biologist who just happens to love video games, dream pop music, and BL/yaoi stuff. When I was a kid, I lived in Colombia for 3 years and now I'm a sucker for hot chocolate with cheese. My favorite treat while watching anime!