Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town
Developer/Publisher: Marvellous Inc./XSEED Games
Genre: Lifestyle, Simulation
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 10/07/2020
A code has been provided for review purposes. This is a preview. Full impressions will be posted on the 8th of July, 2020.
What’s the STORY with Harvest Moon?
The Harvest Moon moniker has been around since the days of the SNES, with the first instalment releasing in Japan in 1996. With its roots firmly planted in its Japanese origins, over the years it has been localised in Western countries for the masses to enjoy. An acquisition of the IP by Marvellous Inc. – formerly known as Marvellous Entertainment – saw a name change to Story of Seasons. This wasn’t an immediate change though, and it was only when Xseed Games began handling the English translation and distribution in 2014 instead of Natsume that Story of Seasons became a mainstay.
With much confusion regarding the name change and the fact that Harvest Moon was such a household name for so long, it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that Story of Seasons just hasn’t garnered the same following that the early Harvest Moon games did. This could all be set to change though, as Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is a reimagining of the similarly named Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town that made a home on the Gameboy Advance console. Widely considered to be the best in the series, Friends of Mineral Town could well be the game that throws Story of Seasons into the limelight – just as it did back in 2003.
A timeless classic or a classic lost to time?
Promising to deliver the same joy that the original offered some 17 years ago is no mean feat, yet Marvelous Inc. and Xseed Games are confident – it is even referred to as a timeless classic on the Nintendo eShop. There is evidence to suggest that this is true. You only have to look as far as the highly successful Stardew Valley or the powerhouse that is Animal Crossing to see the Story of Seasons (Harvest Moon) inspired mechanics. Such a long time between the original and this reimagining can be a blessing and a curse: the competition is now much fiercer than it was, yet a desire after what started it all is also evident among the gaming community.
It is at this point it seems most apt to share that, for this writer, the Harvest Moon series played a significant role in shaping my childhood gaming exploits and my affinity with simulation role-playing games – especially of the agricultural variety. Readers will draw their own conclusions from this as to how it may shape my views when my review is shared upon release, but in short, I was equal parts excited and apprehensive about the reimagining of a cult classic.
Organic – rather apt for a farming sim.
At the time of writing, I am approaching the Winter of Year 1. I have amassed a significant amount of money, expanded the size of my house, upgraded some of my tools to illustrious gold, and my love life is non-existent. This is how I have always approached the opening hours of farming sims, and the ability to do so again here is evidence of the familiarity and comfort that permeates through the early moments of this reimagining. It is immediately apparent that the tried and true formula has been strictly adhered to. While the visuals have seen a significant upgrade, albeit, in the signature style synonymous with past Harvest Moon titles, the game looks and feels like the early entries in the series.
It isn’t just the visuals that have been developed and enhanced, considerations have been made so that it suits the hardware it was designed for. The control scheme makes use of the two analogue sticks very well, and there is a fluidity to the mechanics that is instantly recognisable. It makes it easy for fans old and new to pick up and play and when coupled with the new ‘easy’ mode which allows players to start with a greater pot of money from get-go, it makes the daunting prospect of a simulation RPG such as this a much more inviting proposition.
With a game of Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town’s magnitude, a considerable amount of time is required to explore the mechanics, delve into the finer details, and analyse its longevity. Having received the game on the 16th June, it is clear that XSEED and Marvellous Inc. acknowledge and welcome this. It is allowing for it to be played for review much more organically – rather apt for a farming sim.
Review coming soon!
My full thoughts on the game will be shared on the 8th July 2020, ahead of its release on the 10th July 2020.
You can pre-purchase Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town on the Nintendo eShop now.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.