It’s been a long time since I’ve played a Harvest moon game but long hours of Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing have insured it’s a series I haven’t forgotten coming to Nintendo Switch July 10th. Story of Seasons Friends of Mineral Town is part of the much larger Harvest Moon series and is a remake of the Gameboy Advance titles Friends of Mineral Town. It features its alternative female main character version More Friends of Mineral Town which (I’m happy to say is not a thing here allowing you to play male or female from the start and this time same-sex marriage is an option! ) themselves both being sort of reinterpretation of Harvest Moon Back to Nature
This means a number of new things for this new take on Mineral town compared to the GBA version firstly and arguably the biggest change comes from the switch from Sprite based graphics to 3D doing a good job at keeping to the Harvest moon art style except for a little more chibi and cutesy than before and this looks great on the Nintendo Switch in handheld mode and running through the TV. Of course a new lick of paint you’d expect this also means new redesign character avatars and you would be right these are all really well done which is great. When you spend a lot of time speaking to people around the town can see the slight difference as while the character is the same from the GBA version, they use the original Japanese names for that title as they were all slightly changed or modified for the western release originally. In addition to the graphical redesign, it has some much-needed quality of life and U.I changes making it easier than ever to switch between tools and drop things off out of your inventory. No more equipping first to put away in your tool or farm box, and no more being unable to walk over planted crops in a post Stardew itself in alot of ways being a homage to games like Harvest Moon this is much appreciated and speeds up and cleans some of the more annoying elements making it quicker and easier to get things done over all.
Starting the game you’re given the choice of four-player protagonist, two male, two female having no need for separate editions here and an easier mode giving you an edge in your farm life some bonus supplies. All the protagonists can be renamed but other than that you do not get many options in the way of customisation but have the option to customise your appearance later on an entirely similar fashion to those who have played Starjew Valley. The beginning of the game you receive a letter from the town mayor inviting you to the farm which your grandfather owned in this case giving you brief flashback glimpse of fond memories of a time you once spent there as a child.
From there Mineral town and your farm are you proverbial oyster this is where the game opens up while there is a structure of things you can do your more or less left to your own devices. Whether that be fishing or mining and of course planting crops, I set off immediately by introducing myself among the townsfolk and grabbing myself some seeds. After I did some yard work to gain some much-needed funds for some seeds to start off my farming adventure I started by investing in some turnip and cucumber seeds as it was spring.
The crops change with the season and vary in growing time, turnips being fairly quick growing and cucumber being more slow-growing but producing higher-value crops with it multiple yields which can pay off now that crops have a rating system. This value crops 1 to 5 stars, of course, higher-value crops having a higher gold value this is great again similar to Stardew valley that can occasionally give you boosts to your cashflow. Being able to walk over your crops now too means you don’t have to fuss around this time when it comes to watering and taking care of them this makes all the difference not risking damaging or losing any of your yields. An absolute godsend is the now featured stamina bar not leaving you looking for telltale animations before you collapse from tiredness allowing you to play you day just that little bit more productivity.
All this comes in handy of course needing to buy new seeds to match seasons as they come and go much like real-life certain weather means better growth for different plants and Friends of Mineral gives you essential structures like a barn and a chicken coop from the get-go. You’ll need it to invest in some of the new animals and livestock to be bought like the strawberry and coffee cow or brown chickens. These all offer different yields like the previously mentioned strawberry cows produce strawberry milk, of course, these need to be looked after with chicken feed used for chickens and rabbits and grass for your bovine friends with their given yields often being more valuable if you choose to groom interact with them, you can even eventually breed them! You also get a horse not long into the game this starts out young but grows with time eventually allowing you mount it and ride it around your farm and town for quick travel around the various locations around town as well as all these animals on offer for more beneficial reasons you can get a variety of pets from your standard cat and dogs but also more exotic editions like a capybara.
This being Mineral town you, of course, can go mining, this becomes more important as you go on about expanding and upgrading your farm as you need the minerals found here like copper to upgrade your tools. A hoe upgrade allowing you to till more than one square at a time when farming or the axe allowing you to clear stumps on your lands allowing you more room to plant, in the same vein things like fishing rod can be upgraded of course you have to use these tools to level them up to access the upgrades first. Mining is pretty simple to go in bash some rocks with a hammer and use your hoe to till the ground until you find a ladder down to the next, lower levels becoming bigger and offering move valuable ores and even gems that you can give to the blacksmith to create jewellery, useful for money but also useful to use as gifts to those around town.
After loading 16 tons down the mine what do you get? A whole heap of stamina drain! Fear not as just outside the mine there is a hot spring you can use free of charge to rest and recover, if you just need to relax and unwind from all the work for a day you can always go fishing! It doesn’t use much stamina and is a good way to make some extra money while you wait for things like crops to eventually grow.
The friends of Mineral Town!
Of course, moving to a new neighbourhood is exciting and big part of that is always the neighbours themselves. Mineral town is inhabited by over 20 NPCs each with their own names, lives and personalities some running the general store or the blacksmith for example and much like real-life some that you will love and some you will hate (I’m looking at you, Kai). You can get to know all of them and help them out occasionally even giving them certain gifts each NPC liking something a little different and of course, disliking other things, that’s part of the fun. Here getting to know what certain people like and dislike and building up a relationship between your character and the NPC you can do certain actions for them and like previously mentioned gifts. Make sure to check your calendar for events this plays into things too as taking part in a click cluck clash event, for example, can have special rewards linked to them. It’s also a sure way to build up relationships with the townsfolk and of course if it’s your thing finding out their favourite thing and charming them and remembering their birthdays can eventually lead to marriage and this time around regardless of your chosen sex you can marry the same or opposite sex no problem something that’s nice to see added as an option. It also adds some extra replay value to those who wish to do multiple romance option playthroughs being often rewarded with new cutscenes and new pieces of dialogue and often items!
Of course, the nature sprites are back to all 7 of them, unlike the other normal inhabitants of Mineral town these guys are somewhat hidden and offer more than just friendly conversation raising your reputation with these little guys allows you hire them to do various tasks around your farm like watering and collecting crops. All around making your life a little easier and giving you more to invest in other things around town like mining or getting your reputation up with town folk.
The Harvest goddess returns too! You can get her to reveal herself in a bit of a secret process involving a river and she can give you various benefits as you improve your relationship with her. After a very long process, you can even eventually marry her but this does have a lot of prerequisites. Like having a fully upgraded house (something else to spend your hard-earned gold on) or catch every type of fish and that’s just two of them but the list goes on.
Of course the farm simulation role-playing game genre isn’t for everyone and unlike Stardew there isn’t any combat or anything like that here on offer which might be a shame to some people, but fans of original Friends of Mineral town or Stardew Valley itself also available on the switch and for a much cheaper price which is worth mentioning as the games are very similar. But those who own Stardew and are looking for something new and might want to play a title that very much inspired Stardew while having different systems like cow breeding to explore as well the new host of characters Stardew fans may find a lot to like here too Story of Seasons: Freinds of Mineral town is a solid title on the Switch and this remaster and its additions are all welcome and in a Post Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Stardew Valley world should have no issues finding a wide audience, and I definitely enjoyed my time, in fact, I think I’m going to be in Mineral Town a little while longer…
A Nintendo Switch Review Code was provided by Marvleous