The game that takes me back to back to Nature
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is a remake of the original Harvest Moon: Back to Nature game released on PlayStation. This game has seen a few adjustments following its release where it was ported to the PlayStation Portable and a remake on the Game Boy Advance under the name Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town.
Being almost faithful to the original Harvest Moon game in every way it seems impossible to talk about Story of Seasons apart from a nostalgic point of view but there is a lot to catch up for any newcomers of the series and for anyone who hasn’t played this version of the farming sim. You take the role of a farmer who inherits a farm and you must restore it to its former glory while also making friends with the people of Mineral Town. The game starts off with you choosing a character and there are four to choose from, not the largest variety by any standards but arguably the best variety that we have seen in the Back to Nature/Friends of Mineral Town series. In fact, the whole game is rather simplified when compared to other games in the Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons games that are currently on the market.
The graphics consist of cartoony and bright and cheerful colours that blend and set the tone for the game. The character sprites are of a chibi style and work well with the charm but what is exceptionally well done is the actual character panels that show when conversing with everyone. The game gave me two options when starting out which I could either start with the default settings or have a decent amount of money and crops to start with making my earlier days much easier. I went with the default option as with any farming sim I like to start from scratch, after all the fun is making progress and when some of that is progress is already done it takes away from it especially as here the game keeps things relatively simple throughout anyway. Your first few days or even month will consist of conversing with the townsfolk and buying and watering crops and even buy your first animal. Speaking of animals you will notice you start with no dog but you will absolutely have one, later on, you can even choose to have a Cat, Capybara or Penguin. Other animals include new variations of Cows such as Strawberry, Fruit and Coffee Cows and of course these will produce said Milk from the Cow being milked. Sheep still exist also as do Alpacas that will give you Wool. Giant rabbits will give you fur also. You will get your Horse early on and must look after it in order to keep it, Chickens are the staple go-to Animal early on and my first port of call was to get one. I would even go as to say get one before you buy your first bag upgrade. While bag space is limited you will not find yourself running out of room anytime soon and most forageable Items are found right outside your doorstep. You are given a tree in which you can harvest Honey and some Wild Grapes that can be foraged once a day. While your farm is key to progressing there is other things that will make your farming life much easier. The mine will allow you to collect Ores and Gems that can be used to upgrade your tools to make farming life easier and can also be sold for profit. You can upgrade your house, partake in events throughout the year and get married, all of the things that could do before you still can here.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town does have a lot of cool new features that make it one of the best ways to play such as indicators for where tools will be used, even when planting seeds will show an indicator and much like the original remains a 3×3 plant radius. You can walk through crops making it easier to plan on the farm, you won’t accidentally eat everything you are holding and its a lot harder to throw an item away. Selecting tools and items is much quicker and easier thanks to the two Switch Joysticks. Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral keeps things simple throughout and there isn’t much room for error and if you do mess up then the repercussions aren’t massive and you will make up quite easily for any shortcomings. The character interactions are great and a lot more seem to trigger between villagers giving each character a distinct personality more than before.
One aspect of Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town where it really shines for me is the music. I was completely enthralled by the tracks that have been enhanced. Hearing the Spring theme shift to the Town music kept me going throughout, at first I was disappointed when I got to Summer and the theme I remember was gone until I realised it hadn’t, the day started on a weekend meaning a new track was playing and by the weekday I was treated to the brilliant Summertime hit I remember beautifully remixed. The new tracks as well as the old just give off the most satisfying vibe.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral captures many of the elements of the original game and enhances them bringing them to an up to date audience while enhancing certain gameplay flaws, The game may not be for everyone though, the game does lack a lot of new features which the series is known for but as a nostalgic blast from the past it sure does deliver,
A copy of Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town on the Switch was purchased by the Reviewer.