It’s been a long time since I played a Story of Seasons (a.k.a. Harvest Moon) game. Reminiscing, it was back on the Game Boy Advance (GBA) where I bought a copy of Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town to play. Funnily enough, Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is a remake of the GBA classic—and what a classic it was. Back on the GBA, it was the game that first captured my interest in farming/mining/romancing games—where the goal was slow progression…and to get rich eventually! And it’s safe to say that the remake has captured that same feeling of nostalgia.
The game is a smooth and enjoyable experience on the Switch. This being said, for the first time ever, the game is available on the PC in glorious 4K—if that’s what you’re in to. In this day and age, it’s rare to experience a game where you aren’t bombarded with tutorials and complicated mechanics; I am happy to say that the experience here was desirable. The game doesn’t call for complicated, lengthy tutorials and convoluted backstory. The fanbase know what to expect here, and the game is intuitive enough that the minimal introduction and tutorials at the start make it easy enough for new players to pick up the title with no issues.
Being a remake, the game doesn’t necessarily provide innovation in the genre, but it’s a throwback to the gameplay that we all know and love. When compared to more recent, similar titles—like Stardew Valley—the content here is a little more bare-bones in some regard. Character creation leaves a lot to be desired, with a preset of four different visual options to choose from. In terms of the size of your farm, there is plenty of space to grow crops and for animals to roam; but, there is not much customisability in terms of layout of the farm and placement of buildings and trees. This limits creativity a little bit, but does speak to what has been done in the series so far—so it is to be expected.
What you can expect is to have all of the classic mechanics associated with the series. Tools are upgradeable, taking materials to do so, and you need to level them up first by using them on your farm. Mining is necessary to get the materials, and you’ll have to delve as soon as possible if you plan on expanding your farm as painlessly as possible. My go-to upgrade was the watering can, as I found that watering my huge fields everyday was not just painful on the fingers and wrists; but, also was near to impossible with the limited stamina bar and without shovelling food down my character’s throat.
A large part of the series—with no exception in this reiteration—are the town events and getting to know the townspeople. Events are visible on the in-game calendar, and you are usually approached at the farm the morning before an event will be held in town—with the messenger encouraging you to visit and participate. These events include things such as competitions and races, pitting one of your selected animals against the other townsfolk in little minigames. Socialising with the townspeople is a large part of the game and the calendar events help in that regard. Of course, the game does have a friending (or, romancing?) system, where you can build up your reputation with select individuals in the game by learning about their interests and bringing them gifts.
I can definitely recommend this game for people that are fans of the series; there is a lot of nostalgia here for players who have experienced the past iterations. Graphically, the game is beautiful to look at; a vignette cradles the edges of the screen, naturally guiding the players visual focus to the centre of the screen on the character. The game provides a gradual progression and is a great on-the-go game—perfect for a portable platform like the Switch. The game is currently available on Steam and Nintendo Switch, retailing at around A$80.