After the announcement of the Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town remake, I became increasingly curious of what changes, if any, would come to the remake. Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town (and the female version of the game) holds a very special place in my heart, as do most other games in the franchise, so I’ve decided to be whiny and petty and write an article about how discoverable they’ve made this remake, and how much easier it’s become.
UPDATE: It’s been two weeks since the release, and in retrospect, the only change from this list that I’d keep is rival marriages being removed; the other changes have grown on me and I like them. I’ve since discovered that animals on your farm can’t die—if you don’t feed them, they’ll be just fine, they just won’t produce byproducts for a day or two. It’s also significantly more difficult to pass out in this game. I fell 20+ floors in the mine with 0 left in my stamina bar before passing out. That’s wild. Overall, I’m not too happy at all with these easy-mode changes that have been made, and I’m not entirely sure what compelled Marvelous to remove certain aspects from the 2003 GBA release. It’s very disappointing.
5. More Inventory Space
Remember when I complained about how I would go crazy if they gave us three inventory slots again? They didn’t, but I’m still not happy about it.
In the original version of this game, your initial rucksack only holds two items, and you can carry one more in your hands, making the total three slots. You also have three tool slots. There are two available upgrades, sold by Jeff at the Supermarket. The second upgrade is available a week after purchasing the first upgrade, which is similar to the original game.
Items didn’t stack in the original Friends of Mineral Town, so it was incredibly time-consuming if you were trying to make money in the mines, but you only have three item slots, and you have to keep throwing items away/traveling back-and-forth from the mine to your shipping bin.
In the remake, we have four tool slots, and eight item slots. That’s a lot, and items stack in the remake now, so I’m not sure how eight slots is necessary… except to make the game easier. In Harvest Moon DS items in the inventory was stackable, which seemed really overpowered, honestly.
You can see your inventory slots on-screen now, which is incredibly useful, and I’m thankful for that change.
This is a very small complaint, but I’m not convinced that starting the game with eight slots and being able to upgrade to a much larger capacity is necessary, especially since items will stack.
4. How Can You Marry Popuri And Not Feel Like A Pedophile?
Rick received a serious glow-up, and honestly, I’m here for it. No one ever married that guy. Good for him! But let’s take a minute to talk about some of the other villager changes.
Igusa Matsuyama is the artist responsible for every entry in the main Bokujou Monogatari aka “Ranch Story” series (including FoMT, which carried over character designs from ’64 and Back to Nature wholesale), except for Tree of Tranquility and Animal Parade. He also recently worked on the character design for Little Dragons Cafe.
Matsuyama goes into a lot of detail about this in his personal blog. He states that although this game is a remake, it is also a new game. Compared to ports, which means bringing over the previous game to newer platforms; and remasters, which essentially keep the same content but improves on visuals and sound quality; this is a remake, which keeps the same premise but remixes content in a way that fits modern times. While it’s a bit hard to call this a completely new game, Matsuyama states, “a new game is a new game”.
For example, Karen first received her design in Harvest Moon 64, and it was Matsuyama’s first project as a character designer. Karen had blonde bangs as a reference to Eve from the first Harvest Moon on SNES, whom she was the granddaughter of. However, in Back to Nature and later, Friends of Mineral Town, Karen was changed to being Jeff and Sasha’s daughter while keeping the same design. In SoS: FoMT, Karen’s hair color is more reminiscent of her parents’, with light brown leading into a dark brown at the back. Karen’s clothes are also modernized, and better fit someone working at the Supermarket.
Meanwhile, Rick in ’64 was an inventor and a descendant from Ann in SNES Harvest Moon. Appearance-wise, he wears indoor clothes and a long apron that didn’t fit his backstory when he and Popuri became siblings who worked at the Poultry Farm, with him filling-in for their missing father. In SoS: FoMT, Rick’s clothes are more accurate to that of a poultry farmer’s, with his rolled-up sleeves, boots, and even holding chicken feed in his arms. It can also be clearly seen in his 3D model that his eyes are now purple, matching Popuri’s eye color. His expression are also more composed, compared to the upbeat friendliness radiating from the original design.
But let’s look at some other designs that don’t necessarily make sense. For example, Gotz is a character whose backstory is quite tragic. He is a loner who is broke by his past experiences, and it makes sense that his character looks so untidy in the GBA version of FoMT. In the remake, he looks clean and tidy, which doesn’t correlate at all with his character and backstory.
Ann has lost her tomboy-ish charm, Carter’s clothes not fit the Harvest Goddess’s color scheme.And don’t even get me started on Duke’s new appearance, they really did a number on him. Duke has appeared in several Harvest Moon games, and it doesn’t make sense that they’d completely recreate his character design. How are people who are new to the series supposed to know that Duke in SoS: FoMT is the same character as Duke in Magical Melody? I guess we can hope we’re getting remakes of those older games, too.
I think the arguments for changing designs makes sense, just like the reasoning behind localizing character names makes sense, it’s just unfortunate that these new characters are more chibi and childlike.
3. Birthday/Relationship Menu
This has been a feature that seems to be cropping up more and more in newer Story of Seasons releases, and I don’t believe they plan on ever removing or changing it, but it does take some of the mystery away from the villagers in the game. There’s a satisfying surprise when you’ve given your best friend their favorite item every single day, not knowing when or if anything would come of it, and then one day they give you a special cooking recipe. Now, you can open your menu and look at how much a villager likes you.
For example, a character in this game will knit a Christmas sock for you, but only if you befriend her and bring her yarn. Her dialogue would change depending on how friendly she was with you (all villager dialogues will change depending on how much they like you) and it was the only indicator players had to know if they would be able to receive the Christmas stocking that year or not. Birthdays were another mechanism in the game that you were supposed to just figure out on your own.
With this new menu, you can see how much all of the villagers like you, and all birthdays are listed on the calendar in your home.
Harvest Moon has always had a heart system in their game that makes it easy to see how much a marriage candidate likes you, usually indicated by the colored heart next to their character dialogue, but this ruins the surprise entirely. I’m not sure if Friendship Points (FP) and Love Points (LP) values have increased/decreased with the remake on Normal Mode (more on that below!), but if it is overall easier to befriend villagers, I will be even more disappointed. In my opinion, it was fairly simple in the original so long as you worked at it everyday. Social interaction and farming in Harvest Moon has always required a balance, and it would be a shame to see a shift.
2. Rival Marriages Removed
You no longer have to worry about your waifu being stolen out from under you. In the remake, you may witness the first two rival events between every bachelor/bachelorette, but no more than that, and it does not affect your Friendship Points (FP) or Love Points (LP) between you and your love interest.
As a kid, I received the boy-version of Friends of Mineral Town when it was first released in 2003, and I decided I wanted to marry Karen. I worked really hard, and year four came around and little did I know I had witnessed the final rival event between Rick and Karen, and Rick, my rival marriage candidate, stole her right out from under me.
I cried and I had to go marry someone else, but afterwards, I remember appreciating the stress the game puts on you to get a head-start and start a family. You can definitely play the whole game without getting married, but you do miss out on a few random events.
Rival events in classic Bokujou Monogatari games would showcase marriage candidates and the rivals for their affection. These rivals would be trying to woo the same candidates as you and could beat you to wedded bliss if their rival event chain reached its conclusion before you made your move. Modern-day versions of the series do not contain rival events because surveyed players in Japan don’t like them.
The original FoMT game contains four rival events that would result in the event couples getting married. These rival events trigger based on your love point level with the marriage candidate. The criteria for triggering rival events were measured by the candidate’s lack of affection towards you as well as the current year in the game. Candidates needed to have a minimum heart level or a lower heart color for the rival event. Basically, these rival events were the opposite of romantic heart events and would trigger at low affection levels. If a candidate had a black heart color, all of that candidate’s rival events could trigger after completing the required number of in-game years.
In an attempt to balance old and new, the remake of Friends of Mineral Town only contains the first two classic rival events for the marriage candidate couples. These two events could be triggered in year one in the GBA games. The missing two events, the green rival event (year two) and the orange rival event (year four), have been left out of this game. Omitting the rival marriage system also results in several random events left out of SoS:FoMT because the events required the rival couple to be married.
1. The New Difficulty Modes
Ahem. This one bothers me the most. Harvest Moon has always had a certain level of difficulty in their games, and they’re now catering to the younger generation that feeds off of the loot box/pay to win strategy. Now that they’ve introduced a new Easy Mode into the game, it takes significantly less time to complete objectives in the game.
The old games didn’t care if you had no idea what was going on, and that felt good, to be honest. I didn’t want to be treated like a kid, and I enjoyed the energy and work I had to put into the game. Stardew Valley fans and veteran Harvest Moon players will probably understand where I’m coming from with this.
I find it rather insidious how modern games throw in stuff like side quests with no relevance, micro transactions, and other flashy things to keep a game interesting long enough to keep a player’s attention to complete a game. The quality of the game is no longer based off of, well, quality, and it’s no longer based on the actual merits of the gameplay. Game developers are simply okay with releasing a lackluster core game, because it’s a safe, lazy, and profitable alternative to make a game addictive to younger audiences.
Again, these are petty and whiny complaints. I know these are petty and whiny. I may change my mind after I’ve played more, and everyone is entitled to their own opinions. Happy farming!
Image Credits: Story of Seasons