I’m far from experiencing everything Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town has to offer, and I’m happy to admit that so far, it’s living up to my expectations. You return to Mineral Town to take over your late Grandfather’s neglected farm. You must till the land, make the land profitable, and who knows? You may find your soulmate in Mineral Town.
What does that work entail? Everything a farmer typically does, including using a hoe to till soil, breaking up rocks and wood to make way for crops, upgrading your farm buildings, and taking care of your livestock. Every day has it’s own challenges as you learn the shop’s schedules, manage your stamina as you work, and learn the balance between maintaining friendships with the villagers while also making time to improve your farm.
Make no mistake, Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town has all the quaint rustic charm that made the original a classic in 2003, but there are still plenty of things that I miss—especially rival marriages. In the original classic Friends of Mineral Town, there were so many hidden things and extra challenges that you could work towards.
It may not have always been apparent, and you may have had to search for it (or use Google), but there was just so much to accomplish in the original game, so it insistently kept my attention and pushed me to keep playing every time I picked it up. The remake brings back some of this feeling—there’s just so much to do!—but much of the challenge and process of discovery is now lessened.
There are certainly plenty of changes present in this Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town Switch and PC adaptation, notably, the new title since Natsume’s split back in 2014. All of the new changes seem to prepare you to find a groove to settle into. It’s been given a loving amount of polish with a fresh coat of paint for both PC and Nintendo Switch. This is the first time Story of Seasons has been released on desktop with several translations available, but experiencing the game on the Nintendo Switch versus the PC is a solid choice.
Friends of Mineral Town is a quick-hit game. You load it up, play a few minutes (or in my case, hours), save and turn it off. The new art-style and character sprites give a familiar cozy feeling. You could snuggle up with a blanket, some tea, and play on the couch for hours—it makes sense that this game can be traveled with and played at your leisure.
To list but a few changes from the original game, beginning a new life in Mineral Town means choosing a difficulty level, and there are two to choose from: Easy and Normal mode. This helps newer players find their way, and there’s plenty of new tutorials to read through as you progress through the game. Raising livestock is more challenging now, crops have a star quality ranking, and you have plenty of space in the new rucksack—8 slots compared to the original 3!
There are a few things that I wasn’t so keen on. The audio quality balance isn’t too great. The rain is super quiet, the walking volume is all over the place, and collecting items in the Mine forced me to turn my volume down. I’m not too pleased with rival marriage being removed, and I’m even more annoyed that I can go a whole week without caring for my animals, but that’s okay, because they won’t die, and even if they could, Medicine has been removed so there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m not too keen on the level of simplicity in this remake. The changes have made this game too easy.
I wasn’t too much of a fan of the art style at first, but it quickly grew on me. Carter’s robe matches the Goddess that he serves, Manna is as loquacious as ever, and Saibara is the same grumpy old man I remember. The villagers may look different, some of them really different, but their personalities and backstories still shine through in this sweet, charming remake, and I treasure the nostalgic experience this game offers me.
Xseed has done a fantastic job of bringing everything I loved about the Game Boy Advance version to life in 3D, and everything feels smooth and fluid. It’s a joy to clear out your crop fields, the graphics are bright and cute, almost overflowing with friendliness and positivity. You can even dress up in a cow costume if you wish, which only ups the “aww” factor.
Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons has always been about balancing your work and social lives, and Friends of Mineral Town continues to nail this dynamic 17 years later.
Image Credits: Story of Seasons