Grab your overalls, we’re going farming. Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is a 3D remake of the classic Game Boy Advance game Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town bringing a much-needed refresh while staying true to the original.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town brings back the nostalgia of childhood while giving you a few updates that make the game worth sitting down for six hours to play in one day, which this author definitely did not do.
It is impossible to start any write up of SoS:FoMT without first throwing back some refreshing nostalgia juice to the original. Developed by Marvelous Interactive, Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town has been widely considered the ultimate entry into the Harvest Moon franchise. Released in 2003 for the Game Boy Advance (and later, the Virtual Console for the Wii U), HM: FoMT received a lot of praise for its wholesome content and rich story.
The sprite work that went into HM: FoMT paved the way for later farming simulators to emulate, giving us that nostalgic feel without feeling outdated graphics-wise. The craving for simpler games of our youth opened the door for a lot of future farming simulators to come to play, including the incredible Stardew Valley and future titles like Littlewood.
Opening up SoS:FoMT felt like opening the door back to my childhood, but with some welcome updates. Instead of a default character, you can choose between a boy or girl. The variation beyond that leaves a lot to be desired however, as you only have 3 hair colors and 3 skin tones to choose from that point. There could have easily been some improvement here as your character really is never shown on screen aside from the small avatar.
This remake also offers a new playstyle option: either Normal mode or a more laid-back mode that starts you with crops and money, giving you an easier time at the beginning. For people who are looking to just escape into a world and skip over being broke, this is a great change that affords that playstyle.
The artwork, characters and areas in FoMT have a nice refresh of their former selves. Gone are our sprites of old and in comes the chibi-style art that is well known in the Story of Seasons franchise. Your cows, chickens and horses are even given the chibi look, with rounded adorable faces that make you want to cuddle them all day. The villagers each have their own looks and stories, with cutscenes abound. I felt like every day I went into a villagers home I hit a cutscene, and that felt refreshing.
One of the biggest qualms I had with the original HM: FoMT was the idea that I had serious FOMO. If you didn’t trigger a certain event on a certain date, you missed the chance for that cutscene. There were times you could “make up” the time for that scene by simply coming back the next day or week, but there were also some cutscenes that would block you from ever viewing again or even missing out on a marriage candidate completely.
Let’s talk about marriage for a second. Unlike the original FoMT, this time around you can marry anyone who is a candidate regardless of sex. This is a very welcome change to the original, which started you out as a young boy who was going to eventually marry a young girl. This opens up a lot of story options and really opens the world. You can get a better insight into each character by seeing their cutscenes and that, in turn, makes the whole village seem bigger.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is a solid remake of the original with a lot of great improvements. That being said, it is still a farming simulator and that is where things do get repetitive.
Routines around the farm start out pretty much the same, until you discover the little hut the Harvest Sprites live in. Once you befriend them, they will assist you with watering and harvesting crops, as well as animal care. As you “play” with your new friends, they become more efficient at their hired jobs and allow you more time to go to the mines, fish, or gather.
You can also easily spend that time schmoozing with the townsfolk: Giving a gift to the Harvest Goddess, chatting it up with your favorite villager or simply going to try to see what cutscenes you’ll encounter, the best part of the game is the interaction with other people in Mineral Town. Some folks, like Kai, are seasonal — while others, like Cliff, may disappear for good if you do not befriend them. You shape the town based on how you interact with everyone, which gives the first year of the game a more organic feel.
At eleven hours currently sunk into the game within two days, I am finding the game to be a welcome repetition. I know what I need to do each day, who I need to give gifts to, and what to do when it rains. If you are looking for something that is dynamic and changes each day, you are absolutely able to do that and still make money. The game opens nearly everything right away: mining, fishing, farming and gathering will all make you some cash.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is a great remake of a classic game many of us hold in our hearts. Staying true to the original does mean that there is a lot of repetition in your day, but anyone familiar with farming sims knows that comes with the territory. All in all, it’s a cute game with quirky characters and will provide you with hours of routine.
Developed by Marvelous Interactive and published by XSEED Games, you can pick the game up on PC through Steam or on the Nintendo Switch.