STORY OF SEASONS: Friends of Mineral Town is a remake of a GameBoy Advance game called Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town, which is itself a remake of Harvest Moon: Back to Nature, which was one of my favorite games in the series so I was excited to try this new remake on the Switch. For anyone who doesn’t know, Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons were the same series until 2014 when Marvelous took over localizing the games under the Story of Seasons name while Natsume kept the Harvest Moon name and developed their games under it. I don’t know what it is that I love about the simple gameplay of these farming sim games, but ever since I played Harvest Moon: Back to Nature on the original PlayStation, I have loved almost all of them.
The game starts with asking if you would like to play as a boy or girl and then you get to both name them and pick their birthday. One new thing added was the option to pick from an Easy or Normal mode in which playing on Easy starts you off with more money and you earn more money when your produce ships. The game is already a fairly laid-back experience and easy in its own right so I don’t see the need for this, but it’s there for anyone who wants it. The story itself is just as I remembered it: you inherit your grandfather’s farm after he passes away in which you have memories of visiting once when you were a child. Now? Now you own it.
The farm is a bit of a mess to start with. There are rocks, logs, stumps, and weeds all over the place. You can clear up the weeds by picking them up and shipping them though you don’t get much money for them or you can use your sickle to cut them. Logs can be cut with an axe and rocks can be smashed with a hammer but you will have to upgrade them to get rid of the bigger ones. Once you clean a bit of space you can use the little bit of money you start with to buy seeds at the shop and plant them and water them. Using tools will earn you experience with that tool and once you level up you can upgrade that tool at the forge for some money and the right ore.
You can get ore by mining and the deeper you go in the mine, the rarer the ore you will find. At first, it will be hard to go very far as you only have so much stamina and fatigue before you collapse and have to spend a day at the clinic. You can restore stamina and fatigue by using the hot spring and or by eating food that you have on hand. To further help with this, you can upgrade your house so you’ll have a kitchen to cook in and make your own food but you could always visit the inn and have a bite to eat there too. In a pinch you can also eat your foods raw, but it gives less than if you ate something that was cooked.
Like the other games in the franchise, you can also raise animals such as chickens that can lay eggs every day as long as you keep them happy and healthy by feeding them and talking to them. There are cows you can milk, sheep that you can shear for wool, and plenty of others like alpacas and Angora rabbits! You are also given a young horse near the beginning of the game that you can raise into adulthood unless you’ve taken bad care of it. If you didn’t take care of it then you may lose it, but if you do a good job in taking care of the horse, you will be able to keep it and ride it around town! You also get to name all the animals on your farm making you feel a little more attached to the animals you care for.
There are other things to do besides farming, you can make friends with the townsfolk and as you get to know them better, events will trigger telling you a bit of their story. For the bachelors & bachelorettes out there, you can fall in love with and it doesn’t matter if you’re playing a boy or a girl, there is same-sex marriage in this game for the first time in the series. There are six girls and six boys to fall for each with their own personalities.
Another thing you can do is participate in holiday festivals; every month has its own holidays and you can play mini-games while doing it. One of the spring festivals was a horse race you can gamble on or win prizes from, and if you have an adult horse on your farm, you can even race! Each month is a season so there are only four months in a year in the game Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Besides the festivals, every town’s person has a birthday and you can give them a gift if you wish. You can cook once you have a kitchen, go fishing, gather resources like wood and stone to upgrade your house, coop, or barn to hold more animals. You can even watch TV!
By watching TV I actually mean read the TV as Friends of Mineral Town only shows text of what the show is saying and doing, but there are four channels to pick from. You have a Weather channel that tells you the weather the next day, Education channel that gives tips on playing the game, a News channel that tells you what’s happening that month and lastly, the Entertainment channel that gives you a show each day (one day is a cooking show that will teach you new recipes to a show where a boy and girl with the same name swap bodies). Each episode doesn’t take too long to read so it’s fun to see what these shows are about.
There are multiple shops and places to go in town each with their own hours and days they are closed, so planning is a must if you need more seeds from the general store, or if you need feed for your animals or such; luckily the map makes it super easy to see when a store is opened or closed. The farm map also helps you with seeing where your animals are and what each crop is that you planted. Animals can be put outside to graze and you won’t have to feed them, just don’t put them out on rainy days. The game automatically puts the animals back where they belong at 8 pm each day and this is super helpful as I remember it being a bit of a pain in the original game trying to put your animals back in the barn.
If you get tired of doing all the work on the farm yourself you can befriend nature sprites and have them work on your farm. They can not only water, harvest and ship crops, but they can take care of animals for you as well! As they work they will get better at the things you have them do. There is just so much to see and do in the game and like in real life there is not enough time in a day to do it all, and with what is all packed into STORY OF SEASONS: Friends of Mineral Town, a game day goes by fast (though time does stop when you are inside buildings, so that’s nice).