I must preface this review of Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town with a disclaimer: I am incredibly incompetent and terrible at life simulation games, unfortunately. It’s not exactly being hopeless at the controls – though that in itself is also a problem – but that I generally do not find the appeal in games like these. Still though, it’s a remake of a game in a fan favourite series of life sim games with its own quirky history, so I can give it a fair shake to see if it can capture someone like me.
FARM HAND STARTING OUT
In this Switch remake of the original Game Boy Advance title, you have more options to choosing your player character: the “OG” farmer boy, an alternate boy model and two girl models. Still, it’s pretty limited by modern standards, with the most you can change is your skin colour. You can go to your wardrobe to change outfits, but it’s not the customization heaven that you can get in Stardew Valley.
There are now also “difficulty” options, with the ability to start out with more crops and higher selling price to take life a little easier. The other difficulty is just the regular game. The gameplay loop is pretty simple since it is a life sim in its more or less purest form: till your land, plant crop seeds, care for animals if any, go round town chatting up the residents to gift them things or maybe do some favours, marry someone.
There are new marriage candidates in Brandon and Jennifer, besides the existing cast. New to the remake is also the Best Friends system, essentially the ability to marry someone of the same gender with the Best Friends system. All marriage candidates will have the heart meter show up, so you can start planning who to pursue once you’ve gone around seeing who you like best.
HI, I’M NEW TO TOWN
You can really find yourself drowning in text and tutorials right off the bat. You can access them pretty much at any time at the bookshelf in your home, to familiarize yourself with the basics. Options in general are quite lacking for this game, in regards to text speed and keybinds – at least for the Switch version. It’s not a big strike against the game, but I just had to say I fumbled with them, not being used to it.
Your tools take up a separate inventory, starting with four slots and scrollable on the bottom left of your screen. You can access your tools with the marked box inside and outside your home, and seeds are also considered part of your tools. If your tool selection is full, the item will automatically be sent to your box, so you can mass buy those seeds if you need to without worry.
As you till around, you can find power-ups to increase your stamina, and coins. Doing tasks will gradually level up skills, reminding me of my stint in Rune Factory. I’m not sure if it was just me bumbling around or not, but it felt like time moved really quickly. Maybe it’s just the first day, as the subsequent days seemed more reasonable. The opening times of non-residential buildings are handily written on the boards outside, so there’s no reason for me to stand outside the grocery store on a Tuesday when it says it’s closed except that I don’t know how to read.
The hotspring is very readily accessed, so you can jump to it once you’ve tilled and tossed and watered your crops. Imagine my surprise when I saw that my One (1) turnip seed bag could be tossed on Nine (9) tiles… it’s a lot of work to say the least. The Spring Mine is right next to the hot spring too, so you can go digging like a mad man and recuperate when you return to the surface.
The controls seem a little awkward, but I think I just need to get used to it. Unfortunately, I don’t feel like the gameplay loop is compelling enough for someone like me. I’ve mentioned Rune Factory and Stardew Valley, and I have difficulty playing either game on my own, and Friends of Mineral Town is no different. That isn’t a mark on the game; it simply just isn’t for me. I cannot offer suggestions as to how what could help me commit: I do like quests to set a goal, but isn’t one of the appeals of these “casual” life sims is the lack of them?
My personal feelings aside, it’s not a bad game at all. I find separating the tools and inventory really nice, so the anguish of the limited space of your first backpack doesn’t feel as bad as it could have been. You can toss things into the selling bin, and actually confirm the items you want to hawk off, instead of dropping it in and realizing your mistake a second later. You can also save at any point in time without having to trek back home in a panic if your battery is running low or someone’s yelling at you to put down your game.
The art has been updated, and the 2D art is all pretty cute and appealing. The 3D models feel a little off for me, but your mileage may vary. All in all, if you’re already a fan of Story of Seasons, there’s no reason for you not to get this remake of Friends of Mineral Town, especially if you’re keen on wooing your favourite resident as the same gender (bros for life, gal pals).
|Best Friends system to woo same gender resident||Customization lacking for a modern-day title|
|Upgraded graphics||If you’re not already a fan, it’s probably an easy skip|
|Handy QOL updates|