STORY OF SEASONS: Friends of Mineral Town is coming to both Nintendo Switch and PC, this time sporting a brand-new look. A faithful remake of 2003’s Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town (though without the name), how does STORY OF SEASONS: Friends of Mineral Town compete with the many farming and life simulations already on the market?
STORY OF SEASONS: Friends of Mineral Town follows the tried-and-tested story of having inherited your grandfather’s farm which you’re to restore to its former glory. The key difference here is that the Game Boy version of Friends of Mineral Town was one of the first to do this, which in turn inspired the likes of Stardew Valley, My Time At Portia, Farm Together and more. It’s nice to be playing a remake of the original and know you’re essentially playing the one that started it all, especially since I left my Game Boy back in the early 2000s.
Though STORY OF SEASONS: Friends of Mineral Town doesn’t really do much to expand on its story, it’s still charming, despite not offering anything new.
The style of STORY OF SEASONS: Friends of Mineral Town is where the game really shines. The 3D models are definitely a step up from the Game Boy era, with a bright and colourful palette that makes the game really stand out. Everything from the oversized cows to the various crops is packed full of charm and character, making this a truly cute and classic experience for gamers of all ages. (I’m a huge fan of the fat cows, especially).
Tasked with upgrading your new farm, you’ll need to plant and harvest crops, tend to your animals, make friends with the villagers and – if you choose to – settle down and get married. There’s a lot of what you’d expect to keep you busy here, whether you’re fishing, mining or cooking, but there’s some extra goodies to be uncovered too.
Making friends with the Harvest Sprites can earn you some extra helping hands as your farm grows, but it also opens up the opportunity to take part in some farm-related mini games. There’s also regular community events to enjoy with the townsfolk, including horse racing, cooking competitions and even a wooliest-animal contest. These are lots of fun, though some of the events are less interactive than others. Still, they help to keep the game ticking along with something to look forward to a few times a month.
The gameplay of STORY OF SEASONS: Friends of Mineral Town is comfortable doing exactly what it says on the tin, and doesn’t try to push the boundaries with anything particularly groundbreaking. You’ll recognise most of the gameplay features from other farming sims (though, of course, this is a remake of the game which made them famous). It’s follows pretty closely to the original Harvest Moon FoMT, despite its graphical upgrade.
STORY OF SEASONS: Friends of Mineral Town is, as expected, a very engrossing, addictive and charming game which will keep you coming back for more. There’s always “just one more thing” you want to do before switching off the console, which sucks you into a wormhole that you won’t want to leave.
Though the features are all familiar, there’s a lot to get stuck into, and the opening few “weeks” of the game are much less of a grind than, say, Stardew Valley.
Accessibility options within the game are minimal, though there’s still some settings you can tweak to suit your needs. Things like the Guide Icon, which can be toggled on and off to make the game a little easier or harder, are a welcome addition.
Starting a new game will also give you some difficulty options with either “Simple Mode” or “Normal Mode.” The former offers buffs like being able to sell items for more money, and make friends easier, which is nice to see for more inexperienced players.
STORY OF SEASONS: Friends of Mineral Town reimagines the classic adventure with a fresh new look. The game still retains the charm of the original, and if you’re new to farming sims then you can’t go wrong here.
However, for those used to the farm life, there’s not quite enough new content on offer to keep you coming back for more. The game didn’t spark the nostalgia of the first game for me because its graphical overhaul gives it an entirely new feel. On the flip side, the gameplay, story and mechanics stick with the predictable and well-trodden tropes that farming games are now known for.
If you were a huge fan of the original, or if you’ve never before played a farming sim, this will be right up your alley. If, however, you know your Portia from your Stardew, you won’t find anything new here.
STORY OF SEASONS: Friends of Mineral Town releases on Nintendo Switch and PC, July 14th.
STORY OF SEASONS: Friends of Mineral Town was reviewed on Nintendo Switch, with one full in-game year played.
Note: GameByte is currently working with Marvelous Inc. on a paid campaign which is not affiliated with this review. To protect the integrity of this review – and to ensure our writer hasn’t been influenced in any way, shape or form – we’ve ensured that this review and the campaign work have not been created by the same team members, or discussed with others in the team.