In a year that is full of chaos, sometimes it is nice to head back somewhere familiar and safe. So that’s why for the past several months I have been looking forward to the Switch port of Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town. Though I never played the original Game Boy Advance version (back when it was still called Harvest Moon), the series is one that has always been a happy spot within a hectic world.
We all need a little bit of calm to latch onto and that’s what this series represents, and this port brings everything from the original. In a month that has been dominated by the release of some pretty intense gaming experiences, Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is exactly the change of pace I needed.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch – 30FPS
A Updated Classic Story of Seasons Game
So much of the charm that we’ve come to expect from this long running series is present here. The soothing music as you walk around. The opportunity to tackle whatever chores and avenues of income that you want. The colourful characters who populate Mineral Town. The “Just One More Day” bits of gameplay that keep you up till 2am. It’s the kind of thing we’ve come to expect from every Story of Seasons game and these are the things that the game does in such excellent ways.
Some of the features, however, might seem somewhat jarring for people more used to the mechanics and pacing of Stardew Valley. Instead of needing to build the farm from scratch, buildings like the barn, coop, and stable are already present, allowing for animal products to be produced within weeks of starting the game, depending on how you prioritise your spending.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town does have a handful of new features and content. Most exciting, however, is the presence of same-sex marriages in the game. This is a first for the series and even a departure from the original Japanese version. While same-sex couples could exist before the Western version, they were not referred to as married and were instead called “Special Friends”, despite having the same wedding ceremony and mechanics.
The localisation team took the decision to update this language to “Married”, a rare move that wouldn’t be allowed by most localisation teams but one that I’m really glad that they pushed for. It is a small detail that both makes the series feel more current and is a great example of how changing the language used can make something much more inclusive.
Some Dated Mechanics
As much as I have enjoyed this game, there are a few parts that have been less than stellar for me so far. The mining mechanic, which is how you obtain the materials needed to upgrade your tools, is a product of its time and makes trips into the mine feel tedious. Having to break rocks first to obtain ore and then use the hoe to till the ground to reveal the way down is something that I feel is handled better in more modern games.
Another small detail that I noticed while playing is that the music would pause while it was raining. Normally I would welcome the atmospheric change in audio, focusing on the sound of the rain, but because the music is such a highlight of the Story of Seasons series it felt somewhat jarring when it changed so quickly.
There is a lot to love about this game. If you’re a fan of the surprisingly popular farming-simulator/RPG genre, then picking up Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town for the Nintendo Switch or the PC is a pretty solid bet to keep you entertained. While parts of it feel dated at times, all the charm and joy that the series brings to the table are there so it is worth picking up.