Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Simulation
Publisher: Marvelous (EU), XSEED Games (US)
Release Date: July 14, 2020 (US), July 10, 2020 (EU)


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Switch/PC Preview - 'Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on June 29, 2020 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is a complete remake that lets series fans revisit the charming world of Mineral Town, while also introducing it to a new generation of farmers.

Pre-order Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town

The original Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town was a delightful game, especially for the Gameboy Advance. Packed with content, it retains a solid following to this day. The Harvest Moon title might be gone, but Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town looks to retain all the delightfully enjoyable elements of the original game, mixed with some updates and new content to make sure the title remains fresh for newcomers.

Friends of Mineral Town is a pure Story of Seasons game without any gimmicks or crossovers. Even the story is a simple — you are given a farm, and now you must … farm — with little else in the way of setup. Friends of Mineral Town for the Game Boy Advance was a fantastic example of Story of Seasons boiled down to its best elements, and Friends of Mineral Town for the Nintendo Switch looks to be in the same vein. You'll farm, you'll upgrade your houses, you'll make friends, raise animals, and of course get married — all as the Story of Seasons franchise popularized over the years.

Speaking of marriage, one of the new features in the game is an expanded marriage system. There are two new potential marriage candidates who help expand the usual list of potential spouses. Jennifer is a "back to nature" hippie girl who loves the outdoors, while Brandon is a slightly taciturn woodcutter and artist. More significantly, there is no longer a gender lock on marriage. Players who choose a male or female avatar can marry any of the potential spouses, a feature long requested in the franchise. It may sound like a small addition, but for Story of Seasons fans, it offers a lot more flexibility and choice, which is the most important part of the games. The title also offers two different choices of character for each gender as well as customizable skin tone and clothing options. It's not quite a create-a-character, but it provides gives more control.

Another big addition to the game is a total overhaul of the UI. The original was a GBA offering and suffered from those limitations, but the new version has a much more convenient interface. The controls are smoother and less fiddly. There is now an easily accessible hotbar to quickly switch between tools or items in your inventory. Features like stamina/fatigue are now shown by default instead of requiring an upgrade. Most of these may not seem like a huge upgrade to people who have kept up with the franchise, but they're a major leap forward. The ability to water crops in a 3x3 grid without having to leave a space is a massive boon.

Friends of Mineral Town also brings over some of the other new features from other games, such as an expanded range of farm animals that you can raise and take care of. These include multiple variations of alpacas, angora rabbits, chickens, cows (including "coffee" and "strawberry") and sheep. Careful care means you have a wider variety of things to ship and potentially use for recipes. Crops now also have star-ranking qualities, which means they can increase in value as you master farming, in addition to new crops. A lot of the features are similar (I was able to use strategies that were similar to what I used in the original GBA version), but there are enough new features here to keep it from feeling like a shinier port.

All in all, Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town looks to be a rock-solid remake of one of Harvest Moon's most enjoyable experiences. The core gameplay isn't necessarily complex, but it makes up for that by being a relaxing Animal Crossing-style pick-up-and-play title. Assuming the full game lives up to what we've played thus far, Harvest Moon or Story of Seasons fans will be pleased when Friends of Mineral Town hits the PC and Switch on July 14.

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