I’ll happily pile hours into any farming sim that comes my way, especially when it just so happens to be a remake of a game that I loved in my younger years. Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town takes the original Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town on the Game Boy Advance and gives it a modern twist, bringing with it some revitalised visuals and a few additional features. Does it still offer enough charming farming fun to keep up with modern releases seventeen-years on though? Yes… and no.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town sees players taking on the role of either a boy or girl who has inherited a farm that needs a bit of work and attention before it can be restored to its former glory. You’ve heard that one before, right? Well, let’s not forget that Story of Seasons is essentially Harvest Moon, meaning it invented the whole ‘inheriting a farm’ concept that we see so regularly in video games. It might not be a fresh idea, but it’s still as charming now as it was in 2003… why fix what isn’t broken?
Anyone who has played a farming sim before will feel right at home with Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town, with it offering all of the same mechanics that players have seen time and time before. You’ll start off each day as fresh as a fiddle and then spend your time and energy looking after your farm, whether that’s by clearing weeds and stones, planting new crops to grow over the course of the season, tending to your livestock and ensuring they’re fed and happy, or heading over to the nearby town to pick up new supplies or mingle with its inhabitants. It’s certainly a tried-and-tested formula at this point, but it’s one that remains satisfying even seventeen-years on from the game’s original release.
There are plenty of different things that spice things up in Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town, such as the varying seasons that offer different types of crops to harvest, the Sprites that will help you out on your farm provided you’re kind to them first, the money-making side endeavours such as fishing or mining, and all of the various festivals and activities you can dive into in Mineral Town.
That last one is one of the biggest aspects of Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town, with socialising in the town bringing with it a series of charming events and unique festivals that see you bringing food to the town, racing horses, or even putting your chickens to the test… that last one might sound a little wacky, but it all adds to the fun. A lot of these festivals are also tied to the game’s romance options, with the player able to attempt to woo a variety of the town’s best lads and lasses during their farming adventure. It takes a lot of time, attention, and gifts to win the hearts of your potential future husbands or wives, but the effort is worth it when looking to share some romantic moments in-game or when starting to build your virtual little family.
These all make for fun endeavours and there’s a good time to be had in Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town. I’ve poured a ton of hours into the game whilst working through the seasons now and I still haven’t tired of the farming formula – my farm is looking pretty exquisite too and I’m raking in plenty of cash at this point, so there’s no doubting that I’ve earned my place as the top dog of farming in Mineral Town.
Despite this, I couldn’t help but to feel as though Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town isn’t as good as some of the more modern farming-sims available right now. The farming aspects of the game are fun, exploring the town and meeting its citizens is charming, whilst there’s a satisfying sense of progress to be had from expanding your farm… there’s no doubting that it gets all of the basics right. However, more recent releases have fleshed out the experience with extra customisation aspects, offer more intuitive and deep gameplay mechanics to dive into, and even flesh out their world with more expansive locations to explore that are typically full of secrets. Heck, some have even brought multiplayer into the mix, which is something I’d have actually loved to have seen in Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town.
It just demonstrates that Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town can really show its age in places, with the remake a little bit too faithful to the source material and not always offering enough to keep up with more modern takes on the genre. It can just plays everything a bit too safe and by the book, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but does leave the gameplay feeling a bit simple in design in places.
That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have its own merits though, with the game’s presentation particularly standing out. I really love the cutesy visual style and it certainly captures the vibrant spirit of the original game whilst adding a modern twist, whilst the locales you explore all feel colourful and full of life. Add to that some pleasant music to go along with the peaceful setting and it’s easy to see that Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town’s presentation is delightful throughout.
I really enjoyed my time playing Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town, with its farming antics still feeling as fun to play through now as they did back in 2003. It keeps things simple but manages to pack in plenty of charm in both its farming and its socialising aspects… it’s just a very jolly experience.
However, that simplicity can also work against Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town, with modern takes on the genre offering more fleshed out experiences that offer a lot more for the player to do – whether that’s when farming, exploring the nearby town, or even diving into side activities.
Still, if you’re looking for a fresh farming fix with a touch of nostalgia, Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town will certainly offer hours upon hours of entertainment. It might not necessarily be the best farming-sim available, but it still’s still packed to the brim with charm and a whole lot of fun to play.
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC