With so much time spent with farming simulations inspired by Story of Seasons, it can be a bit of a shock to return to the original and realize how different it can be. Nuances can be forgotten and someone might not realize how much a game has changed. With the Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town Switch and PC remake, we have a modern remake of Game Boy Advance entries. In a person’s earliest steps forward, it can mean relearning how to play and seeing how things have changed.
To start, beginning a new life in Mineral Town means choosing a difficulty level. There are two. Normal assumes you’ve farmed before and lets you start from scratch. However, there is also a Simple Mode option. The difference is a little extra help in a 2,500G nest egg, 18 already-planted turnips in your field, knowing Zack is going to pay you slightly more for items you ship, and relationships go up slightly faster. To offer an idea of how big of a difference that can be, I tried one month of Simple Mode. I had Cliff and Gray up to Purple Heart levels of affection, Brandon at a Blue Heart, had purchased the first bag upgrade, gotten my four initial tools to the bronze level, and used that early “seed” money to invest in cabbages for an eventual 11,000 profit.
But, even if you take into account that little extra leg up, Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town isn’t the sort of game to coddle people. Rather, on both difficulty levels it keeps someone’s ambitions in check and makes them work to progress. As a novice with no farming experience, your bag only has room for four tools and eight normal items. Your stamina and status is represented by berries, a face icon, and numbers. When you perform farming or work-related activities, this drops, and early on each action affects one square or only works on the smallest items. Even with the hot springs nearby, probably about a half-hour walk away, it can take over an hour to start to recuperate. It lends to the feeling on an inexperienced person who really is just starting out.
It means planning a routine and plotting out each day becomes a necessity in a way it might not have been in games inspired by it. You have to take into account how time moves here again. You watch how much stamina each action takes, counting down the exact points. You learn schedules, so as to not waste time running around when you don’t need it. You prioritize purchases. Then, as you start to build things up, you get a chance to branch out and add more layers.
But even as you do, there’s a comfort in knowing how things have changed to make things a bit easier. For example, Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is always showing you how much stamina you have. You have a face icon, berries, numbers, and your character goes through certain animations as they hit certain major markers and run out of steam. Your tools are easily cycled through with the left d-pad, and you can see all items in your bag at once on the left with the right analog stick cycling through them. In the menu, you know how much stamina items will restore and see how much experience tools have. You even have an idea of the affection levels of secret marriage candidates if you filter by affection levels, as it will show their placement among others even though you can’t see their hearts.
There are certainly plenty of changes present in this Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town Switch and PC adaptation. Some of them make it easier to wade back into the simulation. Others help you keep track of how much you’ll be able to do. All of it seems to prepare you to find a groove to settle into.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town will come to the Nintendo Switch in Australia and Europe on July 10, 2020 and the Nintendo Switch in North America and PC worldwide on July 14, 2020. It is immediately available on the console in Japan.