I think this time of year is perfect for simulation games. That might sound a little silly, when the back half of the year is usually packed with lots of exciting and anticipated titles. However, it’s also the time of year with the most holidays, which means a lot of rushing and dealing with people and general stress. What better way to unwind than with a cozy game that lets you plant crops or run around catching fish and bugs? And with an adorably famous manga kitty? What could be better?
Luckily, Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom is here just in time for these stressful few months to provide some much needed chillaxing.
Join Doraemon, Noby, and friends as they go on adventure to escape nagging parents and end up in Illuma, an Earth-like planet. There they find an injured boy named Lumis, and after helping him out, he tells them about his father’s farm. It’s rundown and in need of a lot of work, but Lumis’s moving story about his father’s dream of peace and unity for Illuma convince Noby and the gang to stay and help restore the place. Over the summer (and beyond,) Noby sets out to clear the land, plow the fields, and spend the days farming, fishing, and enjoying the strange new world they’ve found.
If you’ve ever played a farming simulator like Stardew Valley, Harvest Moon, or Story of Seasons, you’re familiar with the gameplay of Doraemon Story of Seasons. A hefty chunk of your time will be spent working around the farm. You start off with a basic set of tools: a hoe, axe, hammer, sickle, and watering can. Using these, you can clear the farming plot of stray rocks, weeds, branches, and trees, and then plow the land to plant seeds. As you clear the land, you’ll find building materials that can be used to expand your farm and fix up facilities.
After planting your crops, you’ll need to tend to them daily by watering and fertilizing them, and then you can harvest them! Crops you harvest, as well as fish and bugs you catch and items you find around, can be put in a crate at the end of the day to be exchanged for money. You know, to help you buy more seeds and things!
In addition to farming, there’s plenty of things for you to explore. Each part of town has shops to wander into and friends to meet; there’s a general store and livestock barn, a tackle shop, a smithy…anything a budding agriculturalist could ever need. Exploring these other areas will help you get a pickax, bug net, and fishing rod as well. These things are great for helping you generate revenue. You’ll want to make sure to get them early on.
However, not everything is perfect in Doraemon land. Things can get pretty stale after a while; mining and fishing especially, as you simply click and click and click in the same spot until you (hopefully) find something good. Traveling from place to place can also be a bit tedious. There’s not much to do along the paths beyond look at the scenery, and those walks become pretty draining after a while with nothing to spice them up.
Thankfully, there’s a few helpful additions to get your farm work done a little faster. Noby can enlist the help of his friends – Sue, Sneech, and Big G – to complete tasks like planting and tending to crops, fishing, and mining. There’s also a local co-op that allows a second player to play as Doraemon so you can farm together, and it works well, especially later in the game when things get a little more intense. A number of fancy machines have also been provided, such as a Mini Raincloud and an Adapting Ray (which allows for deep sea diving!), that give you ways to break up the monotony of farming and provide new places to explore.
There’s also the visual novel aspect of the game. There is an overarching story throughout the game that focuses on Noby and his friends having to earn the trust of the queen to make it back home, as well as them coming to understand their parents a little more as they spend time in Illuma. There are several long cutscenes and animations throughout the game that tell this story. Most are skippable, though the story is really one of the more adorable parts of the game. Noby and his pals are charming. However, it’s not for everyone and probably could have used a little trimming down to make them more digestible.
In addition to being a beautiful game with beautiful, watercolor visuals and a great ambient sound, Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom is also a pretty good farming simulator. Fans of the genre will most likely find it enjoyable, and the story will delight Doraemon fans wanting to see the characters in action once again. It does have a lot of quality of life updates over its predecessor, making it easier and more fun to play with better controls and more things to do, but can still feel a little tedious during traveling, mining, and fishing. Still, this is a fun, easygoing experience for all ages where the few bumps aren’t nearly enough to hinder your enjoyment of the farm life.