Back in the day, Harvest Moon was quite the SNES novelty. Essentially it was an RPG that didn’t involve any combat or adventure – you farmed, you got married, maybe you had a kid. Today, that’s not really such a new thing anymore thanks to games like Farmville, but that doesn’t mean we’re not seeing more farm-’em-ups coming out; just the opposite, in fact, since today we’re going to take a look at Story of Seasons for the 3DS.
Story of Seasons is the latest in the Harvest Moon series of games, even if the name is different for some reason or another. This means you’re not going to kill a single orc in this game. You aren’t going to cast any spells, either. Instead, the weapon you wield will be a watering can and you’ll employ the magic of country living. Yup: you’re a farmer.
Life as a farmer takes the same shape that it usually does in these games. You’re going to live in a small town, growing and selling crops and animal products in order to make mad bank. You can also cook, swim, furnish and woo in whatever order you please, allowing you to eventually become a married, well-housed four-star chef swimmer…or something. Point is, it’s a lot like previous Harvest Moon games. It’s even got a nice, long, boring tutorial to endure – just like the classics!
Aside from being able to hop around, there’s a few other twists that merit mention. You can jump in this one, that’s pretty neat, for instance. Seriously, though, one of the most significant changes that Story of Seasons makes to the farm-’em-up formula is the new model used for shipping crops and other items. Instead of just tossing your junk into a trunk and having money come in the next day, now you’ll have to wheel and deal with merchants visiting from other countries.
This means adhering to their schedules – if nobody’s there to buy something, you’re not selling it – and paying attention to market rates for your goods in order to ensure that you’re getting the best price. This is a welcome change to the junk-in-the-trunk system and offers a bit more involvement with commerce than previous titles.
Farming itself is also a bit changed up. Tools work on a 3×3 square by default now, meaning that doing chores is, uh, less of a chore. You can also work on farms other than your own, allowing you to grow crops that aren’t in season. Mostly, though, this is the same game you’ve been playing for years now, just given a nice coat of polish and tossed on the latest and greatest handheld.
That polish does go a pretty decent way, for what it’s worth. So far as I could tell, the text is as well-translated as it’s ever been, the art is nice and the game is easy to enjoy. The only quibble I had was the odd framerate drop, particularly during outdoor scenes. Yes, framerate drops. In a farming game. How? Got me. Unlike a lot of 3DS games, this isn’t related to having 3D turned on, so I suppose it’s just an optimization issue.
Framerate issues aside, Story of Seasons is a decent addition to the Harvest Moon franchise even if it’s not going to admit it. There’s more than enough to do here that even newbie (digital) farmers will keep going for quite some time. If you’re over Animal Crossing and you’re looking to go back to sweet old country living, well, Story of Seasons just might do the trick.