Story of Seasons is a series that has been around since SNES times. Originally known under another more familiar name, Friends of Mineral Town is here to prove the same engine runs under this new shell.
So Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is a remake of a remake of a remake. Originally releasing on the Playstation 1 as “Back to Nature” then the more commonly known remake “Friends of Mineral Town” on the Gameboy Advance before being remade again here!.
The set up here is a familiar one, you receive a letter regarding a relative who has passed away and left you their farm. You turn up and reminisce about your childhood there, then you do what’s right and decide to kick start the farm and bring it back to its former glory.
Don’t go in expecting some epic tale similar to the last farming title I covered (Rune Factory 4), Friend of Mineral town is more slice of life & stopping to smell the flowers.
A lot of the time you’ll form your own narrative, making choices who to romance, what needs doing on your farm, if you want to participate in the festivities and how you should spend your day.
The visuals in Friends of Mineral Town are a bit of a mixed bag. While the colours give the game all the warm it always had and looks just as endearing as ever, the character models just look cheap. While the animals have the look of the series, the characters look like poor imitations of the art work and feel soulless in a game that should be full of soul and good feelings.
The music in Mineral Town is as inoffensive and pleasant as ever. You’ll hear alot of the same tracks over your playtime and it helps that they don’t irritate and often stay with you, humming tunes while you sort out your real life chores!.
So the gameplay is standard for the series, maybe you’ve played Story of Seasons on the 3DS or one of the classic ones on other genres under a different name. Despite having a name change a few years back, the soul, the quality and genuine good times have never left Story of Seasons. Friends of Mineral Town is no exception, to a fault at times.
You start your farm either empty or with a few starter crops to help you get going depending on your chosen difficulty. You’ll then spend the first couple of days, tidying your farm, getting together some tools and meeting the residents of Mineral Town.
At the start you’ll find it tough to balance your jobs, social life and stamina bar as you get used to farming life. Fortunately you can replenish this by eating, bathing, sleeping or medicine, you can even give yourself more stamina by finding hidden berries around the map.
There is something utterly cathartic about managing your time correctly, seeing your crops grow and harvesting them for a big pay day, just so you can do it all over again with more.
To help break things up a little bit there are regular festivals, these are social events but sometimes offer challenges to really push your farming skills. There are also a bunch of friendly Elfs you can play with in simple mini games and they will reward you with help on your farm.
Slight quality of life improvements here make the game more playable, the ability to save anywhere furthers its pick up and play appeal and the fact a cursor now shows where you’re aiming your tool makes a whole world of difference.
Alongside the farming there is also the social aspect of Friends of Mineral Town. Every resident has their own life they are living and over time you’ll become friendlier with them, some you can even romance!. Part of the hook of this series is picking the perfect partner but here is where the game really shows its age.
While character development is somewhat common place nowadays, back when Friends of Mineral Town dropped it was one of its selling points. You’ll shower your chosen partner with gifts and read the same lines of text day in, day out until it changes. Eventually you’ll hit marriage and your romantic pursuits will be complete, at least for this save file!.
The character development pacing is very old school in this title and can feel like a real grind at times. It’s a fair distraction from purely farming just don’t expect it to be a fully-fledged social sim!.
Now I played a lot of Story of Seasons on the GameBoy and then the Friends of Mineral Town on GBA, while it is great to be back and having memories thrown at me everytime, outside of QoL changes this is a fairly faithful remake, outside of the Same sex marriage now being an option I haven’t really come across any new content.
The above is fine if you’re just after a trip down memory lane but there are a fair amount of alternatives that may seem a little more appealing in terms of price and content options. If you have history in Mineral Town it is a fantastically faithful return trip but for those without roots there the experience may come off a little shallow.
A welcome but underwhelming addition to the remake onslaught, won’t fail to churn up nostalgia but sadly doesn’t go the extra mile.