I have a strong affinity with the Game Boy Advanceâ€™s Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town. It was my go-to for a gaming fix back when I had an office job, being the perfect way to spend 15 minutes. Tend to the crops, forage in the wild, talk to the townsfolk, and then tuck in for the night. I dare say it spent more time in my trusty GBA than Advance Wars and Golden Sun combined.
You can imagine my delight, then, to discover the next entry in the Story of Seasons series is a full-on remake of Friends of Mineral Town. While it has received a 3D makeover, complete with subtle distance blurring and redrawn character portraits, it follows the original closely. The town layout remains identical, while the wilderness even has harvestable items in the same location as the 2003 original. The rearranged music, meanwhile, will be instantly recognisable to long-time fans.
Clearly intended to appeal to a new generation, this remake has a few welcome quality of life improvements. The controls scheme is perfectly suited to the Switch, using the d-pad to cycle through tools and the right analogue to cycle through the inventory. The tutorials are clearer, with some extra hints/recaps for newcomers, and when using tools all dropped items are now â€˜magneticallyâ€™ drawn to your character. Thereâ€™s a new simple mode too, which provides a few turnips plots, extra gold and a few other luxuries.
For the uninformed, Harvest Moon games entail taking over a rundown farm and restoring it to former glory, making friends along the way by attending special events. It shares a few similarities with Animal Crossing, including the ability to upgrade your homestead, and a day/night cycle. The main difference, other than the focus on farming, is that it isnâ€™t in real-time â€“ tucking in for the night brings on the next day, allowing you to progress freely.
Each season has its challenges, including a lack of rain during summer and the inability to grow crops during winter, prompting you to fall back on mining, fishing, and foraging.
One gripe we have so far is that the dialogue still adheres to 2003 standards â€“ characters donâ€™t have much to say other than typical everyday pleasantries. When interacting with objects, descriptions are irritatingly literal too. Thankfully, it seems the development team has corrected the numerous translation errors from the original. The US version, at least, was littered with errors. Our favourite was the use of the word â€˜flowerâ€™ instead of â€˜flourâ€™.
Weâ€™re also hoping for a few new surprises along the way. Fresh faces are promised, which we are yet to run into during our playthrough â€“ weâ€™re about to enter summer, and still have much more to discover. If memory serves, pineapples were summerâ€™s most lucrative racket…
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town launches 10th July on Switch.