Story of Seasons (3DS)

SEASONS_BOXSpring is in full bloom, and what better way to celebrate than with a video game about being down on the farm?  One of the most beloved farm simulation titles, Harvest Moon, has found a new publisher, and therefore, a new name, too.  Now called Story of Seasons, the game provides all the farming goodness you’d expect from this long-running series.  In the game, you move to Oak Tree Town to start up a farm, raise crops and livestock, and help increase trade in the town as well as make a few friends along the way.

One thing I noticed right away after opening the box is that the game comes with a well-written, full color instruction booklet.  That may not seem important to some people, but games hardly ever come with instructions anymore, and I find them most helpful and appreciated.  Anyway, much of this game is like others in the series.  You’ll grow crops and harvest them, as well as take care of livestock on your farm.  In your spare time you can catch bugs, befriend wild animals, swim, and go fishing.  The fruits, vegetables, and flowers you grow, as well as products from livestock (milk, eggs, and wool) can be used in a variety of ways.  You can sell them to make money, or combine them in recipes to cook food, make clothes, build structures, or give them as gifts.

Speaking of which, there are many fun and colorful people in the town you can talk to, such as a TV news weather lady, a novelist, and more.  By giving them gifts and befriending them, you might get special items in return.  Also, just as in other games in this series, you can date and even marry one of several eligible bachelors or bachelorettes who live in the town (Farmer Man Cary is leaning towards Iris the novelist).  There’s so many things you can do in this game that there is no way I can list them all!

Time progresses in this game in its own time cycle. Each ‘day’ lasts about ten minutes, and you’ll have to manage your time to get everything done, from watering crops, tending livestock, socializing in town, and more! There are four months in a ‘year,’ each representing a different season. You’ll grow different crops in each season, as well as find new bugs to nab, fish to catch, and festivals to attend.  Just make sure to watch your stamina meter and not overwork yourself or stay out too late, or you may oversleep or get sick!  If you do, get some medicine at the clinic.

Story of Seasons has a few new features for the series.  The main one is the farming guild in town.  At the guild, you can rent and even compete for extra farm field space, which lets you grow crops from different seasons (handy for when you need a crop that you can’t grow right then).  The guild also lets you manage online features like StreetPass, which lets you visit other farms, or online multiplayer where you can visit others and help them out on their farm and give presents.

Unfortunately, the game does have some small problems here and there.  First, this is one of the slowest games in the series (maybe not as slow as the ones on the Wii, though).  The first full week you don’t even get to see your farm, just do tutorials.  While this may be fine for beginners, players more familiar with the series may want things to move at a faster pace.  Luckily you can set between two different difficulties at the start.  Also, I found one of the major changes to this game a bit annoying.  The guild also runs a trade depot and this is how you sell your crops and other products.  In the past you could just put them in a box near your fields, but now you have to walk into town and shops may not even be there that day.  That can slow down your cash flow and fill up your bag quickly.  Luckily, later on more shops will open up and you can even set up your own, but it sure does drag on in the beginning!

But other than that, this is still a pretty decent entry in this beloved series.  It may have a new name and publisher now, but it’s just as good as it ever was.  Fans of past Harvest Moon titles, as well as Animal Crossing games, should check this one out.


Kid Factor:

Story of Seasons is rated E-10 with ESRB descriptors of Alcohol Reference, Mild Suggestive Themes, and Violent References.  You can make wine from grapes that you grow on your farm.  Since you can date and marry other townsfolk, there is some mild suggestive topics in the text, but most of it is presented in a campy way.  The story line has some violent references in the text as well, but nothing is ever shown and that happens way later in the game anyway so you may not even read it.  Strong reading skills are needed for all the text, as well as lots of patience, so it’s better enjoyed by older kids anyway.  The game could be considered somewhat educational, however, as it teaches time management and money skills, as well as facts on agriculture.

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