Sometimes it’s hard to grade a remake. See, the thing with Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is that Harvest Moon is so fucking good. It feels so good to see the money coming in; to sheer a sheep, to collect an egg from a coop, to brush a horse, to harvest crops. Seeing a grey heart turn to purple gives me more serotonin response than most entire games do. It is really impressive to create a gameplay loop full of monotonous tasks that build to a big enough prize to keep me going and going and going. Because of that, it is undeniable: I think Harvest Moon is fucking good. However, Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town kind of stinks.
Now, when judging a remake it’s kind of hard, so let me set some parameters: okay, there’s really, mainly, only one. Has the team behind the remake made the quintessential way to play this game? With a remake, especially one that keeps so true to the gameplay of its origin as much as this game has, you can really only judge on presentation and added content. Now, I can't talk of all the additions to this title except for gay marriage, which legitimately accounts for an entire star of my rating. Mainly so because I honestly can see myself going to past Harvest Moon titles that have romancing only to disinterested in the romance portion of the game because there's no lesbians!
Okay, now presentation. While gay marriage accounts for an entire star being added to the rating, this game's presentation accounts for the missing two stars. The worst thing you can do is make an ugly Harvest Moon game, and from what I’ve seen of Marvelous’ modern work, this installment is far from its worst, but this art style isn’t doing the job for me. It’s that kind of smoothed-over 3D art that just squeezes all the charm out of designs that maybe would be cuter with less polygons, lol. I will say, though, the 2D watercolor-style portraits are really charming. Another big thing is sound design and response; something I can’t really put my finger on, but this is lacking a lot of polish, even disregarding plenty of small glitches that may or may not mostly revolve around navigating tight spaces while nearby an adult horse.
When I got a Playstation Vita, it was mainly in hopes to play, for cheap, all of the Playstation-exclusive JRPGs that had stayed away from Nintendo and Xbox. I played a lot of classics for the first time on that beautiful handheld that had such a thankless job. One of those classics was Harvest Moon: Back to Nature. I played a lot of it just willy-nilly, and the thing about this series is that it is not friendly to casual players (or teens with no sense of a series’ particular vibes). You better have a notebook, ready, motherfucker, and even with a walkthrough at the ready telling me what to give Ann everyday to get her to like me, I just did not have the discipline to live a successful farm life.
So, even though I thought this game, as a remake of one of the quintessential Harvest Moon titles, was just average, it still was such a joy to be able to tackle this as an adult and really develop the fuck out of an anime farm. I was racking up the coin, raising animals that loved me back, and I got freaking gay married, whores!!! It wouldn’t be the first time I sunk a bunch of hours (I had one day where I did 10 hours straight) into a fun game with rough presentation (Fire Emblem: Three Houses), but I wanted to clear this from my backlog, since I’ve had this for nearly two years lol, before getting into older installments that I hear good things about on here. I went through two full years in this game, and I definitely am excited to get into this series a lot more and see what's out there in its past installments after playing this one.