By: Rachel Frederick
If anyone is a Harvest Moon fan like myself, then Story of Seasons is the game for you. If you only played the Harvest Moon 64 game, this is the game for you. Essentially, this game is such a great game that you can have a lot or just a short amount of experience with games similar to this and still enjoy it. This game has given so many new features that were never seen in any of the Harvest Moon series, such as being able to swim and dive in the river. As well, it gives you more freedom to build your own buildings and place everything on the farm as you see fit, which is a feature you can also use within the house as well, allowing you to use your own interior decorating skills.
Some may be wondering if this is a Harvest Moon game, and if it is, why it is no longer titled that. This new game is created by the same company of most Harvest Moon games, as it is owned by Victor Interactive Software, or VIS, who started publishing these games in Japan in 1996, titling them Bokujou Monogatari. When this company was looking for a North American publisher to release this game in English, they teamed up with Natsume, who changed the name to Harvest Moon for the American versions. However, during this time, VIS had merged with another company known as Marvelous Entertainment, now just known as Marvelous.
Marvelous eventually bought another company, called Xseed, and that company could create the English versions of the Japan-published games. The company then decided to use this new company, but Natsume had the copyright for the title Harvest Moon which is why the game may look and have many similarities, including some characters appearances from Harvest Moon: A Tale of two Towns but at the same time has almost a more mature feel to it, where the characters do not look as childish as they have in the past.
Now as a huge fan of these games myself, it was easy to jump in and start doing what I know–farming, ranching, and wooing a potential husband. However, this game gives people who may not have a background into this game the ability to choose casual play, which lowers the prices down for a lot of things that you need in order to advance the game, and gives you a quicker chance to be successful. That being said, it is still quite easy to be successful in the normal mode as well. The addition of easy or normal modes seem to be happening all around, but I think for a game like this, it is very beneficial and could help the company get more loyal followers such as myself.
An exciting new twist to this game is the fields. Gone are the days of wasting your character’s energy on tilling one area to put one seed in at a time. Instead, they have made it so when you start tilling the ground 9 spots come up right away, and one bag of seeds fills that area nicely. This also helps you make money quickly because you are taking away at least 9 vegetables or fruits every time. The watering can also follows this pattern of getting all nine squares, which in my opinion was really smart for this game because it takes away the frustration of watering huge successful fields. As well, this game gives you the opportunity to rent many fields in public spaces as well, you have to fight with the other farmers in order to get that field, but once you have it, you can have many different fields to help you make money. Another bonus is the safari park. You do not get the opportunity to go to it till the fall, but once you do it is a whole other area with expensive stones that can help you make money quite quickly.
One of the drawbacks of this game is trying to start a family. You have to go through all the events with whomever you are pursuing, and then you have to build a sewing shed in order to make a ring, because that’s logical. However, I do like the idea of giving a ring first before just getting married to them, especially since it does allow you to break up with this person as well if you decide you want to go after some other bachelor or bachelorette. But in order to get married you have to have upgraded your house at least twice, and then in the second year you can get the blue feather to marry your one true love. In this game you have to pay for your own wedding, and the cheapest one means no one else is invited, which makes your new betrothed a little disappointed in you.
When it comes to making money, one thing that is a little frustrating is the Trading Depot. Unlike most Harvest moon games, there is no bin where you can toss the things you have found or harvested to make quick cash. Instead it is all based on visiting merchants who come to the town on different days. When you first start the game there is only one merchant who comes, which then only gives you three days as your opportunity to be able to make any kind of money. However, these merchants do give you the opportunity to buy more exotic items as well, but that can also lead to frustration quite quickly as well when you have to wait three days to buy something you need right away. As the game progresses more merchants start to show up and it becomes less of a problem, but it can definitely be frustrating in the beginning.
In the end, I love this game, and though there are little things that I do not like as much as the older games, I think that the creators VIS really did an amazing job, and that stepping away from the Natsume Harvest Moon franchise helped the company more than it hurt. So if anyone has been staring at the game and wondering whether or not it is good enough to live up to the Harvest Moon standards, I am confident enough to say that it has. In fact, I would say it has even gone over those standards.