Story of Seasons (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Albert Lichi 21.04.2015 13

Review for Story of Seasons on Nintendo 3DS

Anyone familiar with the Harvest Moon franchise will probably find a lot of qualities about Story of Seasons very appealing. With XSEED Games publishing, this would be Harvest Moon release is now called Story of Seasons in the United States due to a change of ownership, with the originals still belonging to Natsume. This farm-sim RPG continues many of the traditions established in its respective releases, but what does it do differently? Cubed3 readies for the long grind of Story of Seasons for 3DS.

Story of Seasons has a very slow and gruelling beginning. The first week can take a few hours and has some of the most condescending tutorials ever displayed on 3DS. The tutorials agonise over pointless details that anyone who has held a controller in their hand would figure out in a nano-second. The whole process is so boring it might even put some users to sleep by its lack of energy. After the needlessly long tutorial chapter, the game finally begins to open up and unleashes gamers to finally play. In the beginning there are not a whole lot of options as far as farming goes since funds are low and much of the game's features are still tucked away behind certain thresholds to prevent overwhelming users. Specific features like having livestock or fishing and other activities like dating won't be available in the opening hours - no, Story of Seasons demands exploration and grinding away for hours. This is an unbelievably long experience with almost no real ending in sight given the simulation nature of the game. Dedicated folk can drop well over 100 hours in this serious time-pit.

Screenshot for Story of Seasons on Nintendo 3DS

After creating a character (boy or girl only) and enduring the tutorial to finally get to some farming action, something awry with Story of Seasons becomes noticeable: a very unstable frame-rate in a few key areas. One such place is the main location where farming takes place and the frame-rate looks so choppy it may as well be a flip book animation from a bored kid in a horticulture class. The graphics fall fairly short and feel very generic, missing the appeal of previous Harvest Moon releases. Character bodies are a bit too thin and spindly for the chibi-style big head look, and it makes every character look like they are all wearing mascot masks and the town is populated by theme park employees. Early on, it can be very limited in terms of customisation, but over time Story of Seasons reveals that it does indeed have quite a lot of custom options for users to change the way they look. Many things that seem like they would be cosmetic actually do have a gameplay use as well - like owning a pet cat that will find hidden items for players. Even the relationship and dating systems have a purpose that do help make the game seem richer even if the overall veneer is blindingly bland.

Screenshot for Story of Seasons on Nintendo 3DS

Dating and character customisation are all well and good, but the cornerstone of games like this is, of course, the farming. This is usually a slow and grindy process requiring a lot of dedication and patience, and Story of Seasons flawlessly represents all these qualities and then some. The basic game cycle is that a character wakes up early and takes care of crops. Players water plants by running around their field and harvesting or planting new ones. Sometimes rocks must be smashed or trees chopped down. If the user is far enough to have livestock, then they ought to tend to them as well. After all those early morning chores, it is then possible to go about other activities in the day.

Since this is a very non-linear title, pretty much anything can be completed in any order, so time is to be managed more carefully since there are only so many hours in the day and shops or stores only work at specified hours of operation. Time management is the key to farming and since the seasons determine the life of the crops, everything needs to be harvested before the change, since if they aren't, then all those planted die and nothing gets carried over. This is vital since around this time, NPCs from neighbouring towns show up and the opportunity to rake in mega bucks arises, selling crops and even buying some new items. When the seasons change, the cycle restarts, and players have to begin the process over again but with somewhat different conditions to match the new season.

Screenshot for Story of Seasons on Nintendo 3DS

Story of Seasons is not for everyone, but is perfectly fine for those who enjoy the likes of Animal Crossing and, naturally, any previous Harvest Moon. Long and tedious are some qualities that come to mind when describing this, yet that is the nature of farming. It is a tough job that requires a lot of effort to maintain a steady flow of plentiful bounties on top of being able to enjoy the other aspects of farm life. It is appropriate that Story of Seasons does seem like boring agony at times, but it is hard to fault it for that since this is technically part of a long running series in farming sims that does expand on its initial concept and does have a built-in audience, as well. The biggest issue that can be said about Story of Seasons is that much of the hard work put into it rarely ever gets a substantial reward and just usually opens up more avenues to do extra work.

Screenshot for Story of Seasons on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Story of Seasons is a very run of the mill farming sim. It doesn't elevate the genre and it is a very long and tedious endeavour. It does have an unbelievable amount of options and fans of the genre that don't look for much will most likely be satisfied. For everyone else, though, it all just takes way too long to get interesting and is a sloppy game with a lot of slowdown. Never mind that there is an unfathomable amount of busy work the game calls gameplay, the rewards don't feel worth the effort. Are there better farming games out there? Probably, but Story of Seasons should be commended for how much content was put into it, even if most of it feels hollow.

Also known as

Harvest Moon 3D: Linking the New World

Developer

Marvelous

Publisher

Marvelous

Genre

Simulation

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Transparent (guest) 23.04.2015#1


Way to give a low numbered review on a game you barely scratched the surface with just to get people to visit your website more.  Too obvious.

I think if you read the full review, you'll find that is simply not the case. Not everyone loves the Harvest Moon formula, just as not everyone loves Animal Crossing. The style simply doesn't resonate with certain people.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Transparently (guest) 24.04.2015#3

All games won't resonate with certain people... so the reviewer should be giving all of their reviews 5's out of 10's by that logic.  

Except it sounds that they are biased against the type of game and thus the review. Like I said, they barely scratched the surface with vague details that were already known via game trailers. Then complained about "grinding",  which occurs in plenty of other games, especially games tagged with favorable reviews by the same person.  For a big example, I mean Xenoblade Chronicles.
And I did read the full review, but thank you for your concern.

Anyways, it's pretty clear how biased this review is when you have "readies for the long grind" as a finish for an opener.  Then claiming a game is being condescending in tutorials when they expect 7-year-olds might be playing it. And very unstable frame rate? Like a flipbook, really?  Makes me wonder if they even played the game honestly. If so, then get that 3DS checked out.

And now a staff member saying "that's not the case" with no evidence other than telling me to re-read a review I've already read.  Nice.  

It's a poor review, simple as that.

That doesn't make any sense at all. Why should Al be giving all his reviews 5/10? If a reviewer goes into a game hoping for something, and comes away realising the style wasn't their cup of tea and tasks were mundane and repetitive, what should they do? Check a review aggregator and score upwards anyway just to appease the masses, or give their honest opinion - after all, that's what a review is, an opinion of one person, so obviously others are free to disagree, as is the case here?

Having played numerous Harvest Moon games over the years, I know they have their ups and downs. Sometimes they have a great mix of events to take part in, dating elements to engage players, so on and so forth. Other times there are times where the daily process loses its appeal. You mention Xenoblade, but that's like comparing apples and oranges - that vast RPG has countless side-quests to fulfil, and a grand world to explore whilst building up levels.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Sup-
interesting xenoblade gets mentioned here since I also reviewed that game- gave it 9/10.

the distinction with xeno and seasons is that never wastes your time- pretty much much everything is instant.

i have no problem with farm games as a concept since they can be quite relaxing but in the case of seasons it just lacked personality and had a few technical issues and had no real payoff for the work you put into it.

I went in seasons expecting a cute fun little game that would have a sense of humor where I could start a farming empire.

what j got was a game that focused primarily on the labor aspect of farming only.

Transparent Again (guest) 25.04.2015#7

Wow... It makes perfect sense and I'm not sure how to make it more clear, but I will try.  I said "by your logic he should be giving all his reviews 5/10s". Your logic being: it's okay to give a poor review if some people might not like the genre of game.  That means he should be giving all his reviews the same Mediocre Score because anybody can not like a certain game for any given reason.  So, using that common knowledge about every game as an excuse to poorly rate Story of Seasons (probably because he had no other criteria due to lack of playing) is not logical, unless he mentions it in every review and adjusts the score accordingly (which he does not).  I hope you understand now.

And I wasn't comparing the games (SoS and Xenoblade) side by side, I was making a point about his comment on "grinding", which I guess you decided to ignore in your eagerness to respond.
And you can try to make yourselves feel better by chalking it up to difference of opinion, however; it is a lazy review.  And no one expects all the reviews to be great either.  It's just pretty disappointing it can't even be acknowledged, especially with the reviewer proving he barely played the game, while also making it obvious he's not played a Harvest Moon game before either.  And Adam, I don't think you've played Story of Seasons, not sure why you're weighing in except for past experience, which gives no help here with this new game.  Honestly shows the bias even more...

Anyways, hopefully other people looking for a real review will read the comments and know to look elsewhere, at least for this game Smilie

Keep on Gaming!

too bad

Arua (guest) 19.05.2015#9

A review about what I think so far of Story of Seasons.

Well I have a few things to say..
Being a huge fan of the harvest moon series I was really disappointed with story of seasons...

But I do have to say I've bearly scratched the surface of the game and haven't played it that much. But its not because I don't have the time; its because of how poorly the game did on pulling me in.
It did not attract me at all like the older harvest moon games that had their fun cute stories that really gave you a sense in the game other than just farming.

The beginning tutorial is the worst.
Its like an in game week of tutorial,
No other harvest moon game has ever done such a thing and it bored me to death.

Yes the frame rates are quite odd.
I am using the new 3DS and downloaded the game so I don't know if that may affect anything..

The potential brides are really pretty which is nice.
You can also see how your love is blooming by a flower in the corner whenever you talk to them.

But I still do not know how can I see the friendship I have with other neighbors and if those friendships actually matter on unlocking things from the game...

And so far the characters attitude and personalities feel really boring as well.

This is all I have to say for now but when I get deeper into the game this summer I will come back and give you a better review.
I hope this helps.
And if you decided to get the game and give it a try have fun!
Its Harvest moon after all and I hope it starts getting better the deeper I go in; just like the older games in the series.

Gurg (guest) 25.05.2015#10

Way to dogpile on a random commenter. This is the first and last time I'm visiting this site. What dreck. 

Scritty (guest) 17.06.2015#11

Then why get someone who doesn't like the genre to do the review?
I could do a review of every FPS game since the last one I enjoyed (Quake Arena in 1999) and say how dull and boring I thought they all were and what a tired and over used gameplay mechanic FPS is.
It wouldn't be very helpful for the millions of fans of that type of game, I doubt itf any serious publisher would allow me to print and I'm capable of enough introspection to think
"You know what, I'm not the right person to review this game. It's in a genre I don't enjoy AND THAT WILL COLOUR EVERYTHING PAST THAT POINT"

If you approach a game in a genre you don't enjoy. That's pretty much the end of that.
It also offers zero value for the millions who do enjoy and buy HM and RF games. To those (who will make the vast majority of purchasers) a reviewer who openly admits to a negatively biased prejudice against the whole genre makes any specific review just about worthless.

Scritty (guest) said:
Then why get someone who doesn't like the genre to do the review?
I could do a review of every FPS game since the last one I enjoyed (Quake Arena in 1999) and say how dull and boring I thought they all were and what a tired and over used gameplay mechanic FPS is.
It wouldn't be very helpful for the millions of fans of that type of game, I doubt itf any serious publisher would allow me to print and I'm capable of enough introspection to think
"You know what, I'm not the right person to review this game. It's in a genre I don't enjoy AND THAT WILL COLOUR EVERYTHING PAST THAT POINT"

If you approach a game in a genre you don't enjoy. That's pretty much the end of that.


Fans of the genre of this kind of game would buy this game no matter what.  also, there is no excuse for story of seasons to be rife with so many technical issues and poor UI design. these are things that you dont need to be a fan of the genre to notice.

Chris (guest) 09.08.2015#13

I think this review isn't as comprehensive, but I kinda agree that the game created a whole lot of tedious work which do not reap very satisfying rewards.

One good example of this tedious work pertains to how the game dictates when you can get specific set of clothes, items, recipes, etc. It's really kinda annoying having to keep sleeping, to pass a few years in game, just to be able to unlock a specific animal and then be able to get a specific item so that you can make a specific dress, supply, etc.

Also, I fully understand that this is supposed to be a farming game but I find the extra steps they've created such as having to go through multiple process to get seeds, growing five star crops, etc. very tedious.

Essentially, they've created a real life version of farm life... having to create every single item you'll own in game from scratch (needing to get the seed, turn it into seedling, growing it, turning it into yarn, dyeing the yard, collecting other essential items, putting them all together, just to have one single dress... the same process takes place if you want to own a table, a bed, etc.). That's a whole lot of work which seriously takes the fun out of the game.  

I remember playing the very first Harvest Moon game. It was tedious... but the rewards were satisfying. Furthermore, in the original Harvest Moon games... they throw in extra help, the further along you are in game (you have sprites to help out with farming, you have a specific tool that can cut out all the tedious work, etc.)...

Their poor attempt, in this game, to lend you a helping hand is a farming carousel... which, in my opinion, isn't all that helpful.. considering you obtain it after passing years in the game. Furthermore, it still requires extra work, asking the player to keep checking the seeds... fertilizing them everyday to be able to get a five star crop.

This game would have been so enjoyable. I love that you can customize almost everything... the town, your face, your clothes, your house, your furniture, your surroundings, etc. I love that the bachelors/bachelorettes are mostly age appropriate except for maybe two characters. I love the cuteness of the animals you will own. I love the Safari. But the amount of work it requires to get the kind of customization you like etc. are dictated by the game's own time (after a four years this animal will unlock or item will unlock) etc. Furthermore, it doesn't help that every single piece of item you'll want to customize and own will have to be created from scratch and will have to go through several process and steps before being obtained.

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