Story of Seasons (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Albert Lichi 21.04.2015

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   

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