Speaking truthfully, the core Harvest Moon or the new Story of Seasons games have never really caught my attention. I always craved just a bit more than the simple life. For me, the Rune Factory games were a much better alternative, since they provided me with a great sense of accomplishment in two ways; Farming and battling.
I see the appeal of constantly improving your farmland, but, for me at least, that core mechanic isn’t enough to satisfy me for a long period of time. Thus, I was happy to find out that the next Story of Seasons would be joining with PopoloCrois, for a sequel to the PSP game which also incorporates a ton of farming gameplay.
But did the merger of these two completely separate franchises make for a good game? Let’s find out.
- Being a direct sequel, more or less, to the PSP title, PopoloCrois, the game is actually quite story heavy, just like you’d expect from a typical RPG. I shouldn’t say that Story of Seasons didn’t have a narrative of any kind, but in no way did it come close to anything resembling an epic RPG.
- Speaking of the story, it’s all very lighthearted. Sure, the twists, if you can call them that, are fairly transparent, but the game is certainly not about those. As Prince Pietro, you’ll find yourself whisked away to Galariland, a location that you volunteer to go visit to learn about the ‘Black Beasts’ that are plaguing it. Things don’t go as planned, and Pietro finds himself stuck in Galariland, tending both to local problems, and his newfound farmland as well.
- The characters, both good and bad, are generally interesting, and have their personalities really fleshed out. The great thing is, you spend a lot of your time interacting with them, meaning you really get a good understanding of their personalities.
- Though both names are represented in the title, the game is certainly more PopoloCrois than Story of Seasons. While there is a fair amount of farming to be done, the game is a JRPG first and foremost, which I personally thought was great. However, if you were thinking of buying this to satiate your thirst for a new farming sim, this might not be the game to do that.
- When it comes to the JRPG aspects, they’re all relatively straightforward. Equipment and leveling will constantly improve your characters and battles are done through random encounters, and play out in a turn-based manner.
- The combat isn’t entirely too challenging, even on the game’s normal difficulty, and even allow players to turn Auto-Battle on with a press of a button, which more or less takes care of enemies for you. Granted, Auto-Battle is fine for when you’re battling mobs, but bosses should certainly not be fought that way.
- Even though the combat is on the easier side, it does come with some cool bells and whistles. You can move your character in a limited space around them, giving you tactical advantage when available. You can also use super powerful pair skills, which you learn as you bring different characters into battle.
- Despite personally liking the JRPG aspect more than the farming, I did appreciate that the game gives those on the opposite spectrum options to make the JRPG aspects more bearable. For instance, you can toggle the frequency of random encounters, meaning you can ramp them up when you want to grind, or turn them down a minimum, when you mostly want to explore. Likewise, the different difficulty options in the beginning of the game will allow JRPG newcomers to make the experience super easy for them.
- As far as the farming stuff goes, it’s all rather basic, but not in a negative way. For example, you have no stamina bar to worry about, meaning you can farm as long as you want to. Crops grow in real time as you play, meaning you should always return to your farm to check on your crops. The game also handles seasons in a unique way, by giving you four different farms as you play through it, with each one dedicated to a certain season.
- Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons enthusiasts know that the games are also built around forming relationships and ultimately woo-ing a waifu or husbando. In this case, Pietro is very much in love with Narcia, as part of the PopoloCrois canon. The game sidesteps this by letting you form bonds with maidens who in turn will grant you blessings to improve your farming.
- Both the soundtrack and the visuals are fantastic, for a 3DS game of this type. The voice work does get some praise as well, especially since you can also switch between English as well as two different Japanese VOs.
- The difficulty, especially for experienced gamers, is rather low. Considering it’s a JRPG first and foremost, some added challenge would have been appreciated. That even goes for the King difficulty.
- The Field Dungeons were rather uninspired, and a little too copy/paste.
- No analog controls. Moving Pietro sometimes feels straight up awkward.
As I’ve stated before, those looking to get their farming fix will most likely be disappointed with this odd crossover. The PopoloCrois parts certainly outweigh the Story of Seasons ones. And even then the farming is a lot more simplified in this.
While the pairing may be odd, they might have helped each other in ways they couldn’t expect. Story of Seasons was unfortunately a formula that never fully appealed to me, so having the JRPG layer on top of it has certainly led me to appreciate the moments of downtime more, to cultivate my farms.
It’s charming, like, incredibly so, and the presentation is fantastic. As a JRPG veteran, I would have appreciated a higher challenge, but given that the core mechanics in the game are so well done, it’s a negative that I’m willing to overlook.