Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town Review: 5 Reasons to Buy

Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town Review: 5 Reasons to Buy

Someone at Natsume had a great idea for Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town: stop restricting the gender of the playable character of Harvest Moon to being male-only. While this may seem like an obvious design choice in hindsight, it was fairly revolutionary in 2003 (though the series had done this once before for the Japan-only release Bokujō Monogatari: Harvest Moon for Girl), and it helped to usher in greater representation across the video game industry. One can see its influence in later games such as Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley.

A Familiar Experience With Some New Faces

harvest moon
Harvest Moon is the OG farm-life simulator.

Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town is virtually identical to the two-year-old version of Friends of Mineral Town except for the fact that it’s played from a female perspective. The basic plot is familiar: your character, tired of living in the city, decides to buy a dilapidated farm, fix it up, and work the land. Along the way, she’ll meet various townspeople, help solve some of the town’s problems, and potentially find romance. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t go so far as to allow romances beyond five boys in town. While this game was revolutionary in some ways, there was still some time and growth in the industry before we would see other kinds of relationships represented in mainstream video games.

The gameplay hasn’t been overhauled much since the original Friends of Mineral Town. You’ll still be doing the same day-to-day tasks, buying seeds, sowing and tending to crops to make money for farm upgrades, and building relationships with the various villagers. There are now “Event Points” to collect for going through story beats, a new fishing minigame at a pond, and some added character interactions (such as the aforementioned romance system). Still, this is a Harvest Moon game through and through.

Living the Simple Life

Harvest Moon lets players relax with the easiest form of hard work.

Being a Harvest Moon protagonist, your character decides to put some sweat and equity into the farm. She raises crops and livestock for her living and heads to town on occasion to interact with the locals and look for a gentleman to settle down with. There is a lot of micromanagement to perform, but it’s done in such a way that it’s actually fun. There’s a certain charm and comfort that goes along with this series. The gameplay isn’t different enough from the original Friends of Mineral Town to recommend buying if you’ve already played that one, but if it’s your first exposure to this kind of farming RPG then by all means give it a shot.

Crops have to be planted, watered, and eventually cultivated. Like the livestock, when your produce is ready you can sell it and use the money to upgrade your farm. You can purchase new tools, additions to your home, and more animals. You’ll start off with some very primitive tools such as an axe, scythe, and hoe and eventually upgrade to a tractor and other modern machinery to make your life easier and your business more productive.

Time is a Factor

You can only do so much work in a day. Whether it’s milking cows, planting seeds, fishing, or visiting people in town, you will have to get to bed around 9 p.m. if you want to be able to tackle tomorrow’s chores. The time limit will keep you from being able to do everything you want on a given day, but this time management aspect is what gives the game its sense of challenge. Time runs constantly, only occasionally stopping when you’re playing a minigame. Using tools will run down your stamina meter, but you can replenish it by eating some food, of which there should be a good supply if you’ve been diligent with your farm work.

For obvious reasons, events in Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town do not take place in real-time. An average day lasts about 20 minutes. Days will give way to seasons. Crops and livestock will grow until they reach maturity and can be taken to market and sold. Eventually, you will complete a year cycle. There is no limit to how many years you can play. After about 50 hours you’ll have seen just about everything the game has to offer, but there’s no need to stop if you’re still having fun.

Plenty of Activities to Take Part In

Sprites can be paid to look after the farm for you while you head to town with some of your prized cooking. Once you learn how to cook you will attract potential suitors and eventually get married and raise a family – if that’s what you want to do. There are so many things to do in this game that it’s staggering. Even the way you interact with other characters has an effect on how the game and your character develop.

A Pleasant Presentation

The graphics are bright and colorful, and the original music is catchy and relaxing. You can connect with the GameCube game Harvest Moon: Another Wonderful Life for some unlockables, such as the ability to change the music and some new minigames.

If you’ve played Friends of Mineral Town there’s nothing particularly new to see in Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town. On the other hand, if this is all new to you, then you’ll be in for a treat. There’s no other RPG quite like it, perhaps barring the original game.

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