The Story of Seasons game series, previously known as Harvest Moon, has struggled to provide players with a full experience after the first few in-game years of progression. However, changes in A Wonderful Life Remake will finally offer a solution.
Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life Remake was announced during the 2022 September Nintendo Direct, ushering the second major remake of a past Harvest Moon game in recent years.
The previously remade Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town was the franchise debut for the Nintendo Switch, followed by Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town. Unfortunately, both games didn’t quite hit home with fans the way previous titles for the 3DS were able to.
What makes Story of Seasons & Harvest Moon fun to play?
The slice-of-life farming genre of gaming specializes in creating a slow-to-start – but progressively rewarding – gameplay experience that mimics the real challenges of building up towns and raising a plot of land to fruition.
Because of this, the games must include progressively more difficult challenges that encourage players to work toward long-term goals. This can be breeding animals to achieve top-quality products, raising generations of crops to obtain the best quality seeds or upgrades to the farm and town that completely transform the location.
While this was done very well in older games through the inclusion of golden animal products and rare crop seeds, recent installations of the game seem to focus more on graphics and RPG elements than the traditional gameplay that has pulled the player base in for years.
Why Story of Seasons remakes are important for the series
While many fans love a remake, there are many reasons Marvelous and XSEED have decided to overhaul older games in the series. Story of Seasons, previously known as Harvest Moon, was once worked on by Marvelous and Natsume. However, following their split in 2012, Marvelous rebranded the iconic series under Story of Seasons, while Natsume kept only the name “Harvest Moon”.
Natsume would go on to release farming games using the past title, but players have vocalized frustration at the low-quality gameplay and high price tag.
Because of this, remaking older titles under “Story of Season” gives Marvelous the chance to remind players that the iconic games of past decades belong to the new series, while also distancing the titles from Natsume’s influence.
The remake of Friends of Mineral Town was brightly colored and true to the original gameplay. So much so, that it lacked content for a powerful system like the Nintendo Switch. An absence of farm customization, town exploration, and animal product variety quickly bogged gameplay down to tedious hours of crop-watering.
Unfortunately, Pioneers of Olive Town also seemed to miss a beat, integrating widely popular exploration mechanics from titles like Stardew Valley into a lifeless world. Maker Machines bogged down product production, and a complete lack of late-game goals left many lost once they’d decorated their farms.
While creating a pretty farm area is nice in Animal Crossing, it isn’t the best fit for a grindy, gritty series like Story of Seasons.
How can Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life Remake fix gameplay?
In the new gameplay trailer shared by Nintendo‘s YouTube channel, the first glimpse of the remake offers a series of cinematic and gameplay clips. While standard mechanics like farming and homestead management are included, a clip near the end of the video shows how the series is trying to evolve.
According to the trailer, Story of Seasons players will be able to watch their protagonist grow old through gameplay. They can get married, raise a child, and see that child grow to be an adult – similar to the original game’s concept.
Additionally, the children players raise will be influenced by parenting choices, making the long-term investment of their child important. Once grown, their childhood will affect who they turn out to be, and what career they choose they will follow.
Players have begged for this type of progression in the Story of Seasons games in recent years, as many burn out after a handful of seasons into the game. However, the knowledge that the protagonist won’t be forever young, and that the choices made are done so on a limited clock, puts an entirely new type of weight on how gameplay progresses.
How Aging could change future Story of Seasons games
If Marvelous and XSEED were to continue the use of this highly sought-after mechanic in future titles of the series, slice-of-life gameplay could be very different in years to come.
A system could be implemented that allows players to start a “New Game Plus” as the child of their previous character. It could also create the opportunity for farms to grow and change over multiple generations, allowing players to start new romances without having to completely rebuild their games from the ground up.
Additionally, goals could be added to the games that carry through generations. While the first game could focus on setting the farm up, there could be a goal to breed show-quality animals in the next save or award-winning crops in another.
The games could also lock certain animals and crop types behind this style of progression. Certain animal colors may only populate after so many generations of livestock have been bred, while super rare crops like gold or crystal varieties could only be obtained after so many generations of crossbreeding.
This type of gameplay could revolutionize the farming genre, and create a much greater sense of satisfaction than “milk the cow” or “plant the potato”. While these aspects are lovely, having specific goals when setting up farms helps players stay connected, and prevents repetition burnout.
While there is no way to know how the changes in Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life Remake will affect development choices in the future, there is hope the mechanics used in the upcoming game will help the farming series step into a new generation of gameplay.