The history of the Story of Seasons series has become increasingly confusing over the years. Originally called Harvest Moon, the series effectively split in two back in 2012. Natsume continued to develop their own games under the Harvest Moon name, and Marvelous continued the original series under the Story of Seasons moniker. Now Doraemon Story of Seasons is coming along to throw the popular world of Doraemon into the mix. Combining two immensely popular Japanese franchises under a single roof to try and make them more famous in the West is an interesting strategy. Will Doraemon Story of Seasons meet with much success? Let's take a look.
The blend of cutesy anime aimed at children and the relaxed atmosphere of the main series is immediately apparent. From the get-go, the main character lounges about a rural area, dreaming of a relaxed summer. After a beautifully animated opening cutscene, Noby and his friends catapult into a magical world. They find themselves trapped in this strange place, forced to work along with the rest of the children in the area by the strange and cruel mayor. After scouting the area for work, Noby establishing his own farm, beginning the game in earnest.
That description might make the intro seem like a speedy affair, but I can promise you it's anything but. There were two hours between pressing start and actually getting to farm properly. Most of that time involves meeting all the townsfolk and learning various mechanics. Luckily, it's all skippable on repeated playthroughs, but even this can be a pain considering how many sections you need to skip through. Fortunately, once you're through the intro, you're pretty much left to go at your own pace.
Doraemon Story of Seasons' Slow Start
Beyond the overarching storyline, Doraemon: Story of Seasons functions exactly as you might expect. You spend your time tending land completely at your own pace as you slowly build up a massive farm. Along the way, you collect resources to upgrade buildings, meet with townspeople to get to know them better and can fritter away your spare time in the evenings with bug-catching, fishing or a plethora of other laid-back activities. If you've ever played a Story of Seasons or Harvest Moon game in your life then you're going to be pretty much at home here straight away.
Tending crops basically involves planting them, watering them and eventually harvesting them after they're grown. You're given all the tools you'll need from the outset, and using them is pretty simple overall. Unlike previous Story of Seasons games, you can't go around using your tools flippantly. You can only activate any given tool when you're standing by an appropriate plant or other items. This system is great because it prevents you from wasting stamina with accidental bouts of destruction. Managing your stamina is super important since you use it for everything from crop management to cleaning up and mining.
Stamina also benefits from a new 'napping' feature. Certain businesses and events only take place at certain times of the day. In addition, it's difficult to squeeze everything you want to do into a single stamina bar. Thankfully, you can nap whenever and wherever you want. As well as recovering your stamina and allowing for more activities without wasting a day, this also allows you to wake up at a certain time. Cutting down on the amount of time spent waiting out the clock is another great addition, which only makes it easier to spend hours and hours playing.
Social Graces in Doraemon Story of Seasons
The Doraemon dressing mainly affects character design and the plot. Remember, you're not just aiming to run a great farm, you're also trying to get home. The storm you were all swept up in caused Doraemon to lose all his futuristic gadgets so you have to try and find them. The main driving force behind the plot is finding these devices, with each one getting you closer and closer to finding your way home. Most of the time they've fallen into the hands of different people around town. Getting the gadgets back basically involves becoming friends with different villagers.
Your relationships with other people are the main way of measuring progression. Each person comes with a sort of 'relationship' meter which you can check using your menu. To make the bar go up you just need to make sure you speak to them when you notice them walking around town, and attend social events. Of course, it doesn't hurt to throw a gift in their faces from time-to-time either. Your relationships don't seem to decay either which is a wise move. You're pretty much free to pursue any goal you like without the main plot getting in the way. Of course, you'll generally find the plot furthering just by the day-to-day living of your life.
Hopefully, Doraemon Story of Seasons will help to introduce more people to the Doraemon manga series. Although it is massively successful in Japan, it has had a hard time making headway in the west. Luckily, Doraemon Story of Seasons is a perfect match. The cute character designs and soft color pallets of the characters mix well with a game all about a relaxing life lived at your own pace. While they don't do much to actually introduce the characters and their backstories, the tone is very light-hearted, and I have no doubts that this entry in the series will make new fans of Doraemon out of many people who try the game out.
Doraemon Story of Seasons | A Promising Start
Overall, Doraemon Story of Seasons does exactly what it sets out to do. Successfully replicating the Story of Seasons formula wrapped up in a Doraemon skin. Not only retaining the laid back attitude which the series is famous for, this new installment uses the soft visuals of the anime to give the entire game a new coat of paint, making it feel fresher than any other recent entries have done. While the intro might put you to sleep, once it's done you're left completely to your own devices. Just make sure you keep up your social life if you plan on ever 'finishing'.
TechRaptor covered Doraemon Story of Seasons on PC via Steam with a code supplied by the publisher.