Review: Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns (3DS)

A certain series has turned 20 years old; is this a tribute worthy of the time of digital farmers?

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 03/28/2017 10:00 2 Comments     ShareThis
The Final Grade
B+
Excellent
grade/score info
1up
1-Up Mushroom for...
Exquisite presentation; farming mechanics are simple but addictive; great romantic interests to choose from (whether playing as a boy or girl!); bouncing between the three towns is fun and requires a touch of strategy
1up
Poison Mushroom for...
Opening is overly slow; soundtrack will please some, grate the ears of others

While I’ve enjoyed Natsume’s take on the Harvest Moon franchise ever since original developer Marvelous Entertainment jumped ship to publisher Xseed, there’s no denying that the product hitting store shelves is lacking the spark that made the series great for so many years. Whatever that unquantifiable something is that Harvest Moon once had is still burning bright in the Story of Seasons games. Marvelous and Xseed might not be able to call it Harvest Moon in the West anymore, but despite the name change this series is still the farming simulator that fans have come to love after all these years. Thankfully the latest installment, Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns is not only the best Story of Seasons game so far, it’s also the evolution of the Harvest Moon series that fans have been waiting for.

First and foremost, Trio of Towns is ambitious in a way that I’ve not seen in any previous Harvest Moon games or even this title’s successor. The three interlocked towns that the game is titled after are each home to unique inhabitants and shops, and as a result it felt more like a real place than I’ve ever experienced in either series. Which makes sense, given the three towns are modeled after anytown USA, Hawaii, and a traditional Japanese village. The locations unlock as the player progresses through the game, adding a breath of fresh air with each new destination. This entry of Story of Seasons also happens to be the most gorgeous one yet; the handheld is pushed hard by Trio of Towns and despite some hesitation by the 3DS at times, the extra polish really shines. Colors are rich and deep, the environments are detailed, and in general the daily grind of harvesting crops and wooing townsfolk is a lovely sight to behold.

Those two activities, as ever, comprise the bulk of what players will be doing for the duration of Trio of Towns. Farm to make cash, use that cash to buy more crops and livestock, make more cash, improve your home, and repeat. Which sounds a lot like the life of an actual farmer, more or less, but this is Story of Seasons, meaning it’s a heck of a lot of fun. Daily tasks are the usual simple fare that they’ve always been, but that’s not a mark against Trio of Towns; these basic bits of gameplay are the hallmark of the series and add to the laid back feel that makes these games unique. Beyond tapping a button to pluck veggies, though, Trio of Towns also utilizes its three locales to spice up things like building new structures on the farm. Having to travel to more than one location and keeping in mind the schedules of the shops and people within them added a light element of strategy that I enjoyed.

The largest overarching goal of Trio of Towns is to maximize the rank of your Town Link. Cavorting around the different towns, meeting people, getting to know them, and buying things will all make your rank increase. Thankfully, the game isn’t very brutal about forcing players to slavishly tend to all this relationship building; it’s possible to deviate and focus on other tasks and activities without devoting every bit of play time to working on your rank. Which really speaks to what makes Trio of Towns so engaging; it never forces the player’s hand all that much. Yes, the beginning features some lengthy periods where gameplay takes a backseat to tutorials and such, but overall I spent my time picking what I wanted to focus on when I wanted to. Not up to wooing Kasumi today? Go fishing, instead! Bouncing around, taking a leisurely pace through the game, made Trio of Towns a relaxing, satisfying experience for me.

That said, the game isn’t perfect. While I think that the overall presentation is very solid, I do think that there’s a stiffness to some of the animations that could use some ironing out. I also wasn’t huge on the music. That’s not to say it’s not a good soundtrack, but I personally wasn’t enthralled by it. Despite my nitpicking, the sound quality is top notch, and I can recognize when my own tastes might not sync up with everyone else’s, so I’m willing to concede that the music is well done enough that a lot of readers out there might find themselves tapping their toes to the tunes, regardless of the lack of life in my own digits. I also felt like Marvelous could have trimmed some of the fat off of Trio of Towns’ intro; the gameplay isn’t so complicated that it needs a lot of elaboration for players to understand, but so much time is spent getting drip fed information that I almost wanted to stop playing at first. Tweaking settings in the options menu allows players to select “Veteran Mode” and reduce the intrusive tutorials, but it’s not a perfect solution. Why not simply allow players to skip the tutorials if they want, regardless of difficulty level? I need to know, Marvelous!

From fishing to livestock to love interests to raising pets and chatting up locals, Trio of Towns is loaded with things to do. It’s wonderful how feature-packed and loaded with things to do that this game is. 3DS is getting a bit long in the tooth, but it would be hard to guess that when fresh games like Trio of Towns keep popping up and practically forcing me to tote the handheld along with me everywhere that I go. Harvest Moon turned 20 this year, and with absolute respect for Natsume’s own efforts, Trio of Towns is a very apropos way of celebrating that milestone. It’s quirky and charming in the way that the best installments in the series are beloved for, and I’m still plucking away at my farm today. Plus… Mario costumes. Seriously, what more do you need?! Go give Trio of Towns a look, folks, it’s a winner.

2 Responses to “Review: Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns (3DS)”

  • 66 points
    haruhi4 says...

    This is the best harvest moon game i’ve seen in years. The characters have so much dialog(which is something i’ve been wanting and not getting in 3ds harvest moon series games), they have so much background stories, there’s requests to keep you busy all day, the music, to me, is really good and the love events from some characters are too much cute! ^^

    Thumb up 1

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