If you have ever dreamed of a colorful world with lovable villagers, crops, cute animals and some dungeons to keep one occupied then Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale for the Nintendo 3DS is the game to help make the dream more real. Developed by Marvelous and published by XSEED Games, the characters, story and the idealistic scenery proves this game was developed for pure enjoyment.
The Story of Seasons series, previously known as Harvest Moon, began as a manga in the 1980s before gaining two anime adaptions before being developed into several role-playing-games. Now Prince Pietro returns in A Story of Seasons Fairytale which begins on his 13th birthday.
Pietro is the prince of PopoloCrois, a peaceful country with a beloved King and Queen. His world is filled with loving and supporting friends and everything seems to be going smoothly, aside from the threat of the land slowly not being able to grow crops anymore. Spreading throughout the kingdom of PopoloCrois is a darkness that seizes the land’s ability to grow.
The King is worried, but a guest named Marmela from the unheard of land called Galariland comes to Pietro’s birthday party offering help. The catch is that Pietro must travel to Galariland by himself to learn the secret to defeating the evil that ruins the farm plots. Once in Galariland, Pietro finds himself very much alone and in lots of trouble. He decides to live and defeat the evil that affects Galariland’s farms to resurrect Goddess Galariel who is the only one that can return the prince to his homeland.
A Story of Seasons Fairytale may have a sad beginning, but the story soon lifts up the player’s spirit along the way. Pietro eventually meets up with characters who are willing to help him and want to return the land to it’s bountiful glory. The NPCs the prince speaks to will offer up quests, advice, wisdom and funny lines all which give the player a reason to speak to everyone in the game. Each individual NPC has something to offer, and it would be a crime to skip over the option to speak with some of them. Much to my surprise, the character development of the story is extremely well written.
The reality of the prince’s duty to protect the kingdom is well rooted in Pietro who feels it is his duty to bring the light back to this strange country in order to resurrect Galariel who in turn send him home. Pietro gets caught up in adventuring and finding new friends,and yet he never loses the memory of his own country of PopoloCrois. He mentions on several occasions the desire to go home and tend to his own people’s security. He takes his destiny of helping the Goddess Galariel and eventually ruling his homeland seriously while still keeping his child-like charm.
As Pietro, the player must farm, gather and synthesize while exploring this unknown world. The citizens of Galariland don’t seem to believe his royal status but prefer to treat him more of an equal. This experience is alluded to the fact it will aid the prince and help him develop into a better leader someday. Using the equipment found when fighting enemies or by purchasing them in the various shops will help out your adventuring team greatly. Like traditional turn-based RPGs, players have options to strengthen characters by using their individual skills.
The combat is fairly straight forward, and I have yet to experience any frustration when battling. It’s a lovely game that offers a leisurely blend of combat and farming without much difficulty on either end. Personally, I found the farming simulator element absolutely perfect for my tastes. Instead of using real minutes/ hours, the crops Pietro plants grow according to the time and events inside the game which means there are no worries tied to time outside the 3DS.
The farming gives a peaceful and relaxing feeling while playing, which is aided by the befitting musical score. In many ways it would be wonderful for XSEED to release the soundtrack alongside the game. It would give players a chance to have the worlds of A Story of Seasons incorporated into their own daily tasks. The graphics and art style is far from elegant, and yet it’s charming 90s’ JRPG style is still left to be admired.
The characters, no matter their situation, are adorable and even many of the monsters Pietro & Co. come across having their own cuteness to them (while still managing to be fearsome). How often these meddlesome monsters encounter Pietro’s party is based on your game setting; the more monsters you fight means the quicker the adventuring party’s experience goes up. There are several settings aside from the monster encounters that help make the game more customizable however.
There is one addition that rises above the rest for JRPG fans: the ability to have Japanese voicetrack with English text. This option is one that I have longed for in many JRPGs that have been released to the West. Playing Return to PopoliCrois with the Japanese voice cast makes this title even more special.
Everything about this game is enchanting and colorful. From peacefully farming to battling turnips, armored lizards and more sinister creatures, this title offers a great option for beginning RPG players and a charm for experienced players to enjoy. Every element of Return to PopoloCrois: Story of Seasons Fairytale melds perfectly together to form a wonderfully enjoyable game. It is the type of game best for relaxing and to experience a rich story of a boy prince who will do whatever it takes to save those who are suffering.
A 3DS code for Return to PopoloCrois: A STORY OF SEASONS Fairytale was provideded by XSEED for the purpose of this review