Okay, okay, I’m kind of breaking the rules for this column since there’s not actually a trailer out for this yet, but I’m just too excited for it to wait.
Back in February of 2014, XSeed released the spiritual successor to the Harvest Moon series, Story of Seasons. Although the original IP remained with Natsume, Story of Seasons continued on with the dating sim/farming simulator formula that fans had come to love. Having invested a hefty number of hours into Story of Seasons myself, I can safely say that I trust XSeed with everything from now on (not that I was uncertain on their quality earlier, but sometimes you get a little protective with the things you love). Needless to say when it was revealed last week that the next game in the Story of Seasons series was preparing for release, I jumped onboard with no time to spare.
This new installment, “3つの里の大切な友だち” (or “Cherished Friends of Three Towns”) lives up to its name, having three different towns for the player to experience: a Western town, a traditional Japanese town, and town with a more tropical feel. Since customization options have steadily been growing since Animal Parade, I sincerely hope that each town will allow for different types of clothing and various decorative schematics. Within each town, it seems as though the player will be able to take on part-time jobs, in addition to farming, which may fill up your farmer’s day if you find that you often have large chunks of time with nothing to do. Fans of the genre have been making parallels between this game and The Tale of Two Towns, in which the player had two towns to play in. However, fans seem to agree that Two Towns was rife with problems and annoyances, one of which being the game mechanics concerning the two towns, so there’s some trepidation about returning to this kind of set-up with the inclusion of one more town. Though, if Marvelous manages to rework the entire system to address these complaints (not being able to change your farm location from town to town until the end of the year, not having the time to do things in the various towns, etc. etc.)
What Story of Seasons has been improving on most for me, however, is the characterizations of the townsfolk, especially the bachelors and bachelorettes. Each character ends up actually being a character with different quirks and flaws that the player comes to know. However, like a lot of Japanese games (or just games in general, really), there are not a lot of Black characters. In the last Story of Seasons game, there was only one. And honestly, thinking about it I don’t think I’ve ever seen a non-pale female character, let alone a Black woman (wait, no, there’s one). While I definitely don’t hold out any hope on this installment of Story of Seasons addressing same-sex dating, I do sincerely hope that at least one of the towns will have more than one Black or non-pale person in them—especially since the information we’ve gotten on the Western town thus far shows everyone being, for all intents and purposes, white, blonde, and blue-eyed.
Cherished Friends is coming out in Japan this summer, so we’re not going to get it here in America for a while (probably next year). But, hopefully the information we’ll get in the coming months will keep me excited for this game!