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

The latest Story of Seasons Game comes with plenty of content, and all of the charm that you’ve come to expect from the series

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For 20 years now, the Story of Seasons (previously Harvest Moon) franchise has been entertaining players with its whimsical take on farm life – and I’m happy to say that it hasn’t really lost its touch. Despite the number of farming-based games that have been cropping up (hah!) over the years, Story of Seasons has always done a good job of standing its ground – and that’s probably why it’s lived to see its 20th anniversary. No hallmark video game anniversary would be complete without a game to go with it however, and that’s precisely why Marvelous has presented us with Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns.

Trio of Towns begins with your character wanting to start the next chapter of their life. Tired of living with their kid sister and under their parents’ roof, the player decides to spread their wings and fly… to the nearest available farm. Normally that might be kind of difficult for someone to do on a whim, but not for you! It just so happens that your good old Uncle Frank is able to hook you up with a pretty generous plot of land. And thus, your farming adventure begins!

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You’ve got plenty of land, but you might need to clean it up a bit first.

Much of Trio of Towns’ gameplay revolves around farming – a fact which should come as a surprise to no one. And if you’re familiar with previous entries in the Story of Seasons franchise, then you should feel right at home in this game. Trio of Towns features all of the traditional farming gameplay that you’ve come to expect from the series – requiring players to till the land, plant seeds, and tend to their crops every day.

Growing crops has become a little more sophisticated, however. On top of its overall quality, most crops come with a variety of attributes such as color, size, juiciness and aroma/sweetness, which can increase based on what kinds of fertilizer the player uses and mainly come into play during competitions. While I would have preferred for these attributes to have more of a bearing on other things, such as sell price and affection gained by others when given as presents, the fact that they were there at all was a step in the right direction.

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Choose your fertilizer carefully!

On the other side of the proverbial coin we have animals! I mean you can’t really have yourself a proper Story of Seasons farm if you don’t have a few cows and chickens running around, right? Livestock care also remains true to standard series mechanics, denoting that players spend a portion of each day making sure that their animal friends are brushed and fed, and that they collect milk, eggs, and wool if able. Players are able to give special treats to their livestock as well – but this mechanic almost ends up being too rewarding.

By giving treats to livestock, players are able to slowly increase over time the coat, size, affection, byproduct level and, shockingly byproduct amount of each animal. Because of this, I found myself not needing to purchase more than one of each livestock for quite some time. After all, what good is having a coop full of chickens if I can instead have one chicken that lays over half a dozen eggs each day? Trio of Towns does offset this a bit by offering an impressive array of different animal to raise, but the ability to “power up” your livestock as much as you can left me scratching my head. Unless you plan on giving the same kind of byproduct away to everyone as a gift or really like cooking, it doesn’t seem to benefit you to own a large amount of one specific kind of animal.

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Pets can go almost anywhere, now.

Pets also make a return in Trio of Towns, and boy let me tell you – they’re better than ever! Players are able to purchase cats, dogs, and, for the first time, capybaras (didn’t see that one coming, did you?) as pets, and these critters do more than just sit there and look cute (although they can still do that if you want them to). Every pet has a special ability, allowing them to collect items like minerals or even heard cattle for you, turning them into happy, active members of the farm. Each animal type comes in a variety of breeds too, most noticeably the dogs. Personally, I absolutely loved having a Daschund follow me around.

Finally, when it comes to farming, we have Farm Circles – something I consider to be the biggest innovation in Trio of Towns. Farm Circles basically give players the ability to customize their farm however they’d like, by allowing them to physically pick up and move parts of their farm (such as fields and barns), around. Yes, really. You won’t start out with too many different kinds of Farm Circles available, but that quickly changes. Additional Farm Circles are added as you progress throughout the game, allowing players to create seeds from crops they’ve grown, churn out dairy products, and even make cloth which can be turned into clothing.

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Your farm – your way!

Farm Circles aren’t all function, though. They can also be used for decoration and, truthfully, this is part of why I like them so much! Trio of Towns provide players with well over 100 different structures – ranging anywhere from stacks of crates to a giant statue of a dog with a golden crown on its head – to place around their farm. The decorative side of farm life does take some work, especially considering the money and resources needed to develop certain things, but it gets to be really fun (and addicting). I honestly wasn’t expecting to be given this much creative control over how my farm looks, but I’m very happy that I was.

So raising crops and cattle is all well and good,  but anyone familiar with this franchise knows that cultivating a good social life is just as important – and in Trio of Towns, it’s a bigger task than ever! Why? Well the game’s title isn’t just for show; there are three different towns in this game!

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Trio of towns offers plenty of places to go, things to do, and people to see.

Trio of Towns boasts three entirely unique towns; the rustic Westown (the “traditional” town in this game), the tropical Lulukoko, and the Eastern-styled Tsuyukasa. Now if you’re anything like me, you might be worried that the whole three-town thing is a trick – that we’re being presented with three watered-down towns instead of one highly-detailed town. Well, my friends, I can quell those fears right now, because that isn’t the case – quite the opposite in fact.

I was really impressed with each of the locales in Trio of Towns. Attempting to infuse a modicum of diversity into the series while still retaining the traditional Story of Seasons feel was probably a pretty difficult task, but Marvelous certainly managed to pull things off. Visiting different places in order to partake in various activities and purchase different things for your farm wasn’t just enjoyable, it actually made sense. I know that you wouldn’t necessarily pick up a Story of Seasons game for the overwhelming realism, but the fact that you needed to go to Westown if you wanted to buy a cow or swing by Tsuyukasa for some wasabi seedlings made things feel a little more believable. More towns also meant the opportunity to go to more events and, while some events included all three towns, many of them were town-specific. Because of this, players are given plenty of chances to learn more about each of the towns, help them grow, and become friendly with each town’s residents. Oh, and speaking of residents…

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Drop by and say hello to as many people as you can, as often as you can!

I wasn’t kidding when I said that Trio of Towns really gives players plenty of opportunities to improve their social standing among the townsfolk. There are over 40 different characters for the player to interact with and get closer to – that’s a lot! I’ve always been a big fan of games with social aspects, so I was excited to see so many faces popping up in this game – and even more so when I realized that they were all unique. Although each town had characters that filled certain roles – town leaders, store owners, etc. – none of the personalities seemed to run together or feel stale. Building relationships with townsfolk is a slow process, as it has always been in the series, but also a very fun and rewarding one. Given the sheer number of people you could potentially run into each day, there was a pretty constant stream of special events and conversations going on as I played – and I enjoyed every one of them.

Of course, though the game does offer a cornucopia of people to meet, we all know that there’s a special group of people that stick out from the rest. I’m talking about the bachelors and bachelorettes, of course! Trio of Towns offers five bachelors and five bachelorettes to pick from. I’ll be honest; considering the fact that there are three different towns and over 40 characters to meet, only being able to choose from five people was a bit of a letdown for me. I mean, that’s not even two characters per town. But hey, I probably shouldn’t complain. Although there may be a small quantity issue, I certainly didn’t find any issue with quality. Trio of Towns took full advantage of its different locales by providing diverse and detailed marriage candidates that each bring something new and enjoyable to the table – really, the only trouble you should have is deciding who you like the most!

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Who needs to farm when you can flirt?

I can’t say that this game do too much for me graphically-speaking, unfortunately. I know that this is a 3DS game, and that there are limitations, but I felt as though it could have been polished a bit more. Nothing looked bad per-say, but it just wasn’t what I expected from something released in 2017. To be fair though, it didn’t really bother me – this isn’t the kind of game that you to play to be wowed by graphics, anyway.

Trio of Town’s soundtrack is subtle, generally upbeat, and complimentary to the area or situation that they player may be in. In that aspect it was nice, but not anything noteworthy. What I did find odd however, was my reaction to it. Initially, I wasn’t too fond of it. I had heard plenty of music like it before. But, as I played more of the game, it grew on me. It never “wowed” me, but it eventually rose to a point where I would get it stuck in my head and smile about it. I’m usually pretty quick to judge when it comes to OSTs, and my opinions don’t waver much, so this was an exception. I can’t quite say why the music grew on me, but it certainly wasn’t a bad thing that it did.

I’d like to think that you can liken Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns to growing crops. Things start out a bit bare, but don’t stay that way for long. With a little bit of time and effort, you’ll soon find yourself with plenty of people to see, new places to go, and a bigger farm than you might know what to do with. The more I played Trio of Towns, the more difficult it was to put down – and that right there is the mark of a successful game, if you ask me.

FINAL VERDICT: 4/5

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Available on: 3DS (Reviewed); Publisher: Marvelous USA ; Developer: Marvelous ; Players: 1 ; Released: February 28, 2017 ; ESRB: E10+ for Everyone Ages 10+ ; MSRP; $39.99

Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of  Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns given to Hey Poor Player by the Publisher.

Starting out with nothing more than a Game Boy and a copy of Donkey Kong Land, Kenny has happily been gaming for almost his entire life. Easily-excitable and a bit on the chatty side, Kenny has always been eager to share gaming-related thoughts, opinions, and news with others and has been doing so on Hey Poor Player since 2014 and has previously worked with both PKMNcast and SCATcast. Although his taste in gaming spreads across a wide number of companies and consoles, Kenny holds a particular fondness for Nintendo handheld consoles. He is also very proud of his amiibo collection. You can also find him on Twitter @SuperBayleef talking about video games and general nonsense. Some of his favorite games include Tetris Attack, Pokémon Black Version 2, The World Ends With You, Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, Yo-kai Watch, Donkey Kong Country 2, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, Kirby's Dreamland 3, Mega Man X, and Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (among many others).

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