Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom Review (Switch)

Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom Review: Sheep Happens

 

friends of the great kingdom

Before I begin this review, I have to make a confession: I am not super familiar with Doraemon. I know he’s adorable, and that I would love to have a plush of him for my collection, and that I even have a pop socket for my phone with his bobble-headed self on it, but I don’t actually know much about him. I was a little worried that my lack of exposure to Japan’s iconic (for 50+ years running!) and first-ever “anime ambassador” (seriously, Google it) would get in the way of fully immersing myself in the world of Marvelous’ cross-over Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom. Thankfully, that is far from the case. Even though many Western gamers may have, at best, a passing familiarity with Doraemon, I suspect most of them will come to adore him as I did during my time with this game.

 

Oh Crop

 

friends of the great kingdom

Farming sim games typically don’t have the deepest, most intriguing, or most engaging stories to tell. Friends of the Great Kingdom doesn’t necessarily have a particularly grand story, but it is wholesome, entertaining, and provides a surprisingly large amount of dialogue to help fill in the spaces between farming and running around the map. The story begins with a young boy named Noby getting into a disagreement with his parents, and deciding that the best solution is to, of course, jet off with Doraemon (who, did I mention, is a time-traveling robot cat?) and his best friends in a rocket ship Doraemon conveniently tucked away in his kangaroo-like stomach pouch. Once Noby and company have left Earth’s atmosphere, however, something strange happens, and they wind up sucked through some sort of space-time rift, and find themselves landing on a strange planet.

Here, players will be introduced to a young boy named Lumis, who will take you and your friends back to a nearby farm and begin teaching you how to clean it up and prepare it for use. After settling in for a couple of days, learning the lay of the land, and introducing yourself, you find yourself brought before the Queen, who confiscates Doraemon’s gadgets, making it impossible to return home – at least, until you gain her trust. And so your journey to restore the farm and gain the Queen’s trust so that you can return home before school starts back up. It’s a quirky, silly story, to be sure, but I found myself quite enjoying it, and the admittedly long cutscenes with the various characters throughout the game’s world really helped to flesh out both the characters and the world itself.

 

A Relaxing, A-moo-sing Game

 

friends of the great kingdom

Bolstered as it is by a surprisingly decent story, Friends of the Great Kingdom, being a farming sim, is still going to rely most heavily on the gameplay to keep itself addictive and engaging. And while I can’t say that there is a whole lot to differentiate it from previous Story of Season titles, what it does, it does extremely well. Farming will take up a generous portion of each day, of course. You’ll need to clear your farm of rocks, sticks, weeds, and trees using the various tools available to you. Once enough space is cleared, you’ll need to start growing your crops; first, you’ll need to till the ground, sow your seeds, then water them every day. Using fertilizer can help increase the quality of your produce, allowing you to sell it for a greater price. Certain crops can only be grown during certain seasons, of course, so you’ll want to plan accordingly once the end of each season approaches. In a welcome addition, you can also enlist the friends that traveled to this new planet with you to help out with your daily chores, or, if you have a buddy handy, you can have a friend take control of Doraemon and work on the farm with you.

In addition to growing crops, you can tend to livestock, such as chickens and cows, which involves feeding them, letting them out to enjoy the sunshine and open air, and giving them love and affection to ensure that they grow up healthy and happy. You can also collect goods from your animals, such as eggs and milk, which can be sold or used in cooking recipes. Once you’ve finished with your farm chores, there’s a surprisingly large world to explore. You’ll be able to mine for minerals and materials to upgrade your tools, house, and more, go fishing, catch bugs, and more. Of course, you’ll also develop relationships with the characters living in this world, learning more about them as you do. You’ll also be given a to-do list by Lumis, and there is quite literally always something to do. You’ll also gain access to the bulletin board in the town square pretty early on, which will give you time-sensitive requests from various townspeople. Finally, there are also events that happen throughout each season that you can look forward to, such as fishing tourneys and livestock competitions.

 

Absolutely Radishing

 

Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom is a stunningly gorgeous game. It quite literally looks like a watercolor painting brought to life. There is an absolutely lovely attention to detail – wheat rustles in the wind as you pass by it, fish teem below the surface of the water, cherry blossoms dance in the breeze, and crops grow, leaves unfurling before your eyes when you water them. I honestly couldn’t adore the aesthetic of this game more if I tried. Even the music is gorgeous and relaxing, with a soundtrack that somehow never manages to feel overly repetitive.

With so many good things to gush over in Friends of the Great Kingdom, it’s hard to find room for improvement, but there are a few things that stood out to me during my time with the game. The first and biggest issue I noticed was that the world map, which you obtain early on in the game, does not really match what you’re experiencing on the screen. As a result, I had to memorize the layout of the world early on, rather than rely on the map; the map really only gives you a general sense of where to head. My only other complaint isn’t necessarily a complaint per se: Friends of the Great Kingdom doesn’t do much to stand apart from other Story of Seasons games. Depending on how much innovation you’re looking for in this series, that could be a pro or a con.

 

Cream of the Crop

 

I didn’t realize how much I needed a game like Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom until I started playing it. The gorgeous watercolor visuals, soothing soundtrack, relaxing gameplay, and loveable cast of characters makes it an easy game to keep coming back to. If you need a break from brutal dungeon crawlers and difficult deck builders like I did, or if you just need something peaceful to float away with, I couldn’t recommend Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom more.


Final Verdict: 4/5

 

Available on: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PC, PlayStation 5; Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment; Developer: Marvelous; Players: 1-2; Released: November 2nd, 2022; ESRB: E for Everyone; MSRP: $49.99

Editor’s note: The publisher provided a review copy to Hey Poor Player.

Daymon Trapold
Once upon a time, he wrote for oprainfall. Now, he's scraping off the rust to get back into writing about the games he loves. From his humble origins of playing the Atari and Commodore 64, he now dabbles in just about every console there is. Although he has a particular love of hardcore dungeon-crawlers, roguelikes, and niche JRPGs, some of his favorite games include Earthbound, Persona 3, Eternal Sonata, Bravely Default, Tales of the Abyss, and Fate/Extra. If his geek cred wasn't good enough, he's also a bassoonist.

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